Orleans/Niagara BOCES has long recognized how their partnership with companies in the community have allowed their career and technical education (CTE) students an opportunity to gain on-the-job training.
Although classrooms, at the Orleans and Niagara Career and Technical Education Centers, are set up to closely resemble job conditions and situations, having a chance to work at an actual company helps students to further develop their skills, whether it is technically, or soft skills like initiative, confidence, teamwork, communicating and work ethic.
Orleans/Niagara BOCES Work Based Learning Coordinator, Susan Francis, says that CTE students generally work during school time with the internship length being decided upon between their teacher and the employer. "We find that this partnership serves as an important connection between industry and education and helps to develop students' knowledge, skills and credentials necessary for success after graduation, whether they are going into the workforce or continuing on to college."
The Computer Technology teacher at the Niagara Career and Technical Education Center, Mark Leffler, says he was thrilled when Verizon Media formerly Yahoo! agreed to take on his student, Michael Ung. "Yahoo! is one of the top technology companies in the world. Michael is spending several hours a day over a two week span working with IT staff there. He is gaining firsthand experience with a world-class company that is sure to give him an advantage when starting college and his career." Michael says he has loved the opportunity. "It has been wonderful working here and I have learned a lot. I have been able to help out in their server room and would love to work here after I graduate from University at Buffalo with my Computer Technology degree." Ryan French, the Senior Manager of Data Center Operations, says that Verizon Media formerly Yahoo! is looking to expand and that they will be looking for employees like Michael.
Welding students Bailey Newton and Lucas Frew and Automated Manufacturing and Engineering (AME) students Madison Bale and Luke Smeal are interning at Voss Manufacturing in Sanborn. Orleans Career and Technical Education Center Welding teacher Eric Farrell says he chose Bailey for this opportunity because he is an excellent student who is focused and goal driven. "Voss is an excellent company for our students to work at. Voss focuses not only on the skills that we have taught them, but also cross trains them in many other areas so they can be a well-rounded employee. I am very grateful to all the staff that work with and help to train our students in this program." AME teacher Bill Rakonczay adds that the exposure to state-of-the-art machines at the job site is a great experience for his students. "This helps them to take what they learn in class and apply that in the workforce. In my class we might have three axis machines, but at Voss they will work with five axis machines. It is a great opportunity to further enhance their training." Lucas Frew's teacher, Steve Frey says it has been a great fit for him. "This has been a great opportunity for Luke because he has a passion for welding. I know he will be successful and an asset to Voss for years to come."
Graphic Communications Niagara Career and Technical Education student Claire Szathmary has been at ICS Cards learning the ropes of designing magnetic strip cards. "Having the experience in an actual course related environment is such a great opportunity to view industry opportunities and various workflow plans," says her teacher Susan Staddon-Zelasko. "It gives students insight to how further develop their plan post-graduation. Claire has been able to rely on support and feedback from her coworkers within the company regarding her portfolio and other college decisions."
"I think career and technical education has been getting a new image over the years," says Ms. Francis. "I think more people are seeing the value of vocational training and how it can lead to well-paying jobs without incurring the high debts of college or allowing them to support themselves as they go to college. We are very thankful to all the companies that are willing to work with our students. These experiences help our students to apply their knowledge and also give local companies a chance to see if these students are a good match to be potential employees. I feel it is a win-win for everyone."