Meet Jacob: Apprentice at Elna Magnetics


Jacob has been working at Elna Magnetics for the past 7 months as a Machinist. Elna Magnetics is a custom machine shop producing specialized ferrite cores; they provide custom machining services as well as authorized distribution of an extensive range of magnetic products. They provide their customers with both standard and custom solutions for power, signal, suppression and RFID applications. Jacob’s role as machinist is integral in ensuring accuracy, and when serving the industrial, medical, military and aerospace industries that exactness is incredibly important. He’s responsible for setting up each machine to specific specs and grinding the stones down to precise thousands of an inch to get the desired electrical readings.

Jacob grew up in Saugerties, NY and jumped into the manufacturing industry after graduating from high school. He started his career at Simulaids, a local manufacturer that produces healthcare training aids such as CPR manikins, patient simulators and trauma moulage products. Jacob spent a year at Simulaids exploring several different departments. He gained experience using heat sealers, large machines that use radio frequencies to seal materials together, he was also exposed to CNC machining and programing, and spent some time working in the foam room which ensures that the manikins are the correct texture, consistency and weight. During his time there Jacob got experience in a lot of different areas of the industry and discovered that he most enjoyed the time he spent working with CNC machines.

Before working at Simulaids Jacob was unsure about his career. However, after spending several years working in manufacturing and seeing firsthand the opportunities to learn and advance, Jacob told us that he plans to stay in the industry. He is currently an Industrial Manufacturing Technician (IMT) Apprentice at Elna where he’s further developing his skills and gaining a more well rounded understanding of manufacturing. The IMT apprenticeship is an entry level program for individuals just starting out in the industry and its often used as a stepping stone to the other trades: Machinist (CNC), Toolmaker, Maintenance Mechanic, Quality Assurance and Electro-Mechanical Technician. Jacob told us that he hopes to transition into the CNC Machinist trade after completing his current apprenticeship.

Jacob shared with us that he’s learned a lot so far during his time at Elna and the apprentice program has been instrumental in expanding that knowledge even further. He first learned about the program from his boss Jimmy Ferarro who recommended that he join. “I wanted to take on more responsibility in my career and the apprentice program seemed like a great opportunity to learn more and potentially put myself onto a better career trajectory” said Jacob.

Apprentices that are enrolled in the Council of Industry’s NYS Registered Apprentice Program are required to complete a combination of on-the-job training with a skilled mentor, and related instruction courses that teach the more fundamental aspects of the trade. Jacob told us that he’s found the related instruction courses especially helpful. So far he’s taken Manufacturing Math Fundamentals and Introduction to Mechanical Properties through Tooling-U, an online learning platform designed for the manufacturing industry. He told us that he’s been able to proactively apply the knowledge he’s gained from those courses in his day-to-day responsibilities at Elna. He said, “Through the testing in Tooling-U I definitely have a better understanding of the industry and my current role.”

Jacob also plans to take advantage of the related instruction courses offered through SUNY Ulster. Through the SUNY Apprenticeship Grant, SUNY Ulster allows registered apprentices to take up to $5,000 worth of trade-related classes for free. Many apprentices have taken advantage of this program by enrolling in their Advanced Manufacturing Program, and Jacob hopes to do the same. 

You can learn more about Elna Magnetics in the latest issue of HV Mfg Magazine HERE and on the Council of Industry Podcast HERE

If you are a manufacturing employer or a potential apprentice click here for more information or contact Johnnieanne Hansen at (845) 565-1355 or to discuss details, requirements and potential opportunities.


read more »

Meet Barbara Reer – Director of Professional Technology Programs at SUNY Ulster


Meet Barbara Reer, the Director of Professional Technology Programs in SUNY Ulster’s Continuing and Professional Education Department. Reer has been instrumental in leading SUNY Ulster’s Advanced Manufacturing Program, which helps educate students at all levels about the many opportunities for success available in the manufacturing industry. They offer a wide range of courses taken by apprentices, pre-apprentices, current employees in the industry looking to update or gain new skills, and even interested individuals who have no previous experience in manufacturing.

Reer’s role also goes beyond Advanced Manufacturing to include the Building Science, Web Development and Clean Tech programs. She writes grants, programs courses, seeks funding and works directly with students to build career pathways by assessing their performance in the programs and helping them find job leads. Reer herself has an Engineering degree and was part of the first graduating class with women in engineering at Western New England University. She later went on to work in manufacturing, gaining firsthand experience that she uses to help her students today.  

“What I enjoy the most about this job is working with the students and helping them face their challenges.” Said Reer. “Sometimes we get students who tried college a long time ago and it didn’t work out for them, but now they’re coming back and discovering that with the right career pathway they can succeed.” SUNY Ulster offers both credit and non-credit courses to help meet the needs of all their students. Credit bearing courses help students work towards a degree or micro-credential. Non-credit courses provide no physical certification but help build knowledge and improve skills.

