Assembly members highlight Orleans/Niagara BOCES to address ‘middle-skills’ gap

Posted 16 October 2019 at 8:10 am

GOP in Assembly wants to establish youth apprenticeship program for many technical careers

Press Release, State Assembly Minority Conference

SANBORN – Assemblymen Ken Blankenbush (R,C,I-Black River), Mike Norris (R,I,C,Ref-Lockport) and Angelo Morinello (R,C,I,Ref-Niagara Falls), alongside other members of the Assembly Minority Conference, hosted a forum on Tuesday evening in Sanborn to discuss the best ways to transition students from high school into the workplace and ensure they possess the skills required to obtain a career in the trade or field of their choosing.

The Assembly Minority Task Force on Learning for Work hosted its first of six regional forums at Orleans/Niagara BOCES. Specifically, the forum sought feedback from educational, trade and industrial leaders, students and the public in regard to the proposed Learning for Work Program (A.4255, Ra) and its role in helping to address the “middle-skills gap” in the state.

“Our Conference’s ‘Learning for Work’ legislation would create an apprenticeship program aimed at furthering students’ workplace education through hands-on experience, helping to prepare them for a wide variety of technical careers,” said Assemblyman Blankenbush, task force co-chairman. “There are available jobs out there, and if we can successfully combine coursework with real-world training, we can pair up skilled workers with those vacant positions. Our state’s economic health, viability and competitiveness depend on a well-trained, skilled workforce.”

“Four-year degrees are a great tool for some individuals to achieve their career goals, but too many young people are told at an early age they must obtain one in order to succeed. That’s simply not the case,” said Assemblyman Norris, task force co-chairman. “As early as middle school, we must start encouraging more students to enroll in technical and trade-school programs, and that starts with proper messaging. Success should not be measured by how long someone goes to school; it should be measured by how well-suited an individual is for the program and career path they’re on.”

The feedback and first-hand information gathered during the task force forums will be used to better understand the strengths of, and areas in which to improve, current legislation to ensure all students are well-equipped to enter the 21st Century workforce. At the conclusion of the forums, a report, including a summary of findings and targeted policy solutions, will be generated and brought to the Legislature.

“When it comes to workforce development, more can be done to prepare students for their potential career paths early on in high school. Rather than touting the benefits of earning a degree from a four-year college, we should acknowledge that every student has a different skill set. The Learning for Work Program goes to great lengths to provide students with workplace experience and valuable skills that will help them later in life,” said Assemblyman Morinello. “If we continue exposing students to real-life experiences and utilizing BOCES programs, apprentice programs, community colleges’ course offerings and foster relationships with the local business community, we can help fill the skills gap that currently exists in New York.”

“This task force is seeking to build on the legislation our Conference has been promoting for years, and further integrate support for learning and skills-development and long-term employment by bridging the skills gap that currently exists,” said Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C,I-Batavia). “I am confident what we have learned here this evening will help to elaborate on the framework that currently exists and set today’s students up for successful futures.”

The next regional forum is scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 22, at Mohawk Valley Community College in Utica. For more information about the task force, please contact the Assembly Minority Office of Public Affairs at 518-455-5073.

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