PLATTSBURGH — The collaborative efforts of businesses and schools are putting local high-school students on track to acquire high-skill manufacturing jobs.
Peru, Saranac and Beekmantown central schools have teamed up with Clinton Community College and Clarkson University, as well as ETS, Fujitsu, Bombardier, Nova Bus, Spencer ARL, Swarovski and Camoplast, to form a State Pathways in Technology Early College High School partnership.
Funded by a seven-year grant from the state, the public-private partnership will “give high-school students, starting in ninth grade, a clear pathway to the education that will prepare them for some of these emerging jobs in technical fields,” CCC President John Jablonski said.
“But the real advantage here is that those students are provided with opportunities to get that education more affordable and on a faster track than has ever been possible before.”
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Peru Central School will serve as the lead institution for the program, while Clarkson University will provide curriculum support and research and assist in developing the project.
The current school year will be used to work out details, recruit students and train teachers and principals, and the program will kick off for students in fall 2014.
The participating businesses will serve as career mentors by educating youth on the job options that exist and the schooling they require, as well as getting kids interested in careers that can be pursued without leaving the area, said Paul DeDominicas, director of the Center for Community and Workforce Development at CCC.
Once they complete the high-school portion of the program, students will be able to earn a two-year degree at CCC at no cost to their families, and upon graduation, will be first in line for jobs at the participating businesses.
“This collaboration amongst Peru Central, Clinton Community College, Clarkson and several employers can become a model for building true connections between business and education in support of economic growth,” Garry Douglas, president of the North Country Chamber of Commerce and co-chair of the North Country Regional Economic Development Council, said in a statement.
“The initiative aligns perfectly with the strategies and goals of the Regional Plan.”
Many students, Jablonski noted, lack a direction or sense of purpose, but the Pathways in Technology Early College High School is designed to provide them with just that.
“It gives them a very clear pathway that might not otherwise be available to them,” he said.
The grant has also funded 15 additional public-private partnerships in other parts of the state, including Central New York, the Finger Lakes, the Capital Region, the Hudson Valley, Long Island, Mohawk Valley, New York City, the Southern Tier and Western New York.
While some of these Pathways in Technology Early College High School partnerships focus on manufacturing, others are geared toward the fields of technology and health care.
In total, more than 6,000 students across the state are expected to benefit from the partnerships, which are funded through Cuomo’s 2013-14 budget and will receive additional support from the State Education Department.
The statewide initiative is the first of its kind in the nation and was launched in partnership with IBM.
“It’s a very different way to reach students,” DeDominicas said.
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