Reer told us that its often rewarding to see students transition from one program to the other. She’s seeing a spike in the amount of young people interested in manufacturing and recently helped a student working towards his Associate’s degree in Sound Engineering transition into the Manufacturing Certificate Program. His decision to switch was largely motivated by the steady, well-paying career opportunities available for CNC Machinists. He’ll compete his degree by taking manufacturing related courses as electives and start the Manufacturing Certificate Program the following semester.

Reer also works with local employers and educates them about the opportunities available to train their current workforce. She provides them with information about courses and even helps secure funding when necessary. To help with the cost SUNY Ulster applied for and received the SUNY Apprenticeship Grant, which gives registered apprentices the opportunity to take up to $5,000 worth of trade-related courses for free. They also received funding for the Pre-Apprentice Program, which will pay for $500 worth of courses for students in entry level positions who aren’t yet at the apprentice level.

The biggest hesitation and challenge that Reer sees employers and students facing is finding the time to take advantage of these training opportunities. Attending classes after work can lead to very long days that some students either can’t or don’t want to commit to, and employers often prefer that they don’t take classes during work hours. This is an obstacle that they’re still working on solving, but Reer told us that in an effort to help she actively goes out into the community and establishes relationships with manufacturers to work on developing programs that better fit their needs.   

However, Reer told us that when students and employers are committed to the process there is a tremendous opportunity for growth. She shared with us that about 6 years ago SUNY Ulster had a Guaranteed Jobs Program to help build a pool of qualified and skilled workers for manufacturers in the area. They had a student who enrolled in the program and went on to work for Fair-Rite Products as a Welder. He recently returned to SUNY Ulster looking to upgrade his skills and learn more about CNC machining. “It’s so good to see that 6 years ago he took an entry level course with us and now he’s coming back for additional training so he can move up the career ladder at his company.” Said Reer.

As for the future of workforce training, Reer told us that SUNY Ulster is partnering with The Arc in an attempt to duplicate a program being offered in California that helps train students with intellectual and developmental disabilities for manufacturing jobs. This is all part of SUNY Ulster’s plan to reach deeper into the community and build the manufacturing workforce needed in the Hudson Valley. The college is also embracing applied learning initiatives and shifting towards a more hands-on approach to teaching.

If you’re interested in learning more about SUNY Ulster’s Advanced Manufacturing Programs you can contact Barbara Reer at or (845) 802-7171. There are still seats available for an upcoming CNC Programming course starting mid-October and a Blueprint Reading course coming up in November. Please reach out for more information about course descriptions, times and locations.



The Council of Industry offers a variety of resources to help strengthen the Hudson Valley’s manufacturing workforce. 

A NYS Registered Apprentice Program helps manufacturers build their workforce from within. The program has two basic elements. The first, On-the-Job Training (OJT), consists of a journey-level, craft person capable and willing to share their experience with an apprentice, in a hands-on manner. The second, Related Instruction (RI), consists of learning more theoretical or knowledge-based aspects of a craft. Currently available trades include: CNC Machinist, Electro-Mechanical Technician, Maintenance Mechanic, Quality Assurance Auditor, Toolmaker and Industrial Manufacturing Technician (IMT). 

The Council of Industry also offers a Collaborative Recruiting Initiative to help members attract the qualified candidates they need to fill their job openings. Participating companies post their job opportunities on our manufacturing-specific job board: to attract individuals with the skills and aptitude needed to succeed. 

For more information about these resources please contact Johnnieanne Hansen at or (845) 565-1355. 

read more »

Meet Thomas: CNC Apprentice at Usheco


Thomas has been working in manufacturing since he was only 14, and his love of working with his hands led him to Usheco just about 6 months ago. He currently works as a Production Operator and splits his time between the Thermoforming and CNC Departments. Usheco is a manufacturer of custom molded plastic parts. They utilize injection molding, thermoforming, line bending and CNC routing to provide a wide variety of quality parts for their customers. Thomas helps mold these parts in the Thermoforming Department and then later assists with routing the pieces to different specs using the CNC machines.  

Thomas was born and raised in the Hudson Valley, and continues to enjoy living and working in Saugerties, NY. Growing up he attended Saugerties High School where he had the opportunity to take courses at Ulster BOCES, as well as some in-school vocational classes such as electrical, welding and technology. Instead Thomas opted to get some real-world experience in an area that interested him. He began working a part-time job in marble and granite counter-top fabrication while he was still in high school. He started out as a general laborer, but after graduation he began working full-time which eventually led to him becoming Head Fabricator.

When it was time for a change Thomas started looking for opportunities that would allow him to continue working with his hands. His background gave him a solid foundation to continue learning and growing in his new position at Usheco. He told us that he’s enjoyed working with the CNC department the most because it’s given him experience with new machinery such as lathes and mills, as well as computer programming, which are skills that he didn’t previously have.

