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Hudson Valley Students Learn About Trade Skills, Careers at 23rd Annual Construction Career Day

Raven Astudillo, 17, a junior at Roosevelt High School in Yonkers, receives pointers in laying concrete block from instructor Chris Brozowski of Bricklayers Local 1 at the 23rd annual Hudson Valley Construction Career Day in Rockland County. (Photo courtesy of George Drapeau)
Raven Astudillo, 17, a junior at Roosevelt High School in Yonkers, receives pointers in laying concrete block from instructor Chris Brozowski of Bricklayers Local 1 at the 23rd annual Hudson Valley Construction Career Day in Rockland County. (Photo courtesy of George Drapeau)
Kyhiem Massaquoi, 15, a sophomore at Mount Vernon High School in Yonkers, tries out the self-rescue tripod and harness, actual equipment used in Laborers Local 60's confined space training class offered at its apprenticeship training center in Brewster, New York. 
(Photo courtesy of George Drapeau)
Kyhiem Massaquoi, 15, a sophomore at Mount Vernon High School in Yonkers, tries out the self-rescue tripod and harness, actual equipment used in Laborers Local 60's confined space training class offered at its apprenticeship training center in Brewster, New York. (Photo courtesy of George Drapeau)
Photo courtesy of Ed Cody
Photo courtesy of Ed Cody
SUFFERN, NY — High school students from across the Hudson Valley met with trade industry experts to participate in skills-building activities and learn about careers in the trades at the annual Hudson Valley Construction Career Day. More than 700 students filled the Rockland Community College Fieldhouse in Suffern to explore diverse careers in the construction and building trades, and learn about the financial and educational advantages of apprenticeship training. Representatives from the unions and private-sector companies engaged the students in demonstrations such as welding, carpentry, and soldering.

Hosted by the Construction Industry Council of Westchester & Hudson Valley, Inc. (CIC) and the Building Contractors Association of Westchester & Mid-Hudson, Inc. (BCA), Construction Career Day is designed to reinvigorate the industry’s labor force with young talent. The event marks the organizations’ 23rd year of supporting tomorrow’s workforce.

“The demand for skilled labor is increasing, and we’re seeing infrastructure investments at the state and federal levels, so there is clearly a need for these critical skills,” said Matthew Pepe, Executive Director of the BCA. “Apprenticeships offer young people the opportunity to learn and earn as they prepare for good-paying jobs right in their communities. We’re proud to be a part of this important effort to enhance our workforce, invest in our communities, and strengthen our overall economy.”

Registered apprenticeship programs in the building and construction trades provide participants with a nationally recognized credential that certifies occupational proficiency in the construction industry. Programs follow a “learn-while-you-earn” model, as participants earn wages that are graduated upward as the apprentice accumulates greater skills and experience on the job.

Blue Collar to New Collar
Mary Jane Bertram, Hudson Valley Regional Director for the Workforce Development Institute, talked about the importance of investing in technical training and new technology skills, and going from “blue collar to new collar”.

“Providing our youth with a variety of options to good-paying, family sustaining wages is an important mission and one that we are happy to assist with,” Bertram said. “These are careers that are local careers that provide a way for people to raise a family, buy a house, and to retire — it is a beautiful thing to have those benefits that continue for a lifetime.”

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A number of local, state, and federal representatives attended the event and talked about the importance of the trades as a career option for students who are not necessarily college-bound.

“This is about the American dream. I cannot believe the amount of people who are here today, trying to be a part of that,” said Rockland County Executive Ed Day. “It’s been about 18 years since I’ve been coming here, as a county legislator and as the county executive. What I feel most satisfied about, going back all those years, is that I know a number of these young people who now have good-paying jobs, are raising families, and have their own homes. This is a path to move forward and have a good life.”

Putnam County Executive Kevin Byrne said, “There are so many different opportunities for our young people to pursue in New York, in Putnam County, and the Hudson Valley. And, those opportunities aren’t just out of higher education, but through apprenticeship programs and through our friends in the labor community. You have an opportunity to not only learn from groups like this, but to work with them and stay in New York, stay in the Hudson Valley.”

Also attending were Donna Chiapperino, District Representative for U.S. Rep. Mike Lawler; Victoria Cafarelli, Representative for Assemblymember Dana Levenberg; and Westchester County Legislators James Nolan and David Tubiolo.

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