PLATTSBURGH — A big barrier to students exploring manufacturing careers is that they do not know what is in their own backyard, CV-TEC Director of Career and Technical Education Michele M. Friedman said.
“One of our goals in providing the guidance for any of our career and technical (education) students is to allow them access to our local business partners.”
That includes tours of facilities, so students can visualize themselves working at these companies.
“It doesn’t mean that you actually have to go to high school and immediately go to college or go to high school and immediately go to work," Friedman continued.
“There are multiple means to the end.”
Students can come to CV-TEC and become employed at an entry-level position while working toward an advanced college degree, Friedman said.
“Oftentimes a company will help support their post-secondary tuition and they can stack those credentials as they go.
“One of the things that we want to make sure our students know is that we want to train you, but we also want to sustain you in the North Country.
"We want you to know what your options are.”
CV-TEC programs such as digital art and design, transportation and construction sector components, and welding, help students develop skills that can be transferred to manufacturing, Friedman said.
These programs are foundational and hopefully help students find their way to further education at a place like Clinton Community College’s Institute for Advanced Manufacturing, she added.
Both students and parents often have antiquated perceptions about manufacturing.
“Dirty grind work that doesn’t take a lot of brainpower, just repetitive work,” Friedman said.
“Now, in order to operate a CNC (computer numerical control) machine, you have to have a fundamental knowledge of trigonometry and all of these things, so really that awareness is key.”
CV-TEC partners with ETS Inc., Clinton Community College, and other business and industry partners to offer AIME (Assembling Industry: Manufacturing and Education), an exploratory program run out of OneWorkSource.
Through AIME, students go through the basic principles of manufacturing, then sit for the National Work Readiness Credential, a nationally recognized assessment which Freidman described as a litmus test of entry-level employability skills.
All CV-TEC students have the opportunity to earn the credential.
AIME and other CV-TEC students also participate in career fairs, where partner businesses interview the students and sometimes offer them entry-level jobs.
No matter their specialty, companies are looking for reliable, loyal, trainable employees who can work as a team and take criticism, Freidman said.
They also need to know to call in when they have to miss work and not to use their phones on the floor.
CV-TEC’s business partners have come in to do employability seminars with the students.
“They ask us all the time, ‘How is their attendance? How is their work ethic? How is their attitude? Do they get along with others?’” Friedman said.
CV-TEC is getting ready to launch an applied engineering program through New Visions, with a target rollout of fall 2020.
The Clinton County program will be based at CV-TEC through the Institute for Advanced Manufacturing at CCC, while the Essex County program will be offered at the Mineville CV-TEC campus in conjunction with North Country Community College and Pre-Tech Plastics Inc., located just across the street.
“We can provide a comprehensive, yearlong, exploratory educational experience for students who have an interest in going into engineering,” Freidman said.
Some students think engineering just involves sitting in an office.
“If you look at the different types of engineers that they have at Norsk and some of the other manufacturing companies, it is mind-blowing what is coming out in the engineering field right now," Friedman said.
“What we’re hoping to do is to kind of give them an opportunity to explore all of these different facets so they can make a better, more informed decision as to how to specialize when they move into the college program.”
CV-TEC will start by soliciting juniors from Champlain Valley Educational Services' 16 component school districts who have been identified as potentials for this cohort.
“Then we’re going to do activities with them throughout the course of this junior year, so that gives them an idea of what the program’s going to be like," Friedman said.
CV-TEC is excited to have both CCC and NCCC on board.
“It’s so indicative of how the North Country works,” Friedman said.
“We all recognize that there’s a small pool. We shouldn’t be competing, we should be collaborating.”
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