Since Thomas works in various departments, he has the privilege of seeing products go through the entire process from start to finish. This is an aspect of the job that he enjoys and finds rewarding. As an example Thomas shared that Usheco makes products for a local company that supplies emergency safety personnel with CPR and rescue manikins. Thomas plays a role in molding the different parts that go into these manikins and then later assists with finishing and customization in the CNC department.

He found out about the Council of Industry’s Registered Apprentice Program when Usheco opened up the opportunity to current employees. Thomas is now officially registered as a CNC apprentice. Although he currently works in both the Thermoforming and CNC Departments, his hope is to eventually work only with the CNC machines and believes that the skills and training he’ll gain from the apprentice program will give him the experience needed to make that possible.

Apprentices learn about their trade through a combination of on-the-job training and related instruction. The opportunity to gain knowledge through related instruction was what initially made Thomas want to join the program. He told us, “It sounded really interesting to have the chance to enroll in some college courses and take it one step further than just in-house training.” Apprentices have the ability to complete their related instruction hours online or through local community colleges. SUNY Ulster for example has taken advantage of the SUNY Apprenticeship Grant which allows apprentices to take up to $5,000 worth of trade related classes for free.

Alethea Shuman, VP of Sales and Engineering at Usheco told us, “We decided to join the apprenticeship program in order to provide our team with a more structured training program and more specified training.  Our hope is to increase our team’s cumulative knowledge in order to develop improved processes and advance our manufacturing capabilities to stay competitive in the near and long-term future.” Fairly new to the program, Usheco already has 3 apprentices registered under the CNC and Industrial Manufacturing Technician (IMT) trades. “We are proud to have Tommy enrolled in the CNC Machinist Apprenticeship Program.” Said Shuman. “Tommy embraces the challenge of learning new skill sets and we look forward to supporting and watching him expand his knowledge and expertise while applying his new skills here at Usheco.”

If you are a manufacturing employer or a potential apprentice click here for more information or contact Johnnieanne Hansen at (845) 565-1355 or to discuss details, requirements and potential opportunities.

read more »

Meet Todd – Apprentice at Pietryka Plastics


Todd has been working at Pietryka Plastics for the past 7 months as a Machine Operator. He works the night shift and spends his time making sure the machines are up and running efficiently.  Pietryka Plastics is a leader in the injection-molding business. Through the use of high-tech robotics they supply custom plastic parts to a wide range of industries including: cosmetic, pharmaceutical, automotive, packaging, and electronics.

Todd was born and raised in Connecticut and moved to New York just over 16 years ago. He’s worked in a variety of different industries throughout his career including retail, landscaping, automotive and manufacturing. In high school his primary interest was in the automotive industry. Although his high school at the time was cutting vocational education programs, Todd was able to convince his teachers to allow him to bring in his car for himself and his classmates to work on. He spent most of his free time rebuilding lawn mower engines and fixing up his car.

After high school he entered the workforce as an Automotive Technician in Connecticut. For nearly 20 years he spent his time working on cars and trucks, a passion he realized early on in life. Todd first entered the manufacturing industry when he began working at Pietryka as a Machine Operator. From the start he enjoyed being able to work with his hands and he learned the trade fairly quickly. He worked at Pietryka for 8 years, but when things slowed down he went on to do other things for a few years before returning about 7 months ago.

Todd learned about the apprentice program from his supervisor and was eager to join. They worked together to determine how best to accommodate his night shift schedule. The Council of Industry’s Registered Apprentice Program requires a combination of both on-the-job training and related instruction, and Todd was worried that his work schedule would make it difficult for him to complete his related instruction courses. They were able to come to a solution and Todd now arrives 30 minutes early to each shift and spends time working on his Tooling-U courses.

Apprentices get a free subscription to Tooling-U, an online training platform designed specifically for the manufacturing industry, to help them complete the required 144 hours of yearly related instruction. Todd told us he was hesitant to use the program, and worried that because he learns much better in hands-on scenarios that online classes would be a challenge for him. However, he’s been pleasantly surprised at how simple the program has been for him to navigate thus far.

Todd told us that each class he’s completed has taught him something new. He said “I’m thankful to have been given this opportunity and the chance to accomplish new things.” Todd’s registered under the Industrial Manufacturing Technician (IMT) trade and he’s currently about two months into the year and a half long program.

The IMT trade is the Council of Industry’s newest approved trade. The program is shorter than the others and allows employees of different industries and backgrounds to gain a better understanding of manufacturing while receiving the benefits of being a registered apprentice. Apprentices that show an aptitude for other trades while in the program can later go into longer apprenticeships for fields such as maintenance mechanic, toolmaker or CNC machinist. Thus far the IMT trade has been popular with employees entering the manufacturing field for the first time with an interest to learn and grow within the industry.

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 to discuss details, requirements and potential opportunities.

read more »