Skilled laborers graduate in Melville

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MELVILLE -

The next generation of skilled laborers graduated from vocational programs Monday in Melville.

Steven King, of Medford, graduated and already has a job in construction. He says that while many of his friends may have earned bachelor's degrees, they are still unemployed.

"I think this generation is a little lazy," he says with a laugh. "I think they should put a hard hat on and try it."

King says many consider what he's doing as "dirty work" or backbreaking manual labor. But it's those skilled labor jobs that are in high demand, and officials say not enough workers are out there because so much effort has been put into encouraging graduates to go to college for academic degrees rather than technical training.

"These are great jobs where you can make a great wage," says United States Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove).

Jacqueline Ferrufino, of Freeport, is the only woman lineman working on power lines in IBEW Local 1049. She says older workers are retiring and there are not enough trained people replacing them.

"A lot of people don't want to do this work," she says. "It's hard work, it's backbreaking, dangerous work, but someone has to do it."

Education officials say people who have careers in skilled labor are somewhat more likely to be employed than those with bachelor's degrees and that they're more likely to be working in their fields of study.

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