By James Dexter, District Superintendent WSWHE BOCES
A few weeks ago, I met a group of Washington County business owners in the manufacturing sector. These employers are experiencing a very different problem than other companies across the state. They are not suffering from lack of business or revenue; they actually have backlogs of work they cannot complete because they do not have enough people on staff. Instead of downsizing in these tough economic times, these employers are looking to hire and expand. The jobs they offer are good paying, stable positions – with private sector benefits – in safe, friendly working environments. However, candidates lack the basic foundational skills to even learn on the job.
These Washington County business owners, I am proud to say, are BOCES alumni. They are doers, problem solvers, critical thinkers, and pillars of our communities. They create products from blueprints that you cannot buy in a store off a shelf. They run multi-million dollar businesses and employ a great number of people. They are true entrepreneurs, and it is individuals like this who can help our economy improve.
Together, these business owners and the BOCES have been trying to get students into Career and Technical Education programs that will give them the foundational skills necessary for jobs in advanced manufacturing and other industries. Believe it or not, we have a hard time attracting students – both high school and adult students – to these programs, even though the resulting careers are readily available and lucrative.
Although WSWHE BOCES has been offering Adult Continuing Education classes for years, many people do not consider BOCES when they are thinking of going back to school. I am pleased to say BOCES provides education for adults in many forms and commitment levels.
If you are interested in changing careers, BOCES offers evening classes where you can learn a new trade or upgrade your skills. If evening classes don’t fit your schedule, adults are more than welcome to take our daytime Career and Technical Education programs, where you can earn industry certifications that will increase your marketability and job prospects. We coordinate internships, help you find funding sources, and connect you to employers.
Our business advisory committees tell us they need people. They prefer to hire locally, but if there are no qualified candidates, they have no choice but to look outside our region. In the interest of small businesses, the catalysts of our regional economy; the unemployed and underemployed; and bright, hands-on learners who do not always fit the mold, I strongly implore you to consider BOCES for your education needs. Thank you.