Vocational tech grads buck the jobs trend

ALLENTOWN, Pa. - "I don't really like the second shift," Nick Senniti, 20, says. "But you've got to start somewhere."

Despite the worst job market in decades, Senniti had three job offers right out of high school.

CBS News correspondent Elaine Quijano reports Senniti graduated in 2009 as a certified welder from a Career and Technical Education high school -- or what used to be called vocational education. He now works for Air Products in Allentown, Pa.

John McGlade, president and CEO of Air Products, says 4,000 of his 7,500 U.S. employees are skilled workers. His global company designs and builds high-tech hydrogen equipment and devices.

McGlade is "worried" he won't be able to find skilled workers in the future. He hires about 550 U.S. workers a year. Three-hundred-and-sixty are technically skilled positions that require two years of college or advanced certification. These positions can often go unfilled for 12 months.

"You need people who are electronics experts, instrument technicians, mechanics," McGlade said.

This year funding for vocational education was cut by $140 million and President Obama is proposing a 20 percent cut next year.

"Without support and continued development of a skilled workforce, we're not going to be able to fill the jobs," McGlade warned.

Lehigh Career and Technical Institute would be impacted, as well -- 5 percent of its budget comes from federal grants. The school trains about 3,000 students from across the Lehigh Valley. According to the National Association of Career and Technical Schools, these students can earn $26 an hour more than workers with only a high school diploma.

"There is going to be more and more of those skilled jobs that are available, that are going to be paying and provide a sustaining career for years and years to come," McGlade said.

It's a career path that McGlade estimates will need 10 million more skilled workers over the next decade.

  • Elaine Quijano

    Elaine Quijano was named a CBS News correspondent in January 2010. Quijano reports for "CBS This Morning" and the "CBS Evening News," and contributes across all CBS News platforms. She is based in New York.