Electronics program ending at Coshocton Career Center, as demand slows
Essential elements of electronics to be added to existing program
- The electronics program at Coshocton County Career Center will end in 2024. Instructor Steve Ervin is retiring.
- Crucial elements of the program will be incorporated into the Networking IT and Computer Systems program.
- An electrical systems technology program will start in fall 2023 to prepare future electricians.
- Superintendent Matt Colvin said electricians was the top need he heard when talking to local businesses.
A changing world and how to best use resources is attributing to the discontinuation of the electronics program at the Coshocton County Career Center. However, a new electrical systems technology program will be starting and key elements from electronics will be absorbed by the Networking IT and Computer Systems (NICS) program.
Superintendent Matt Colvin said instructor Steve Ervin is approaching retirement and this led Colvin to examine enrollment numbers for electronics, which have been going down the past few years. They currently have 12 students, but can accommodate up to 50. The program will accept new juniors for the coming school year and Ervin will then work part time to finish the senior class in the 2023 to 2024 school year.
Colvin said electronics repair isn’t in demand as it once was. With how cheap computers and televisions are now, and how fast the technology changes, most people usually just buy a new one if they break. Additionally, Colvin said there are more popular programs at the career center drawing students based on the current economy and job markets, such as metal fabrication and construction technology.
“Times are changing. TV repair people are becoming fewer and fewer. Computer repair people are becoming fewer and fewer. Those jobs aren’t really out there” Colvin said. “Electronics used to be a high-demand area. It used to be a class out here with a waiting list and we just haven’t seen that in the last handful of years.”
Students in the electronics program spend two years studying digital electronics, including electronic theory and the components that store, transmit or alter electrical signals. They build and analyze various types of digital circuits and then test and troubleshoot problems with operation. Students learn basic principles and concepts to help them pass the certified electronic technician exam.
Colvin said key elements to transfer need to be determined, but the NICS program already has some crossover with curriculum. He said the popularity of NICS is one reason enrollment for electronics went down. NICS is one of three programs with a waiting list already for next school year, the others are metal fabrication and automotive technology.
“Since I took this job, I’ve been talking to local businesses about what are we seeing in the workforce that’s lacking and the number one thing that kept coming back to me is your electricians,” Colvin said.
Paperwork needs approved by the Ohio Department of Education, but Colvin plans to offer the electrical program to incoming juniors in fall 2023. The career center is working with the local International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers union to develop curriculum. They are also seeking donations of equipment and funding for start-up costs from local businesses.
The new program will offer instruction in residential and industrial wiring. Electricians could be a growing field with the number of new builds coming to the area. This includes the Intel plant being constructed in Licking County. Colvin said that project should draw several career center students for various work.
“I hope people see this as a growth model not just for our career center, but where our world is going right now. We’ve always got to stay out in front, stay ahead and improve what we do,” Colvin said. “I want to make sure that here at the Coshocton County Career Center we stay relevant for employers. If we’re relevant for our employers, our kids are going to shine in our society.”