BOCES

Meet Stephen Casa – Workplace Learning Coordinator at Ulster BOCES

 

Stephen Casa has been the Workplace Learning Coordinator at Ulster BOCES since early 2018. Ulster BOCES operates as an extension of local school districts that provides shared programs and educational services, serving eight public schools throughout the county. Casa plays an interesting role acting as the lead connector between BOCES programs and the business community. At the moment he’s playing an important part in building relationships for the Hudson Valley Pathways Academy and the Career and Technical Education Center specifically.   

Casa attended Saint John’s University to study Management and Finance, and later got his master’s degree in Instructional Technology from the New York Institute of Technology. After college he started his career in education as a math teacher to middle school students in Brooklyn. His goal at the time was to eventually teach business courses at the high school level. His career took a turn when he decided to take a leap of faith and walk into the high school a week before school was starting to inquire about any openings. He went into the building a middle school math teacher and walked out with a full-time position at James Madison High School in a program called the Academy of Finance.

Casa’s role in the Academy of Finance set his career on the path that it is today. The Academy of Finance is a member of the National Academy Foundation (NAF). It’s a progressive model that combines schoolwork with experiential learning. The academy’s connections with the business community helped students secure paid summer internships and gain real-world experience. Casa told us that this was his first exposure to “education as it should be.”

As the Workplace Learning Coordinator for Ulster BOCES, Casa also works closely with the Council of Industry. The Council of Industry is the lead Industry Partner for the Hudson Valley Pathways Academy, and Casa works directly with many members to help setup workplace learning challenges.  These challenges are immersive projects given to the students at Hudson Valley Pathways Academy by local businesses. Casa also helps coordinate internship opportunities for students through his connections with the business community. “The Council of Industry has been incredibly helpful in identifying businesses that see the benefit of engaging with Ulster BOCES and the students” said Casa.

Casa is passionate about what he does and told us that making connections and watching those connections make a real impact are the best parts of his job. He believes giving students real-world experience as early as possible plays a big role in preparing them for their future. Casa told us that if he could offer some advice to young adults it would be to, “take any opportunity you can get to work with the business community, whether it’s a job shadow or an internship. Those learning experiences are what open your eyes to what’s possible.”   

Hudson Valley Pathways Academy has seen tremendous success since its beginning just a few years ago. The P-TECH school offers a six-year pathway of study, which results in students earning an associate’s degree and puts them first in line for available positions with industry partners. The Career and Technical Education Center also prepares students for the future by offering dozens of high-tech training programs that lead to in-demand jobs. With both programs experiencing such success, we asked Casa what his biggest challenges have been along the way. He told us that getting education providers and business partners to fully recognize the benefits of working together has been a struggle, but when you finally get them at the same table and allow them to see the win-wins it can make significant change.

The future of education is bright, and the programs offered at Ulster BOCES are a shining example of what’s to come. Experiential learning will likely play a much larger role in education in the future. Today many students don’t get real-world experience until after high school or during college. However, we’re already beginning to see the shift with Ulster BOCES. Casa emphasized the importance of teaching young adults how to be adaptable and believes that the work they’re doing at Ulster BOCES is setting these students up with the skills they need to be successful.

If you’d like to learn more about Ulster BOCES or find out how you can be involved visit www.ultserboces.org.  

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Meet Josh – Apprentice at LoDolce Machine

 

Josh has been working at LoDolce Machine Company for a little less than a year as a Machine Operator of both Lathes and Mills. LoDolce manufacturers the parts and components needed to produce safe, high quality products. Their parts can be found in New York subways, x-ray machines, fighter planes and more.

When Josh started working at LoDolce last year it came with a bit of a learning curve. He came into the position with a vast amount of prior experience within the manufacturing industry. However, learning to work with metal and the different grains of steel used at LoDolce was a challenge he hadn’t yet faced in his career.

Josh grew up right here in the Hudson Valley. In high school he never considered a career in manufacturing. After graduation he decided to attend the University of Providence in Great Falls, Montana where he was gearing towards a career in either accounting or law; but before he finished his degree Josh returned home to Beacon, NY where he began working full-time.

He spent some time working in construction and later entered the manufacturing industry. Before working at LoDolce Josh was a Lathes Operator and Programmer at Saturn Industries in Hudson. He started at the bottom and eventually worked his way up to CNC Machining. He first learned about CNC machines during a 2-week class with Questar III BOCES in Hudson, and the instructor later recommended him for the job at Saturn Industries.

