Eastern Monroe Career Center working to fill skilled trades gap

FAIRPORT, N.Y. (WHEC) — In an industry that is seeing record retirement rates, hundreds of thousands of construction and skilled trades jobs openings are flooding the state.

Eastern Monroe Career Center (EMCC), a program of Monroe One BOCES, is stepping in and filling the growing demand by training the next generation of students eager to step up. News10NBC’s Jenny Ly learned how immediately upon graduation these students will turn into workers already prepared for the job.

High school students like Victoria "Tori" Myers are getting hands-on experience as they prepare to fix infrastructure and build homes and hospitals in their futures.

“It’s really great because it opens opportunities not just for me,” Myers said.

Myers said her family has a long history in the construction industry. Her grandfather used to own a construction company.

“For people who are not big on school and don’t want to go to college, they can come here, learn a trade, they don’t have to go school and they can go right out get a job with two years’ experience,” she said.

Entry-level workers earn about $18-$20 an hour with full benefits once hired, and they won’t have any college debt to worry about, according to the program’s educators.

“This enables them to see that you can make a good living working with your hands and a good work ethic,” said Steve Stanley, a construction trades teacher at the Eastern Monroe Career Center. “They can have a good living while doing what they like to do for a living at the same time.”

“Our system works,” said Jomo Akono, council representative for the North Atlantic States Regional Council of Carpenters, one of the unions training the students.

“Many of our members are retiring every few months, and our system works where you earn while you learn. We teach apprentices and those apprentices replace those trades workers who worked their career and retire,” Akono said.

Students in the program like Tori say this is a great way to test the waters especially if they are active, hands-on learners.

“It’s kind of an escape for me out of school. If I’m dealing with stress or anything like that it’s a really great opportunity to come here and kind of get out of my head for a little while, build stuff, interact with people and not be sitting at a desk all day,” she said.

Click here for more information about the EMCC.