At the end of an eight-week long course on manufacturing and career building at Clinton Community College a few years ago, there was a sense of nervous anticipation as the seven participants considered their next steps and prepared to meet with prospective employers at an informal job fair the following day. One of the students had driven from Westport every day for two months to attend the four-hour class. Another participant had commuted from Malone and was now considering moving to Plattsburgh if he was able to find employment. Another student, who spoke openly about the barriers to employment because of a past criminal record, said he hoped the class and OSHA certification would lead to a good job and a better future.
The Assembling Industry: Manufacturing & Education class or AIME, launched in 2010, is a partnership between ETS Staffing and Recruiting, Clinton Community College’s Institute for Advanced Manufacturing, and CV-TEC. The initiative is in part an attempt to bridge the gap between a flourishing manufacturing sector in the area and a shortage of employees heightened by historically low unemployment rates. According to Deb Cleary, President and CEO of ETS, on any given day there are some 130 to 150 unfilled manufacturing jobs in the Plattsburgh region.
Meanwhile across the Adirondack region there are significant numbers of unemployed youth between the ages of 16 and 24. The unemployment rate for young adults in New York is much higher than the statewide average for the general population. According to the Opportunity Index, 29% of youth between the ages of 16 and 24 in Franklin County (approximately 1,800 individuals) are not in school and not working. For Clinton County the number is 12% or nearly 1,300 youths. In Essex County nearly 20% or 825 young adults are without work. And in Warren and Hamilton Counties the figures are close to 14% or just over 1,000 young men and women.)
Until recently nonprofits and government agencies have not invested in bridging the gap between the region’s unemployed youth and the available manufacturing and service industry jobs, says Greg Hart, Regional Director of the Workforce Development Institute for the North Country. But as the need for workers grows that is beginning to change.
New programs and funding—both public and private—are beginning to tackle the issue head on. Here are some examples of programs happening around the region:
AIME Assembling Industry: Manufacturing & Education
Offers skills development and workforce training at a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility on the campus of Clinton Community College. Also provides support services and access to resources and employers in the Plattsburgh region. The 8- week class is typically offered twice a year at little or no cost, but the organizers have struggled to meet enrollment quotas.
HFM (Hamilton Fulton Montgomery) BOCES
HFM BOCES offers a variety of programming for students in Hamilton County. Adirondack Academy and the newly launched Agriculture PTECH are designed to provide post-secondary career opportunities for students who may not go on to a four year college. HFM BOCES also has a career and technical education program.
International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 910 and Clinton Community College
This is a new collaboration between the IBEW and Clinton Community College that allows journeymen to obtain credit toward an Associate’s Degree in Occupational Studies. The program is designed to both help recruit electricians and plumbers into a high paying field and to allow those individuals to further their education and obtain advanced degrees at the same time.
Longitudinal Integrated Clerkship
This innovative partnership between Hudson Headwaters Health Network and area hospitals and clinics brings third year medical students from UVM to the region to live and work for 12 months. Each student is matched with two primary care physicians who serve as mentors for the year. Students gain invaluable medical experience and the program could potentially create a pipeline for the next generation of primary care providers in the Adirondack region.
North Country Center for Businesses in Transition
This program is designed to help local business owners who are nearing retirement develop a succession plan. A large percentage of businesses across the region are owned and operated by individuals or families who are nearing retirement age. Rather than lose these important community assets and economic anchors, Adirondack North Country Association is helping local businesses transfer ownership.
RAMP Ready, Able, Marketable, Proven
Program developed by Coryer Staffing to fill entry level labor gap by connecting recent high school graduates with a structured, disciplined post grad work experience in Clinton County. Focus is on the three sectors that predominate in the North Country industrial landscape: assembly, manufacturing, and warehousing/logistics.
Launched earlier this year with funding from Adirondack Foundation, Ready4Real offers life skills training and college prep in regional high schools. In its early stages the program has worked with Beekmantown High School, Seton Catholic, St. Regis Falls, and Northern Borders Academy in Malone. With additional grant funding the Ready4Real program will expand in the 2019-2020 academic year.
SWIPE (School to Work Initiative Through Practical Experiences)
Aims to help local high school students in Saranac Lake and Lake Placid explore career opportunities in their own backyards. It is partnering with schools and businesses to build skills and open doors primarily in the tourism industry. Launched in spring of 2019 by a retired teacher and a hotel manager, SWIPE provides work and interview experience, introduces students to industry professionals, and offers enriching field trips. The instructors impart a sense of pride for their community, foster a strong work ethic, and raise awareness about career advancement opportunities. Adirondack Foundation provided seed funding through its Generous Acts Program to help this initiative get started.
Photo above from the SWIPE program, taken by Erika Bailey and courtesy of Adirondack Foundation.
About this series:
The Adirondack Explorer/Adirondack Almanack is partnering with Adirondack Foundation to shine a light on unmet needs in the region as well as highlight promising efforts to address them. This special series was inspired by the Foundation’s 2019 report “Meeting the Needs of Adirondack Communities.” To learn more, visit adirondackfoundation.org/
- Support for Working Families
- Developing Support Networks for an Aging Population
- Increasing Opportunities for Professional Skills Development and Workforce Training
- Expanding Affordable Housing and Rental Options+
- Creating Pathways to Post Secondary Education
- Providing Options for Drug Addiction Treatment, Recovery, and Prevention
- Improving Transportation Networks
This “Spotlight on Adirondack Communities” series seems to offer Adirondackers a way to share ideas and discuss our region’s problems, needs, and how we might be able to fix things. We urgently need a “town hall” style meeting place like that – and Facebook ain’t it!
I believe that editor, Melissa Hart, has shown herself to be a talented facilitator who can craft the right balance in tone and agenda. She also knows how to guide reader comments into thoughtful and lively directions, yet within the respectful bounds that we all should want from each other.
Could it be that Adirondackers who want to solve problems and make life better for all, might discover that the Almanack could be our on-line meeting place where we can be together as we used as a community of neighbors? I truly hope so.