FREDONIA, NY (WNY News Now) – Over a dozen high school students in Chautauqua County are gaining additional hands-on experience thanks to a Jamestown manufacturer.
18 high school seniors enrolled at the Erie 2-Chautauqua-Cattaraugus BOCES in Fredonia studying welding took on a final project this spring, creating a grill from scratch thanks in part to materials donated by Jamestown Advanced Products.
“As a growing local manufacturer, we’re always looking to cultivate young talent in the trades,” said Josh Lodestro, Director, at Jamestown Advanced. “Partnering with E2CCB for projects like this just makes sense so we can start to build relationships with the next generation of skilled workers.”
The collaboration between the company and these students comes at a critical time for employers like Jamestown Advanced that are challenged to find qualified tradespeople to fill open positions.
According to the American Welding Society, which declared April as National Welding Month, there will be 360,000 open welding positions across the country by 2027.
“One of the many great parts about a Career & Technical Education is that our programs align with needs in the industry, which gives our students the best chance to directly enter the workforce upon graduation if they choose to do so,” said Kevin Bourgoine, E2CCB Director of Adult Education and Workforce Development. “In a program such as welding, students aren’t just learning a trade; they’re learning a lucrative art form that allows their imagination to run wild.”
The two-year welding-metal fabrication program prepares students for post-secondary education and enables the young welders to develop specialized and sought-after skills for employment in the metal fabrication industry.
“The welding program has been exciting. I was interested in a few CTE programs, but I’m glad I ended up in this program because it’s been great,” said Dominic Suraf of Gowanda. “We’ve worked on some cool projects, like a complete go-kart, a pig roast smoker and these grills from Jamestown Advanced Products.”
While enrolled in the program, students like Dominic have the opportunity to participate in internships with area welding businesses, manufacturers and custom vehicle companies.
After graduation they have the skills and resume to seek apprenticeships or employment with local manufacturers like Jamestown Advanced.
Lodestro said Jamestown Advanced is on its second year of offering paid welding internships to E2CCB students. These internships help students apply what they are learning in the classroom to a factory setting, and build a well-rounded resume to use after graduation.
“According to the Wall Street Journal, more than half of Americans do not think a college degree is worth the cost. Programs offered by E2CCB offer a pathway to a successful skilled job upon graduating high school without any college debt,” he said.
Jamestown Advanced, which currently employs 150 people between its administration building and 179,000 square-foot factory at 2855 Girts Road in Jamestown.