This is the first day in a new career for eleven former OCC students. Last Friday they completed the ten-week-long Apprenticeship Accelerator Career Training (AACT) program which prepared them for positions in manufacturing. Today marks the beginning of their 4-year apprenticeship which comes with benefits and built-in pay increases. “I’m excited. I’m looking forward to meeting my team and see where I’m going to be placed,” said Nathan Curran. He’s a 28-year-old United States Army veteran who was in between jobs when he heard about the program and decided to give it a try. Now he’s an employee of Bartell Machinery Systems in Rome. “I enjoy working with my hands and now I’m going to make things that make things.”
Curran is one of eleven students who completed the program. Each of them was hired by one of five employee partners: Bartell Machinery Systems in Rome, Kilian Manufacturing in Syracuse, Selflock Screw Products in Syracuse, PPC in East Syracuse and Stickley in Manlius. “The employers were very active participants,” said Mike Metzgar, Associate Vice President of Economic & Workforce Development. “They were here almost every week, meeting with students and speaking with them about which skills were important. It really took us to a new level. I’ve been in Workforce Development for 20 years and this is the most excited I’ve been about any of the work we’ve done.”
The instructor sharing his knowledge with students on a daily basis was Bill Cullen who began working in manufacturing 40 years ago. He structured every day like a work day: in at 8 a.m., a break schedule similar to that of a workplace and out by 4:30 p.m. “They were held to accountable work standards. This was very challenging and the best thing I’ve ever done. It was a great opportunity for each of the students,” said Cullen.
Another AACT program will be announced soon. Curran advises anyone interested to pursue it. “If you’re on the fence it’s definitely something you should give a shot. It’s eye-opening and gives you a lot of self-awareness.”
The AACT program is the product of a unique collaboration coordinated by OCC’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development. Training is provided by OCC with additional apprenticeship, project and employer support provided by the American Apprenticeship Initiative, Manufacturers Association of Central New York and Jobs for the Future.