Date ArticleType
3/13/2018 Chamber News
P-TECH Academy Brings Hope to Manufacturers

Manufacturers in our region are clamoring for skilled workers, and rightfully so. Chautauqua County alone produces 5.1 billion dollars in shipments and pays out $424 million in payroll. In the five county region of Western New York manufacturers produce 25.5 billion dollars in shipments and 3.5 billion in payroll. Manufacturing remains a backbone of our regional economy. The average manufacturing worker earn $82,000 annually including pay and benefits and manufacturers have one of the highest percentages of workers eligible for health insurance benefits.  Yet, it is estimated that 17,000 advanced manufacturing jobs will open through the year 2020 in Western New York.  This is where P-TECH is stepping in to help meet a variety of needs.

P-TECH offers a project-based learning environment which specializes in training students in a continuum through high school into an Associate’s Degree program.  Students commit to a multi-year immersion experience, remaining enrolled in their home school district, while completing their Regents Diplomas and Associate of Applied Science Degrees in welding technology or mechanical technology with specialization in CADD or machine tooling from Jamestown Community College.

The Western New York P-TECH Academy which started in 2015 with the first cohort is clearly going to be integral to providing an excellent, good paying career pathway to students in the region and supporting the needs of the manufacturing economy. Manufacturers across our region have had the opportunity to meet with the P-TECH students and these students have brought hope around the future of the workforce. The feedback from manufacturers has been extremely positive. Manufacturers are impressed with the skills these students are acquiring, their level of professionalism, their work ethic and their thoughtful questions regarding manufacturing.

We commend the efforts of Dunkirk City School District and Erie 2-Chautauqua-Cattaraugus BOCES as the lead implementation agencies along with Jamestown Community College as the higher education partner. The P-TECH Academy has been an extremely successful public, private and educational initiative and we are proud to be part of the effort.

The development of the P-TECH program has required the alignment of a variety of organizations in the region. Including in that alignment are 27 component school districts that are eligible to send students to the program. It is incumbent upon all of us as residents, parents, educational leaders, counselors, teachers, school board members and manufacturers to help as many students as possible have access to the P-TECH program and maximize the potential of this very important initiative.

The WNY P-TECH STEM College & Career Academy officially opened with a high energy dedication March 7.  We eagerly anticipate growth in this program and ask any students, parents, educators, or manufacturers to investigate the benefits of a P-TECH education. For more information or to get involved, contact Principal Stephen Ruszczyk, at (716) 672-3144.

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