VAN WERT — If Rep. Bob Latta ever decides to pursue a second career, he might find one in transportation.
During a visit to Vantage Career Center, Latta jumped into the cab of a big rig to test his skills backing up a 50-foot trailer. After a single adjustment and a little coaching, he was able to maneuver the semi-truck between a number of cone obstacles.
“It’s a lot harder than it looks, driving a 50-foot long trailer,” Vantage Superintendent Rick Turner said.
Vantage is Latta’s latest visit in a regional tour of technical schools undertaken by Ohio’s 5th Congressional District representative while highlighting a recent House bill that was passed to give states more options in how they wish to use federal dollars for workforce training.
“What might work in northwest central Ohio, it’s not going to be the same model in Oklahoma,” Latta said.
Latta toured Vantage for roughly an hour — hanging out with preschoolers at the school’s early childhood education facility, tasting the desserts of chef students, watching a Color Guard perform, talking shop with garage mechanics and finishing up the tour in the driver seat of a semi-truck.
Latta gave credit to schools like Vantage for their roles in workforce development. Places like Vantage, Latta said, are helping give skills to individuals interested in filling the millions of open positions in the United States.
Vantage currently enrolls 460 high school students and approximately 300 adult students. The school has programs in a wide range of curricula, and individuals graduating from the institution often find decent paying jobs if they earn some sort of industry certification.
“The opportunities the students have out here, it’s phenomenal,” Latta said. “They can move on to a good paying job right out of high school [or] get more education. It just keeps going along. But the students here are very enthusiastic, and they love what they’re doing.”
Turner said Latta visited Vantage last May, and he invited him back to tour some of the facilities he missed the first time around.
“Students get hands-on training and practice the skills needed on the job each and every day,” Turner said. “Latta has been a big advocate for us.”
After Latta visited Vantage, he spoke at the Van Wert Rotary lunch later in the day.
“We really need to emphasize what’s happening at career centers. I’m always impressed what I see out here. The students are enthusiastic. They want to get out into the workforce,” Latta said.
Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.