CHEEKTOWAGA, N.Y. (WKBW) — From using tools to understanding blueprints, Chris Burgio teaches high school students everything they need to know about trades at the Erie 1 BOCES Harkness Career and Technical Education Center in Cheektowaga.
"I’ve been here almost 20 years now and as time goes by, I see the need for women," said Burgio.
He’s only taught about 20 women in his 20 years of teaching. They have about 30-40 students per class and you won’t see many girls.
"Right now I have one. I was averaging about one every other year," said Garth Merlino, Electrical Instructor.
Both instructors say the women they have had, do a tremendous job.
"I think they’re more prone to detail and taking their time, where the guys like to pound things together," said Burgio.
This need for women in the trades is statewide. The North Atlantic States Regional Council of Carpenters (NASRCC) is working to change things.
They run a pre-apprenticeship program throughout the state.
"We’ve been running this since 2015 and we’ve brought in more than 100 women into the program," said Melissa Clark, Marketing Manager of the North Atlantic States Carpenters Labor Management Program.
It’s a four week program in July that acts as a trial period to see if carpentry is for you and it’s completely free.
"Once they successfully complete the four week program they have an opportunity to enter into the five level apprenticeship program," said Clark.
This program is for women 18 and older. Students at the Erie 1 BOCES program are Juniors and Seniors.
"We’re heavy on math, other than that it’s just a willingness to learn and use the tools," said Merlino.
And what’s really cool is students have the opportunity to build a home, from the ground up. Giving them all the skills they need to go straight into workforce right out of high school.
THIS MORNING:— Taylor Epps (@taylor_epps_) March 31, 2021
We're at the end of #WomensHistoryMonth, so today, we're getting out the tool belt.
Trades have always been male dominated, but there's a local and statewide effort to change that. @WKBW @NASRCC_UBC @Erie1BOCES pic.twitter.com/uM41QtUDFK
"If you’re a lady in the field, I tell them all that they can write their own ticket as long as they’re motivated and they want to pursue this as a career," said Merlino.
Opportunities are endless, according to Burgio, who says contractor reach out looking for young people to enter the trades. Clark says the apprenticeship includes great benefits for young women looking for jobs.
When asked why there aren’t more women involved in trades, program leaders said most women are not aware that these opportunities are out there.
To sign up for an information session on the NASRCC's pre-apprenticeship program, click here.
They have information for those in:
- Long Island
- Rock Tavern
For more information about the Building Trades program at Erie 1 BOCES, click here.