CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Think you need a bachelor’s degree to get a good paying job these days? Think again. West Virginia Commerce Secretary Keith Burdette, a guest Monday on MetroNews Talkline, said there are plenty of jobs that pay much more than minimum wage, if you have the training.
“The notion that you have to have a four-year degree in order to have a good standard of living isn’t correct anymore. A lot of the jobs that are coming available and going unfilled require technical education, sometimes two-years or less in order to qualify,” stressed Burdette.
The secretary used a certificate program for natural gas technicians at Pierpont and Northern community colleges as an example. Twelve people who recently graduated from the 2-year program are now all employed. Their average salaries are $70,000.
When it comes to West Virginia’s economy things are looking up according to Burdette. He said the state has one of the lowest business costs in the country where tax rates are now competitive. What Burdette said West Virginia is lacking is a large number of residents with the necessary skills.
“If folks are sitting around at home and saying, ‘I’ve got a high school diploma. I can’t find anything!’ They’re not hiring too many high school diploma folks anymore. They’re looking for people with advanced skill sets,” he said.
The challenge, he said, is getting people to understand the concept.
“If we’re going to compete we’ve got to convince the West Virginia workforce to get the proper training,” he stressed. “They’re loyal. They’re hard-working. The ones that have jobs are some of the best anywhere in the country and our companies continue to reaffirm that. But for those folks out there that want to engage in this economy, they’re going to have to get the skill sets to do it.”
For those who don’t know which direction to take, Burdette said there’s plenty of help out there. You can talk to job counselors or check in with you local community college. Not only are there plenty of programs to choose from, there’s also financial aid to make it happen.
Burdette said the more jobs here in state that can be filled with West Virginia workers, the better the economy.