April 9, 2013

Editorial: Steering locals toward careers


---- — Not all high-school students are destined for college, and it makes smart business sense to get more young people trained in other ways for rewarding careers in our communities.

Local efforts to do that have been expanding over the years, and just within the past few days, the Press-Republican has reported on programs that have been successful in training workers.

Jeffords Steel, based in Plattsburgh, and Pre-Tech Precision Machining, headquartered in Mineville, have both had special courses created to prepare their workers. Clinton Community College worked with Jeffords Steel, and BOCES developed classes with Pre-Tech. Both businesses report that their workers gained crucial knowledge and experience, and Jeffords noted that the company was able to save money because of improved efficiency.

Community colleges and trade schools have been preparing adults for the workforce for decades. But we definitely see more emphasis on these types of programs as community leaders awaken to the realization that not every student is headed to a four-year college.

The cost of a college education has become more intimidating in an economy where degrees no longer necessarily lead to employment. More people have become interested in training that is established by employers, with the idea that successful completion likely means a job.

Also, the stigma against trade schools has been greatly reduced as more people gain respect for the skills and professionalism of a broader range of occupations.

A new training program is indicative of an even smarter trend: readying young people for manufacturing careers before they even leave high school.

Beekmantown High School, Clinton Community College, ETS Inc., CITEC and the North Country Workforce Investment Board have partnered for a program with a dual purpose: to train people to fill the need of local manufacturers and keep high-school graduates in the area by finding them work that pays a sustainable wage.

Through a program with the unwieldy name of Innovative Manufacturing Partnerships Advancing Careers through Technical Training, Beekmantown High School students are touring CCC and local industries, meeting with business professionals and getting preliminary training. They are learning skills that can help any employee: basic finances, good judgment, active listening and reading comprehension.

Students who complete the high-school portion of the program, which is free, can train at CCC for 40 hours over the summer and be ready to interview for jobs. Ten Beekmantown students are participating, and Peru Central School has also expressed interest in taking part.

Local manufacturers have been very supportive, and the program partners are trying to find grants to provide scholarships for the CCC portion of the program.

With innovative programs such as this, students who don’t intend to continue their education at colleges can still learn the skills they need to secure a good career and stay local.