Capital Region

Capital Region BOCES announces new workforce development programs



The Capital Region BOCES is partnering with four organizations to establish new workforce development programs, focused on preparing people for jobs in education, health care and technology.

The programs are supported by part of $9 million in new state workforce development grants awarded earlier this month. BOCES announced the four new grant-funded programs Monday:

  • $197,606 to partner with the University at Albany on training teaching assistants to gain new certification levels or start out in the field;
  • $155,800 to work with the New York Alliance for Inclusion and Innovation to establish a training program for direct support professionals, who help people with disabilities navigate daily life;
  • $125,400 to collaborate with AlbanyCanCode to support expanded coding training across the region and more broadly in the state, and;
  • $132,662 to work with the Capital District YMCA to establish a childcare center at the Capital South Campus Center and create a training component for adults to learn how to work in the child care field.

The new programs and grant proposals were developed earlier in the spring and filed with the state around the time the COVID-19 pandemic hit, but Joe Dragone, Capital Region BOCES senior executive officer, said the programs will help meet some of the emerging needs in the region.

“They all meet needs,” Dragone said of the programs. “This is really not about a point in time, this is about the bigger picture of how you always have to keep an eye on supporting our own workforce.”

The childcare partnership will establish a center in a census tract with currently no childcare centers, Dragone said, and also serve as the BOCES’ first program that provides both direct child care and training to prepare people for childcare jobs.

“It becomes the lab,” Dragone said of the new childcare center.

The UAlbany School of Education will be running a new Academy for the Advancement of Teaching Assistants, starting with a class of around 30 students next spring, said Jason Lane, dean of the education school.

The program aims to strengthen the supply of teaching assistants in the region, recruiting people into the field as well as helping those already working as assistants or aides to advance into higher-earning jobs in education.

The program is also focused on the workforce diversification goals of many districts around the region. Teacher assistants and paraprofessionals, wide-ranging school positions that support a variety of student and teacher activities, are often more reflective of a school district community than other educators and are seen as key to helping engage and build critical relationships with students.

“We recognize there is a need to diversify the teacher workforce in the region,” Lane said.

Lane said in the long run, the college hopes to build on the new program to help teacher assistants become teachers and advance further in the education field.

“These are folks who already have experience in classrooms, they are committed to education, committed to their communities and the students in those communities,” Lane said of helping advance their careers. “We think they are some of the best people we can target for ‘train-your-own’ programs.”

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