Forty years of preparing the adult workforce

The Lehigh Career & Technical Institute houses $3.5 million worth of training equipment for its pre-engineering and engineering technology courses in manufacturing, which includes this industrial robot used for automation. - (Photo / Jennifer Glose)

When 27-year-old Jose Ofray of Allentown was laid off from his position as a customer service representative for T-Mobile, he never dreamed that enrolling at Lehigh Career & Technical Institute in Schnecksville would lead him to a job where he now travels the world as a field service engineer.

When 27-year-old Jose Ofray of Allentown was laid off from his position as a customer service representative for T-Mobile, he never dreamed that enrolling at Lehigh Career & Technical Institute in Schnecksville would lead him to a job where he now travels the world as a field service engineer.

“They [LCTI] make you feel like they really care about you,” Ofray said. “Within a couple of months, I felt like it was my uncle or family teaching me, and when you feel more comfortable with teachers, you learn more.”

A technical school since 1971, LCTI’s 500,000 square feet of buildings on 45 acres became commonly known by Lehigh Valley high school students as “vo-tech,” where thousands of students over the years have spent half of their high school days learning various trades, including in cosmetology and electrical construction.

Today, LCTI is the third largest technical school in the nation, offering a comprehensive adult workforce education program, enrolling about 1,300 adults a year such as Ofray, who graduated in a year’s time with a certificate in electrical mechanical and mechatronics.

“LCTI is the best in the country,” said Jack Pfunder, CEO of Manufacturers Resource Center in Allentown. “Almost anyone graduating from this curriculum, we can find them a good job.”

Pfunder, who has been the chair of LCTI’s manufacturing council the last eight years, advises and helps to develop curriculum for the school’s pre-engineering and engineering technology courses that house $3.5 million worth of training equipment.

“I was so impressed by the size and quality and the breadth of what goes on there,” Pfunder said. “I had never seen anything like it.”

LCTI has built relationships over the years with many companies in the Greater Lehigh Valley, including B. Braun Medical, Nestle Waters, Sam Adams, Niagara and Just Born.

B. Braun, with the support of the Lehigh Valley Workforce Investment Board, is partnering with LCTI to roll out a paid rotational internship for adult students and other technical institutes in the Lehigh Valley, where students would rotate for four weeks at a time through different manufacturing companies in the region.

“The manufacturing companies are looking for technicians that are well-rounded,” said Ted Martin, LCTI’s lead instructor for electromechanical and mechatronics and a retired senior electronics designer for AT&T. “They need technicians that have an educational background, and there are not a lot of programs out there to prepare them for it.”

Jennifer Glose
Reporter Jennifer Glose covers health care, Berks County and other topics. She can be reached at jenniferg@lvb.com or 610-807-9619, ext. 111.

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