Picente: Construction Skills Training Program A Recovery Act Success Story


Oneida County Executive Anthony J. Picente Jr. today hailed the completion of the region’s first Recovery Act-funded youth training program for its outstanding success in beginning the creation of an Internet Café at the Veterans Outreach Center in the former YMCA on Washington Street in Downtown Utica. 


“A few weeks ago, the space that is now ready to be turned into an Internet Café was filled with dust and debris,” Picente said. “Through the work of our young people, under the direction of MVCC staff and with the support of the Workforce Development Institute, we now have an inviting area ready to go to the next level and become an Internet Café that can serve Veterans and others in need.”

Picente said the program helped the young adults who participated not only learn construction skills, but contribute to the community. “We all get a feeling of satisfaction when we accomplish something positive,” Picente said. “As Vincent Scalise and his partners work to transform this building for the future, the young adults who have helped take this very important first step have – in a few short weeks – made a huge difference.”
Mohawk Valley Community College President Randall Van Wagoner said: “This training program has blended academic and work site activities to help these young adults emerge from the program not only with the construction skills they learned, but a new-found sense of confidence in their abilities, a stronger academic foundation to tackle their future, and work experience that will show employers they can be an integral part of a successful work team.”
Van Wagoner thanked the Workforce Development Institute for its support of the project by buying construction materials used in the effort. “This project is a partnership at every stage. The support this project received from the Workforce Development Institute shows the spirit of collaboration that is so much a part of our region. This project is not only an investment in a facility that can serve veterans, but in young adults who can be vital parts of our emerging workforce.”
Workforce Investment Board Executive Director Alice J. Savino said that the project was so successful, the WIB will use its blend of academics and work experience in future projects. “MVCC and its staff worked hard to develop the right mix of classroom training and hands-on experience. As we go forward to implement our YouthBuild program later this year and to develop other projects for young adults, we will use this model as a template for future programs.”
Oneida County Workforce Development Director David Mathis said that the result of the project meets the goals of the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act. “The key word in the Recovery Act is ‘transformation.’ What we have seen here is that this part of the building is transformed, which shows what can be done with the entire structure. We have also helped young adults transform their lives. Some of these young people would be unemployed without this program. Because of the funding we were able to receive through Congressman Arcuri, Senator Schumer and all of those who supported a strong job training element in the Recovery Act, we have been able to invest in these young adults and give them a new start on the future.”
The ten-week construction skills training course taught basic construction skills with an emphasis on basic math and reading skills that will allow trainees to be accurate in measurements, read blueprints, etc. Young adults were paid $7.25 an hour for 16 to 20 hours per week. Students spilt their time between academic and construction skills activities.