May 31 2019

Capital Region High School Grad Employment Highest in More than 17 years


May 31, 2019

400 students to graduate from Capital Region BOCES on June 4, many have jobs lined up

***Soon-to-be-employed graduates available for interview***

ALBANY, NEW YORK – As the Capital Region’s high school seniors prepare for graduation, those planning to directly enter the labor force will find a private sector more receptive to them than any other in more than a generation. In fact, in 2017, private sector employment among workers with up to a high school diploma (or equivalent) in the eight-county region climbed to its highest level in more than 17 years. Additionally, over the last five years the region has added the second greatest number of jobs for workers with a high school diploma out of the eight economic development regions in upstate New York, according to a Center for Economic Growth (CEG) analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data1.

On Tuesday, 400 students from Capital Region BOCES’ Career and Technical Schools will participate in a graduation and awards ceremony at Proctors in Schenectady at 7 p.m.

“Our graduates choose the path less taken, the harder path,” said Joseph P. Dragone, Ph.D., senior executive officer of Capital Region BOCES. “They accomplish everything needed to graduate high school while also taking on the challenge of learning skills necessary to launch a career. They prove a national proficiency in those skills so they are ready to not only go to work, but to be successful and help the regional economy grow and flourish.”

Dozens of students are walking into full-time employment with a highly technical skill set and lucrative pay. Take, for example, senior Chris Zautner who found his calling through Capital Region BOCES’ machining and manufacturing program along with a paid internship at Ren Tools & Manufacturing. 

“Not only am I learning and making money, I’m saving money,” said Zautner. “I’ll graduate with options and a job. What more could you ask for?”

Employment Growth

In 2017, the Capital Region had 88,787 workers with up to a high school diploma employed in the private sector. That meant one in four employed workers in the region (24.6 percent) had this level of educational attainment. At 32.9 percent, Washington County had the region’s highest concentration of private sector employed workers with up to a high school diploma, followed by Warren County at 28.8 percent and Columbia County at 27.1 percent.

“From manufacturers to hospitals, there is an overwhelming need for talent with the right technical skills, and programs such as those offered by Capital Region BOCES are making sure our high schools students have what employers want by the time the graduate. Our region’s economy would not be on the growth trajectory it is on had it not been for so many highly skilled workers emerging from our high schools,” said CEG President and CEO Andrew Kennedy. 

Popular Sectors for High School Grads

The sectors employing the most workers with up to a high school diploma are health care and social assistance (15,913) retail trade (12,914), educational services (10,625) and manufacturing (9,526). Sectors that have created large numbers of jobs for workers with up to a high school diploma – and in fields in which Capital Region BOCES provides training – include accommodation and food services (+591), construction (+538), health care and social assistance (+430) and manufacturing (+310).

Senior Emily Elsis found her calling in the seat of a bulldozer thanks to Capital Region BOCES. She will turn an internship into full-time employment with Lancaster Development as well as an apprenticeship with the Empire State Highway Contractors Association following graduation.  

“I really like it because I am working on the equipment and learning how everything comes together.”

A work-based learning opportunity turned into a part-time gig, and soon a full-time job with career growth for senior Jared Strokes at Package One Industries. The Capital Region BOCES welding student and recipient of the Evan M. Schwarz Helping Hand Memorial Scholarship helps the local manufacturer cycle parts for use in Navy submarines and in the oil, gas and aerospace industries.

“I never imagined getting a job through here,” said Strokes. “It’s great. They are flexible with me and there is always something to do.”

Regional Support for High School Grads

CEG and its partners are working to help Capital Region high school graduates enter and climb within sectors, such as manufacturing, that offer good-paying and stable jobs. Local initiatives include:

Capital Region BOCES: A regionwide provider of cooperative educational services that equip high school students and adult learners with the technical skills needed for careers in a variety of sectors, including:


Engineering Technician (Center for Advanced Technology at Mohonasen

Manufacturing and Machining Technology (Center for Advanced Technology at Mohonasen)

Welding and Metal Fabrication (Albany Campus and Center for Advanced Technology at Mohonasen)

Health Sciences

New Visions: Health Careers – Ellis & St. Peter’s Hospitals (Off Campus)

Sterile Processing Technician (Center for Advanced Technology at Mohonasen) 

Two-Year Sequence of Health Careers (Albany and Schoharie Campuses)

Manufacturing Technology Pathways Project: Hudson Valley Community College’s new short-term, stackable credential training program, or “boot camp,” supported by part of a $250,000 KeyBank Foundation grant administered by CEG;

Certified Production Technician Program: A new eight- to 12-week-long certificate course at Schenectady County Community College, supported by part of a $250,000 KeyBank Foundation grant administered by CEG.

Manufacturing Intermediary Apprenticeship Program (MIAP): A CEG program, in partnership with the Manufacturers Association of Central New York (MACNY), to assist local manufacturers in training incumbent workers for high-skill trades.

Business Growth Solutions (BGS): A National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) center, CEG’s BGS unit can help manufacturers obtain grants for employee training initiatives.


1 Data from Census Bureau QWI Explorer. Full-Quarter Employment (Stable): Counts. Yearly averages.

About CEG

The Center for Economic Growth (CEG) is the Capital Region’s primary regional economic development organization, with over 250 investors in business, government, education, and the not-for-profit sectors. CEG is a New York Empire State Development Division of Science, Technology and Innovation-designated Regional Technology Development Center and an affiliate of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)/Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP).



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