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Student Emmalee French learned about the P-Tech program, participated in it and she now got a job offer from Novelis, where she is an electrical technician. Starting salary for the position is $32 an hour.

From Student to Employee

P-Tech program allows students to enter the workforce well-trained

By Steve Yablonski

P-Tech (Pathways in Technology Early College High School) is an economic initiative that not only benefits students but area businesses as well. 

There are currently about 38 P-Tech programs around the state. The Oswego County P- Tech program was launched in 2016.

It is already paying dividends as the first group of graduates is already entering the workforce.

Case in point is Emmalee French, a new employee at Novelis.

“I got involved with P-Tech by watching two different presentations at SUNY Oswego on a tour and another at my middle school in eighth grade,” she said. “After hearing about it, I got more information about it from my counselor.”

She then filled out an application online, got two letters of recommendation from two different teachers and waited to see if she got offered an interview.

“Luckily, I did. I went through the normal interview process and waited to hear back to see if I got in; and, here I am now,” she said.

She is an electrical technician, working in the hot mill. Starting salary for this type of role is about $32 per hour.

A challenging program

Yes, the classes are difficult, she said.

“You will certainly struggle through the program. But there are a lot of people who are more than willing to help you get through the tough times,” she said. “I liked the fact that they incorporated outside students into the college classes. It makes you venture out and talk to new people going through the same classes, but with different experiences. It can help you see things from a different point of view.”

One thing she didn’t particularly care for was how they didn’t incorporate as many people from different programs in with the students.

“There were a lot of familiar places, but it only got us so far. So, when there were other people outside from the P-Tech classes mixed in, I felt like I got a lot more from the class,” she explained.

She said she picked electrical because she liked math.

“When job shadowing the electricians, it was still a lot of hands-on activity, which I thought I was going to lose because I didn’t pick mechanical,” she said. “I am very glad I picked electrical, it definitely keeps me busy.”

Interested in Novelis

She said she had always been interested in working for Novelis ever since she learned about the program.

“So, when they asked me to have an internship, I obviously took it! Then, after going through the internship, I knew that I wanted to work with them full time and lucky for me, they offered me a full-time position in the place I interned in,” she said.

Lindi Murray is the Novelis human resources business partner. She is the P-Tech leader at Novelis and also serves as a mentor for students.

“None of what we do in manufacturing, especially at Novelis, would be possible without our people. The innovative technologies, complex machine centers… those are all designed, maintained and run by people,” she said. “Programs like P-Tech help us actively participate in the development of future STEM and manufacturing professionals.”

Workforce development is a key priority

“We need highly skilled individuals. Whether it’s electricians, engineers, technical craftsman… there are many opportunities for high-paying and rewarding careers and programs like P-Tech are so critical for our industry because they help build a strong pipeline of STEM and manufacturing professionals to fill those roles,” Murray said.

“We are grateful to our industry partners, community leaders and educational partners for ongoing support of P-Tech,” she added. “This program is a great example of what thoughtful and purposeful collaboration can achieve.”

What she expected

“Yes, it is pretty much what I expected it to be since I was working with these guys for almost a year as an intern before coming in full time,” French said. “There is a lot for me to learn in this field and I am really excited for all of the things that are going to come out of this for me in the future.”

“There is room for advancement, whether it’s just for how much you are getting paid based on your experience level or even moving positions completely,” she said. “It really depends on what you are looking for.”