Josh joined the Council of Industry’s Registered Apprentice Program last summer shortly after he started at LoDolce. He’s currently registered under the Machinist (CNC) trade and has taken a variety of related instruction courses while also receiving on-the-job training. Josh first learned about the program from Mark Harris, Director of Manufacturing at LoDolce. Josh said that, “the chance to become a better machinist – and the ability to take on a greater amount of responsibility while having a better understanding of the work” were his primary reasons for joining the program.

Registered apprentices are required to complete 144 hours of related instruction for each year they’re in the program. To help apprentices complete these hours they are each provided with a free subscription to Tooling-U, which allows them to take online courses at their convenience. Additionally, SUNY Ulster has an Advanced Manufacturing Program that allows apprentices to take up to $5,000 worth of trade related courses for free.

Josh enjoys his career as a CNC Machinist and he’s excited to be a part of the apprentice program. He told us, “I really enjoy making things. There are new challenges every day and it’s rewarding when you can come up with solutions to those challenges.”

The demand for CNC Machinists continues to grow, and that need is felt throughout the Hudson Valley. CNC Machinists are hard to find and as the older generations transition into retirement, young people don’t have the skills needed to replace them. The Council of Industry’s Registered Apprentice program is one potential source to help fill these open positions. Through formal training this program can provide apprentices that have an aptitude for machining with the necessary skills to be successful.

The Apprentice Program consists of both related instruction courses and on-the-job training. Related Instruction courses are taken by the apprentice outside of work and teach more knowledge-based facets of the trade. On-the-job training requires a journey-level employee, capable and willing to share their experience, to work with the apprentice in hands-on instruction. Combined these two elements provide the apprentice with a more well-rounded understanding of the trade.

The apprentice program typically takes two to four years to complete, and there are currently six registered trades: Machinist (CNC)Electro-Mechanical TechnicianMaintenance MechanicQuality Assurance AuditorToolmaker and Industrial Manufacturing Technician. If you are a manufacturing employer or a potential apprentice click here for more information or contact Johnnieanne Hansen at (845) 565-1355 or jhansen@councilofindustry.org to discuss details, requirements and potential opportunities.

 

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A Value Proposition with an Altruistic Twist

 

By Guest Blogger Stephen Casa

Last month I wrote about the incredible opportunity businesses have to find and cultivate talent, by partnering with a local BOCES. This month I’d love to tell you what happens at one and how you can benefit. I’ll use Ulster BOCES as an example.

Ulster BOCES provides cost effective solutions to eight component school districts by offering programming for students and adults, professional development for educators, and much more. There are close to thirty, industry specific, programs offered at the Career & Technical Center, Hudson Valley Pathways Academy and Special Education Center.

Instructors and staff in these programs are highly skilled in that area, in fact, many come directly from industry with many still actively engaged. Students are given the opportunity to learn and be trained on the most current and innovative technology using industry vetted curriculum. Students are also offered authentic experiences in the local workforce such as field trips, guest speakers, job shadowing, mentoring, internships, etc. These are all managed by a workplace learning coordinator. Ulster BOCES collaborates with the county workforce development office to ensure our future workforce has the soft skills necessary to be successful in the workplace.

As you can see, a partnership with your local BOCES can be a cost effective, value add for your company.

In 1948, the New York State legislature created Boards of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES) to provide shared educational programs and services to school districts within the state. Today there are 37 BOCES that are partnering with nearly all of the state’s school districts to help meet students’ evolving educational needs through cost-effective and relevant programs. Learn more and find a BOCES program near you here.

 Stephen Casa
Workplace Learning Coordinator
Ulster BOCES
scasa@ulsterboces.org
 www.ulsterboces.org

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There’s Gold in the Hills of the Hudson Valley

How Partnering with Education Institutions can Help Identify your Future Workforce

By Guest Blogger Stephen Casa

As I travel around the Hudson Valley meeting with various leaders in industry, I hear the same concern, “We can’t find enough qualified employees to fill the positions that are being left vacant by retirement, innovation, etc.” This is where a value added strategy can benefit employers: developing collaborative partnerships with education.

The value proposition is simple, participate with an educational institution in one of the following ways: content area consulting, curriculum development, field trip provision, guest speaking, mentoring students, job shadowing, providing externship opportunities for educators, providing internships (compensated and non-compensated) for students who demonstrate readiness, sit on advisory boards, etc. All of these opportunities will allow the education institution to provide you with a glimpse of your potential workforce and it will create an opportunity for young people to learn about your business/industry. They will also be trained in your culture. Often these partnerships lead to long term employment, initially they get you what you need, prepared, employable, entry level employees.

Don’t hesitate to act, contact your local BOCES today and ask how you can be a part of the solution.

Stay connected as I will be contributing regularly with more specific instructions for engagement.

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