We Have Plenty Of Good Programs Around Here: Let’s Use Them

We’re encouraged to see local efforts to host a “Signing Day” for high school seniors who accept jobs in their chosen fields to begin after graduation.

The signing ceremony is based on what is often done for a top-tier high school athlete when he or she commit to attend a college and play sports there, usually in exchange for a scholarship.

Sports are wonderful, but fleeting. In almost every case, the careers these vocational school students have trained for will long outlast athletic careers, and will usually do more service for other people.

Once everyone is past their 20s, the auto mechanic, hairdresser, nursing assistant and construction worker should be able to hold their heads high next to the star athletes they once went to school with.

Again, this is not a knock on sports. They give inspiration to millions and are still worthy of praise — but they get that praise. The skills and achievements students get from BOCES are also hard earned, but rarely recognized. It’s good to see them get some time to shine, too.

The events at Jamestown Community College and Erie 2-Chautauqua-Cattaraugus BOCES, with BOCES signing up four students to work at Cummins Inc.’s Jamestown Engine Plant, also showcased local companies hiring local graduates. It’s great to see a community building and maintaining pipelines by which children can grow up and be trained for important local jobs that pay living wages and can often lead to much more. It would be great to see more of that kind of career pipelining here in Chautauqua County. People are retiring here, but we would do well to recruit and retain more young people.

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: In general, our society needs to focus more to vocation schools and community colleges. Four-year colleges are, of course, still important, but the “college for every student” idea has warped our outlook and led many of our young people to think BOCES and community college are lower forms of education. The unemployed college grad swimming in tuition debt probably knows better, as does the 30-something owning his or her own business or managing a team of professionals.

“I really find that the quality of the students coming out of the BOCES CTE programs aligns with what we’re looking for,” said Lori Jafarjian, Cummins human resources manager.

We’ve got good programs here. We need to use them.