A new program approved by the state Education Department will enable the HFM BOCES to organize an apprentice program with local businesses to give at-risk students workplace experience.
The project, developed by the HFM BOCES, Fulton-Montgomery Community College, the Fulton-Montgomery Regional Chamber of Commerce and the HFM Business Education Alliance, will target students showing signs of academic difficulties in eighth grade.
Participants will join up as high school freshmen and study academic classes as well as work-readiness skills focusing on critical thinking and responsibility.
HFM BOCES superintendent Patrick Michel said the students would spend part of their day at the BOCES Career and Technical Education facility in Johnstown then go back to their regular school for the rest of the day. It wouldn’t impact their participation in sports and other school activities, he said.
As the students progress into grades 10 and 11, they will be brought into local work sites to begin training, and they’ll get paid minimum wage while they work and learn.
Michel said the program is aimed at providing students with workplace skills to address difficulties business leaders have expressed about new workers. Many say they get entry-level workers who don’t seem to know how to work or behave in a workplace.
“We have companies around here that call me all the time,” Michel said, to ask what BOCES can do to provide entry-level workers with workplace skills.
He said he expects that between 25 and 30 students can be accommodated in the program, scheduled to begin in the fall.
In a similar direction, the HFM BOCES and Fulton-Montgomery Community College are inviting hundreds of eighth graders to a Career Exploration Day in early May.
The career exploration day will bring representatives from dozens of businesses together with students to give them an idea what types of jobs are out there. The event is expected to prompt young students to consider what type of work they might want to do once they finish school.