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Coach's Corner : We Tipped Off March Workforce Madness

Fri, Apr 14th 2023 08:00 am

What a crazy March we had! March Madness was in full effect, and I am referring to the 1,600 students we welcomed to our great workforce development programs - not the crazy NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament led by upstart Florida Atlantic University – including the Cornell Food Processing Bootcamp, Tech Wars, STEAM Jam, the Finger Lakes Youth Apprenticeship Program and GLOW With Your Hands: Healthcare.

Although the NCAA Final Four was electric, having so many students participating in career exploration programs is what got me fired up.

Our madness kicked off with 30 graduating seniors participating in this year’s Cornell University Food Processing Bootcamp held at the Genesee Valley BOCES. The three-day program featured industry experts educating students about the many job opportunities in the food processing industry.

At the conclusion of the program, students received a food processing certificate which will give participants an advantage when applying for jobs.

After the pilot programs in the summer of 2022 and March 2023, Cornell University received funding to mimic this program across the state, proving our region is the place for workforce development innovation.

We haven’t seen such a touchdown of success since the Cornell University football team’s last national championship run in 1939!

Over a two-day period, we had elementary, middle, and high school students showcasing their technical skills at STEAM Jam and Tech Wars.

At STEAM Jam over one hundred 3rd – 5th grade students participated in various team building and mind-stimulating activities.

Our goal is to get students in front of STEAM related activities early to show them you can turn this into a career someday. We see so many high school aged students involved in these programs because we can introduce them to these types of careers at such a young age.

Later in the day, STEAM Jam participants were able to be spectators for the 14th annual Tech Wars that featured a similar competition setting that was highlighted by 30 events that demonstrated participating students’ innovative and technical skills.

Along with the competition, officials from the Genesee Valley BOCES Mechatronics Program were in attendance guiding and educating students about the type of equipment used in this field and touting the fact that our region is home to the number one mechatronics program in the state.

Finishing up the hectic day at Genesee Community College was our Finger Lakes Youth Apprenticeship program, where students received paid on the job training experience through apprenticeship opportunities offered by Genesee County employers.

Students experienced an NFL Draft Style format to learn which employer they were matched with to complete their co-op or apprenticeship.

If the Bills draft as many number one picks the Finger Lakes Youth Apprenticeship Program selected, then I believe we will be on our way to a Super Bowl parade.

March Madness concluded with the inaugural GLOW With Your Hands: Healthcare, which manifested from our annual GLOW With Your Hands: Manufacturing which started in 2019 when we realized the strong demand for skilled trade and manufacturing workforce candidates by employers in the GLOW region.

Due to the current state of healthcare, our partners in workforce development, Angela Grouse and Karyn Winters stepped up to the plate and they delivered a successful inaugural healthcare workforce development event.

Over 575 students from 29 districts interacted with 225 representatives from more than 50 agencies throughout the region.

The event offered hands-on displays and a career pathway fair where students could learn about the types of careers in healthcare offered through postgraduate or secondary schooling institutions.

Students were able to learn more about the programs they already have interest in and many of the participants were able to learn more about a career they may have never heard of or be exposed to. 

This was such an incredible opportunity for our youth to interact with individuals who are currently in a role where they could see themselves in the future and have vendors share their firsthand knowledge of what that type of career is like.

Our students left with a smile on their face and were very grateful for the opportunity to learn and interact with professionals who clearly enjoy their careers.

Our region is so fortunate to have so many individuals and organizations who are tirelessly advocating for workforce development for our youth.  I encourage students, parents, teachers and guidance counselors to contact me at [email protected] to learn more about the opportunities available.