Cooperative Ed Helps Employers Fill Much Needed Positions

Mayhew Steel

TURNERS FALLS, MA – Franklin County Technical School’s Cooperative Education program had its most successful year ever in placing students into jobs, internships and job shadowing.

Forty nine seniors and 22 juniors worked at paying jobs and 12 students participated in internships and job shadowing at 59 area companies. The Cooperative Education program is available to seniors and second semester juniors. They work jobs for a minimum of 30 hours every other week, while the internships are non-paid temporary positions.

Those juniors in the program will work at their current jobs through the summer and continue throughout their senior year. During the 2016-2017 school year, 26 seniors worked at Cooperative Education jobs, and eight juniors worked during the summer.

“This is the most students we’ve ever had out working co-op jobs,” said Raye M. Young, FCTS Cooperative Education coordinator.

Formerly a Business instructor, Young started as full-time Cooperative Education coordinator last year. She is now able to devote all of her time to promoting the program and building up relationships with businesses. Having a full-time coordinator, coupled with a strong economy, has made the program more successful than ever.

“Businesses need help now,” Young said. “We’re in the position to help those businesses with their employment needs.”

Young finds job leads a number of ways. She often receives calls from businesses, and she cold calls others. Young will also reach out to the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce and other organizations. Employers are not confined to Franklin County, as the tech school’s reputation for turning out hardworking students recently resulted in students being hired at companies in Vermont and New Hampshire.

Young is quick to credit the students with making themselves marketable to potential employers.

“I’m the liaison between the employer and the student,” she said. “The students obtain the jobs. I don’t place them. I get the job information and I pass it onto the shop teacher and they pass it onto the student.”

Young stays in touch with the employer to make sure everything is working out between them and the student. She also educates employers on related issues like child labor laws.

The students use “soft skills” Young teaches them to get hired, such as job interviewing skills, how to dress, maintaining eye contact with an interviewer, proper handshake, punctuality, researching the company where they are seeking a job, maintaining good posture, being polite, and much more.

Students also introduce themselves to potential employers at Franklin County Technical School’s annual Career Expo, which was established by Young. Students again use soft skills to interview business representatives and network, which often leads to a co-op job.

November’s Career Expo attracted a record 41 businesses from Franklin County and beyond. The average number of employers to participate in the event is 25-30.

Some of the more popular Cooperative Education jobs include restaurant work, electrical, automotive, collision repair, machine technology, and health technology.

“For the first time in the history of the school, every shop had someone out on co-op,” Young said. “The Programming and Web Design shop never had anyone out on co-op before. This year they had four.”

This school year, 29 new employers hired FCTS students through the Cooperative Education program. The 49 seniors in the program are from a class of 117. Young has ambitious plans to help all senior class students find work.

“My long term goal is to have every student have work experience before leaving high school, whether it it’s an internship, job shadow or co-op job,” she said.

Lisa Delisle, director of Human Resources at Mayhew Steel Products, Inc. in Turners Falls, said her company hires between 1-3 Cooperative Education students a year. They have worked in various roles at the company including in information technology, welding, CNC machine operation, CAD, general office work and more.

Some students are hired for permanent jobs after they graduate from the tech school.

“Having the co-op students works really well for us,” Delisle said. “They have some knowledge of manufacturing processes. We hope that we’re teaching them a good work ethic and best practices. They come with a skill set. We hope to be able to increase that skill set and hire them long term.”

Area employers who hire FCTS students give glowing reviews for their intelligence, professionalism, dedication and work ethic.

“We look for students who come here with a desire to learn and prove themselves in the workforce,” said Stephen Strong, maintenance foreman for the UMASS Amherst Controls HVAC. “FCTS consistently delivers competent students who can identify the subsequent steps in a project with a sense of professionalism beyond their years. We look forward to working with the dedicated students of FCTS with the hopes that we will be able to expand our involvement with the Cooperative Education program.”

