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Opinion

Readers React: Don’t want the power to go out? Bring back vocational education in our schools

LOS ANGELES, CALIF. -- THURSDAY, DECEMBER 25, 2014: Power line patrolman Michael McGuire repairs the
A Department of Water and Power worker repairs damaged power lines in Century City in 2014.
(Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: You got the gist correct in your editorial on the recent power outages when you cited “an enormous backlog of deferred maintenance projects, leaving the system vulnerable.”

Energy efficiencies and renewable electricity are steps in the right direction, but the real story is the dearth of people with the skills to correct the infrastructure problems.

Our public schools no longer produce young people with the skills that would provide entry to a job in the electrical distribution industry, having cut the vocational and shop classes that would result in this well-paid employment. This in turn causes more kids to graduate or leave school without employable skills, adding to the humanity living on our streets.

Utilities have resorted to hiring contractors to do this work, where a young person in his or her mid-20s can be earning a six-figure salary. But don’t trust me on this one; I’m just a middle school shop teacher. Find those stories and tell them.

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Joe Petito, Torrance

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