Career & Technical Education Programs Help Fill Talent Pipeline

It’s not uncommon to hear employers express concern about filling open positions. Many employers are inundated with applications from unqualified candidates who lack the necessary credentials and experience—a drain on company time and resources.

That’s where Career & Technical Education (CTE) programs come in. To help fill Buffalo Niagara’s talent pipeline with the right candidates, CTE programs at local high schools provide quality work-based learning programs encompassing academic skills, employability skills, and necessary workforce behavior.

The Employ Buffalo Niagara team had the opportunity to learn about the CTE program at McKinley Vocational High School recently, where Katherine Heinle, Director of Career & Technical Education, and Robert Harris, Career and Technical Education Supervisor, hosted a tour showcasing the unique skillsets that students gain through real-life experiences.

No Ordinary High School

McKinley is no ordinary high school, offering student hands-on experience with learning activities, unique projects, mentoring programs, and internships.

McKinley’s CTE programs offer students the opportunity to get firsthand experience with the help of strategic partners who create the connections for the students in several areas of concentration, including:

  • Aquatic ecology, in positions with organizations like the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, U.S. Fish & Wildlife, and Buffalo State Great Lake Labs
    • Construction, in positions with organizations like Montane Solar, local unions, and the Western New York Construction Exchange
    • Horticulture, in positions with organizations like the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy, Darwin Martin House, Erie County Botanical Gardens, and the Western New York Nurserymen’s Association
    • Printing, in positions with organizations like Flexo Transparent Inc., Tapecon, and the Zenger Group
    • Teaching in positions with organizations like Buffalo State College and the Buffalo Teacher Federation

Once McKinley students select their area of concentration, they’re required to complete notable projects as a test of learning and progression throughout each individual program. For example, horticulture students nurture plants in their greenhouse while developing and executing strategies to advertise their flowers for purchase.

During their senior year, construction students collaborate to build a house for Habitat for Humanity. Each year, a completed house is shipped to its designated location and students visit the home to see the impact of the work they have completed.

CTE programs like those at McKinley equip students with real-world experience, knowledge, and a unique skillset, making these young individuals attractive to employers.

To learn more about the CTE programs offered at McKinley Vocational High School—and see how the programs are connecting students to real-world jobs—click here.

How Employ Buffalo Niagara helps local employers find talent

Employ Buffalo Niagara is a unique, cross-sector coalition of more than 130 members, spearheaded by the Buffalo Niagara Partnership, that effects systems change to lower barriers for the working poor, resulting in a more inclusive economy.

Talent pipeline management is one important area of Employ Buffalo Niagara’s work. A national initiative of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, talent pipeline management shares with employers best practices for communicating hiring requirements and forecasting demand for critical positions. Using guidelines set forth by the Foundation, Employ Buffalo Niagara is advancing talent pipeline management strategies in industries like healthcare, hospitality & tourism, manufacturing, and others.

To learn more about Employ Buffalo Niagara, stay up-to-date on its work, and subscribe to the quarterly newsletter, click here.

Caitlin Sutton Headshot

About Caitlin Sutton

Manager, Workforce Development