Max Peronich, operations manager at Sisson Engineering of Northfield, said Franklin County Technical School does a terrific job in preparing its students to hit the ground running when they begin their careers.

“For continued success in manufacturing we rely on a skilled work force; by FCTS introducing its students to the manufacturing industry via its co-op program, it better prepares them for employment in a competitive yet rewarding career,” he said. “I look forward to many more students continuing to learn and grow through the program here at Sisson Engineering.”

Delisle said the Cooperative Education students are “very good workers and are eager to learn.”

“They’re prepped really well by Raye,” she said. “She does a good job getting them ready for the workforce.”

In appreciation for participating in the Cooperative Education program, Young recently awarded commemorative plaques to all of this year’s employers. Made by the FCTS CAD/CAM program, the plaques were inscribed with the name of each employer and company logo and read: “In recognition of their contribution and commitment to the education of the future workforce of America.”

The 2017-2018 Cooperative Education Partners are:

  • Keyes Electric – Electrical
  • Mayhew Steel – Welding and Metal Fabrication/Programming & Web Development/Machine Technology
  • Bob Cartelli’s Automotive Repair Shop – Collision Repair and Refinishing/Automotive Technology
  • Meineke Car Care Center – Automotive Technology
  • Berkshire East – Landscaping and Horticulture/Culinary
  • DiGeorge Builders – Carpentry
  • Obear Construction – Carpentry
  • Matt’s Automotive – Automotive Technology
  • ArtsPromo – Programming and Web Design
  • Doug’s Auto Body – Collision Repair and Refinishing
  • Greg’s Auto Body – Collision Repair and Refinishing
  • Doug’s Carpentry and Roofing – Carpentry
  • Mark’s Auto – Automotive Technology
  • George Propane – Plumbing and Heating
  • G&W Precision – Machine Technology
  • Great Clips – Cosmetology
  • DuMont – Machine Technology
  • Sisson Engineering – Machine Technology
  • Warner Farm – Automotive Technology
  • TJ’s Taylor Rental – Automotive Technology
  • The Chopping Block – Cosmetology
  • Hawlemont Elementary – Landscaping and Horticulture
  • Hager’s Farm Market – Landscaping and Horticulture
  • Snow & Sons Landscaping – Landscaping and Horticulture
  • Frank Marchand Plumbing – Plumbing and Heating
  • Lundgren Honda – Automotive Technology
  • Hartnett Plumbing – Plumbing and Heating
  • Vermont Country Deli – Culinary
  • Farren Care Center – Health Technology
  • Buckley Healthcare – Health Technology
  • Marney Electric – Electrical
  • John Warriner, DBA/North River on Site – Programming & Web Development
  • Toyota of Greenfield – Automotive Technology
  • Murphy Electric – Electrical
  • Kevin Grey Builders – Carpentry
  • Lundgren Honda – Automotive Technology
  • Erving Paper – Electrical
  • Palmeri Electric – Electrical
  • Integrity Development and Construction, Inc. – Carpentry
  • West County Equipment Rentals – Automotive Technology
  • Baystate Franklin Medical Center – Health Technology
  • ASAP Plumbing – Plumbing and Heating
  • Detecto Guard – Electrical
  • North Amherst Motors – Collision Repair and Refinishing
  • Franklin County Technical School – Electrical
  • Greenfield Community College – Plumbing and Heating
  • Premiere Supply Group – Plumbing and Heating
  • Jankowski Plumbing – Plumbing and Heating
  • Poplar Hill Machine – Machine Technology
  • UMASS – Culinary Arts/Electrical
  • Quabbin Valley Convalescent – Health Technology
  • Osgood Electric – Electrical
  • Deerfield Academy – Plumbing and Heating
  • Jamrog HVAC – Plumbing and Heating
  • Liebenow Auto Body — Collision Repair and Refinishing
  • MJ Moran — Plumbing and Heating
  • JJ’s Trailers — Welding and Metal Fabrication
  • Deerfield Valley Refab — Welding and Metal Fabrication
  • Judd Wire — Electrical

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