September 19, 2022
“It’s hard finding good help,” says nearly every company in the industry, and compounding that challenge is the noticeable drop in the numbers of young people entering the trades over the past decade — a particularly worrisome problem as Baby Boomers reach retirement age.
Meyda Lighting, a domestic lighting manufacturer in Upstate New York, has had success with its work-based learning program in partnership with the Oneida-Herkimer-Madison BOCES Career & Technical Educational Center in New Haven, New York. Meyda’s program offered students internship opportunities in three trades in 2021-2022: Welding, Electricity, and Construction.
The students typically spend 4 to 6 weeks, 2 to 3 days a week, working closely with Meyda employees to gain first-hand experience in the various skilled trades and positions. The main objective is to expose students to the workplace and develop their skills so that they can apply them to a career upon graduation (ideally with Meyda).
“Meyda helped support our internship program by providing placement sites and in-field instructors,” said Kimberly Petronella, the Work Based Learning Coordinator, Health Occupations Coordinator/Instructor Skills USA Co-Advisor at Oneida-Herkimer-Madison BOCES. “Through the internships, Meyda allows our students access to their employees, to work with them side by side to learn and foster development of their trade skills. The students get to work with skilled professionals on actual projects that a customer has ordered.”
She added, “With Meyda Lighting fostering this partnership, students are able to take the experiences, and skills they are learning in our classroom and labs, out into the ‘real world.’ The students gain an appreciation and understanding of time management, project completion and teamwork, all of which are essential skills in the workplace. Through Meyda Lighting’s support of our O-H-M BOCES,CTE internship program, they are fostering the next generation of skilled workers.”
Working at the lighting manufacturer’s factory has been a hit with students. “The students genuinely enjoyed their time and experiences at Meyda Lighting,” Petronella remarked. “Each time I met with the students following an internship week, or while doing a site visit, the students always spoke highly of their experience and what they were learning.”
The Oneida-Herkimer-Madison BOCES Career and Technical Education center helps high school juniors and seniors prepare for careers by focusing their studies on specialized classes. From auto body repair to welding, CTE helps students to excel in the classroom all while gaining the skills needed for the next step in life. Over the past three years, nearly 96% of graduates have reported successful outcomes including gainful employment in their program field or post-secondary studies at a variety of technical schools, colleges, and universities.