NEW HARTFORD — The Oneida-Herkimer-Madison BOCES Pathways in Technology Early College High School (P-TECH) and Indium Corporation recently wrapped up their first season of a new Student Workforce Development Program.
The program, which kicked off in May, aims to create career pathways for P-TECH students and address the growing skills gap facing local businesses by facilitating hands-on job opportunities.
P-TECH provides an integrated high school and college curriculum focusing on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), while also providing workplace skills including leadership, communication and problem-solving.
While students have always experienced internships with P-TECH business and industry partners, this new initiative provides even greater opportunities for them to gain real world work experience, according to program officials.
The Student Workforce Development Program is the product of a conversation between P-TECH student Breanna Newman and Indium Corporation Corporate Associate Vice President Rick Short. Newman had discussed employment opportunities and part-time work with Short during a pre-pandemic business partner event and continued to follow up with him via email. Her persistence and drive paid off, inspiring Short and his team at Indium consider programs they could implement to engage with similarly motivated students.
After much thought and a few hurdles, like changing Indium Corporation’s policies to allow for hiring of people under the age of 18, the Student Workforce Development Program became a reality.
“The ability to create such a program came in large part from the buy-in of our supervisors who would be hosting the student workers,” said Jim McCoy, talent acquisition supervisor at Indium Corporation.
“Our staff already knew as a business partner the value that P-TECH students could bring to our company and that this program would help to create a steady workforce conduit while relieving the financial burdens of recruiting new talent,” McCoy added.
“We are proud to continue our partnership with P-TECH as we nurture our community’s native pipeline of talent and help bring them into the professional world,” said Short.
“P-TECH OHM is a training and development ground for our community’s students and a source of our next generation of teammates. P-TECH does an exemplary job of preparing and cultivating tomorrow’s professionals in many fields,” Short added.
The new Student Workforce Development Program aims to teach students professional skills like communication, problem solving, collaboration and adhering to deadlines, while also reinforcing concepts learned in their college coursework.
This is done by matching practical skill development consistent with the students’ field of study to work projects that support business function and growth.
Newman, a fourth year P-TECH student from the Utica City School District, became the first student to participate in the Student Workforce Development Program; she was soon joined by Evan Pugh, a sixth year P-TECH student from the Whitesboro Central School District.
Both students are currently majoring in Business Administration at Mohawk Valley Community College.
From May through September, Newman worked as a purchasing clerk and Pugh was in IT support, with both becoming part-time employees of Indium Corporation once the program ended for the summer.
“One of the goals of P-TECH is to eventually have students employed by our business
partners. This program is an opportunity for our students to experience employment with one of our strongest partners in a different way and much
earlier than they would typically have the opportunity to,” said P-TECH OHM Principal Erica Schoff.
P-TECH and Indium Corporation plan to continue offering the Student Workforce Development Program to future students the summer before their senior year of high school.
Students will be given the opportunity to apply and interview for positions in the spring of their junior year, with multiple students being able to participate each year.
The program’s investment in workforce development is critical to the region’s economic success, addressing longstanding obstacles that have hindered the advancement of local businesses and high school/community college students alike.
“We believe that materials science changes the world and that our success is the direct result of how much Indium people care. Students are the next-generation of our families, our community and our workforce. We are proud to partner with P-TECH OHM to ensure students are fully equipped to enter the workforce upon graduation and build a strong future – together, for everyone. We look forward to welcoming more well-prepared, work-ready P-TECH students into our Indium family,” said Dawn Roller, associate vice president of human resources at Indium Corporation.
• To learn more about P-TECH OHM, go online to: www.oneida-boces.org/ptech.
• To learn more about Indium Corporation, see the website: www.indium.com.