By Lisa Bielmeier
Orleans/Niagara BOCES Public Relations Director
Helping local employers connect with new skilled tradespeople is an important goal for the Orleans/Niagara BOCES adult skilled trades programs.
During the spring semester, the machining and welding classes at the Orleans / Niagara BOCES Workforce Development Center in Niagara Falls gave a tour to local employer Jack Watson of HFW Industries and showed off their new skills. In turn, students heard from Watson about opportunities at HFW Industries in Buffalo.
According to the Regional Development Council’s 2022 Western New York Progress Report, the advanced manufacturing sector in the region comprised over 1,500 firms in 2021, with roughly 62,000 jobs (with an average wage of $70,510), and saw a 43% increase in job postings between 2020 and 2021. The report states, “The sector faces retirement cliffs and hiring gaps … pointing to a major need for awareness and training in the skilled trades.”
The O/N BOCES adult skilled trades programs seek to fill this gap by providing training for area residents toward well-paid positions in regional manufacturing businesses. The welding program is a 216-hour class that meets four evenings a week for four months with introductory training in MIG, TIG, and STIK welding. Machining is a 160-hour class that meets three evenings a week with training in mills, lathes, and CNC machine operation.
O/N BOCES skilled trades classes for adults include welding, machining and building trades in Niagara Falls, automotive technology in Sanborn, and electrical and HVAC in Lockport. Experienced tradespeople act as teachers to train a new generation, providing foundational skills as well as exposure to local businesses.
Fall classes run from Sept. 18 through Dec. 21. Funding to cover tuition and tools is available through local county WorkSource One offices.
For information on classes, interested students should contact ON BOCES by calling 716-731-6800 and asking for adult skilled trades, or by visiting https://wnytrades.com/programs/.
Local employer Jack Watson of HFW Industries; welding student Joe Fagiani; machining teacher Scott Lange; welding students Aaron Clifton, Brandon Luna, Kyron Green and Fred Pascolini; welding teacher Shannon Rutty; machining students Adam Muzzi and Almas Begum; welding student Tomi Jackman; and machining student Jacob Drake.