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New program designed to get youths involved in area

December 21, 2008
By KERRY McAVOY, The Leader-Herald

JOHNSTOWN - Plans are under way to bring more interest to a program designed to make life more employable for area youths.

The Hamilton Fulton Montgomery Business and Education Alliance gives students the chance to get internships and a chance to work with local businesses.

The program brings together local schools, chambers of commerce, Hamilton Fulton Montgomery Board of Cooperative Education Services and Fulton-Montgomery Community College to give students the appropriate training they need for careers they wish to pursue.

"I hear people say I can't find the employees I need," FMCC President Dustin Swanger said.

The alliance also allows businesses to let educators know what they are looking for in an employee. Students that enter the program can experience and learn first hand what they need in their career field and could even walk away with a job at the end.

Swanger unveiled a new campaign for the HFM Business Education Alliance during Thursday night's FMCC board meeting.

The new campaign will feature billboards, brouchers, high school posters and even billboards will be handed out, posted around schools and spread through the area to let students and there parents know this program is available.

The ads unveiled during the meeting show a singular image of man or a woman with a job description such as registered nurse, welder or auto mechanic with where they went to school: BOCES, FMCC or other region colleges. Above the photo reads I am a part of this community.

Swanger said the idea of the ads are to show that kids can get an education and stay in this area despite thinking to the contrary.

"I think this message is exactly the the kind of message we want to send," Swanger said.

The new campaigned, created by consultants Shannon Rose, was unveiled to businesses on Nov. 6 during a breakfast meeting where Swanger said it met with great success. It is being sent out to the school districts to take a look at next month.

Swanger said the HFM Business Education Alliance also hopes to increase the tri-county area graduation rate. He said the area currently has a rate of between 65 and 75 percent graduation rate, which is higher than the state average.

He would like to see that rate closer to 90 percent.

"Thirty percent of our students not graduating is not acceptable," Swanger said.

Student enrollment in for the college is up according to Vice President of Student Affairs Jane Kelley.

Enrollment for winter classes is its highest in three years with a 31 percent jump in students. About 126 are expected to take a class this winter at the college. Numbers are also up for spring also increased by 4.7 percent.

Kelley said the college is also starting advisement for summer courses earlier this year to try and get more students involved.

"Last summer we had a poorly enrolled summer and it hurt the college," Kelley said.

The college is also hoping to get more students from other colleges to take some summer courses at FMCC this year.

Kerry McAvoy covers Montgomery County. She can be reached at



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