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Burgard High looks to ready parents for advanced manufacturing jobs

Burgard High School is trying to make a name for itself as a training hub that prepares students for careers in advanced manufacturing.

Now, the high school is opening its doors to train their parents, relatives and neighbors, too.

The adult education division of  the Buffalo Public Schools is offering an exploratory program that introduces adults to careers in machine tool operations and welding. The program will run for three hours, twice a week for seven weeks.

It’s also free.

“You’ll travel through that at break-neck speed but you’ll learn a lot about the trade industry,” said John Suchy, vocational program coordinator for the adult education program. “And at the outcome, you’ll know if you want to use that as your stepping stone to go onto further education or possibly entry-level employment in these trade areas.”

Information sessions will be held from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Jan. 9 and Jan. 16 in the high school at 400 Kensington Ave., with the classes to start shortly thereafter.

The goal is to connect those who go through the introductory program at Burgard to the nearby Northland Workforce Training Center on Northland Avenue for further training.

The Northland corridor is being transformed into a new advanced-manufacturing business hub as part of the Buffalo Billion project to bring more jobs and investment to long-impoverished neighborhoods of the city.

“At the end of the program, you’ll basically have a clear pathway to Northland to get you enrolled in their program,” Suchy explained. “It’s an excellent opportunity.”

As a result of Burgard High School's partnership with Alfred State College, the high school boasts newly renovated auto shops, machine tool shops and a brand-new welding shop. Dymon King cuts a piece of steel in the new welding shop. (Sharon Cantillon/Buffalo News)

There are 24 openings for the spring semester, but Suchy said a commitment already has been made for additional sessions to accommodate demand.

The program at the high school is in collaboration with Alfred State College, which has had a partnership with Burgard since 2014 to help bridge the labor gaps in the region’s workforce.

In fact, earlier this year, Burgard unveiled its new welding lab and updates to its machine tool and automotive shops, thanks to a portion of the $3.2 million, multiyear training grant awarded to Alfred and Burgard as part of the Buffalo Billion initiative.

Reaching out to parents and the wider community adds another dimension to the training, with adults getting the opportunity for some of the same hands-on learning about advanced manufacturing in the new shops at Burgard to see if they want to take the next step by enrolling at the Northland training center.

“It’s very important that our community gets involved and take advantage of these opportunities in order to move to the next level,” said School Board Member Sharon Belton-Cottman, whose Ferry District includes Burgard. “It can only lift them up economically and it can only improve their quality of life by taking advantage of these programs.”

“We have a lot of parents underemployed, so if they learn a new skill they have a better income for their household,” said Charlene Watson, principal at Burgard.

Buffalo Manufacturing Works to begin $33.5 million build-out at Northland

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