The manufacturing industry is putting out a call for help. The Windsor Central School District is answering.
For the first time, Windsor Central High School students can take an Applied Economics in Manufacturing Course.
“We’re continuing development of our pathways and partnerships in an effort to support regional workforce development, specifically in response to a call from local manufacturers for increased manufacturing and development of a pathway K-12 education,” said WCHS teacher Scott Symons.
“Currently, there are approximately 3,000 open manufacturing positions in the Southern Tier. Based on the predictions nationwide, the situation will be much worse in the coming decade,” said Carol Miller, Executive Director of the Alliance for Manufacturing and Technology (AM&T).
A group of Windsor educators, including Symons, Jim Schmitt, and Kateri Sibley, joined colleagues from the Binghamton City School District in a Meeting at Cornell University in August. The two districts will collaborate with the Cornell Center for Materials Research and the Alliance for Manufacturing Technology to implement a curriculum for an applied economics and manufacturing course to bolster workforce development in the manufacturing industry of New York State. Schmitt and Sibley are teaching the course at WCHS.
“There is a clear need to prepare students for careers in manufacturing in New York. By bringing together the Windsor school staff’s expertise in STEM curriculum, AMT’s deep knowledge of local manufacturing careers, and Cornell’s research expertise, we expect to enhance student preparation and contribute to increasing the STEM workforce in New York State,” said Frank Wise, Director of the Cornell Center for Materials Research.
“We need to change the vocabulary around of what manufacturing truly is. There are so many more job opportunities than working on an assembly line or ‘The floor.’ Engineers, Human Resources professionals, and others are all a part of manufacturing, in addition to those workers on the floor,” said Mr. Symons.
“This is not your dad’s factory work. Many of today’s manufacturing jobs are utilizing high-tech processes and can be more like laboratories than the antiquated ideologies of the Henry Ford assembly lines of the previous century. Still, enrollments in vocational programs, direct hire opportunities, internships, and entrepreneurships leading to careers in manufacturing lag significantly behind other industries that do not require college degrees for entry,” said Miller.
According to Miller, at any given moment in the past six months, the manufacturing sector has had nearly 500,000 jobs open. Symons hopes the course can be a steppingstone to BOCES’ manufacturing program and either entry into the workforce, or SUNY Broome’s advanced manufacturing program.
“Hopefully, this will help us create a pipeline for some kids that want to join the workforce directly out of high school. We can open the eyes of students to the opportunities in manufacturing while still going to college, or after completing course work,” said Mr. Symons.