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Greece Chamber panel discusses regulations, educating young workers

Greece Chamber panel discusses regulations, educating young workers

Human resources regulations can be a pain in the neck and costly, agreed educators, business people and legislators participating in a wide-ranging panel discussion at the Greece Regional Chamber of Commerce Thursday.

Even those regulations with the best of intentions can be difficult to enact. Casey Kosiorek, superintendent of the Hilton Central School District, noted the requirement that all teachers and staff obtain training in cardio-pulmonary resuscitation and the use of a cardiac defibrillator.

“Who can argue with that if you’re going to save someone’s life?” he asked. But fitting in and paying for the training still isn’t easy.

Heidi R. Macpherson, president of the State University College at Brockport, reminded the audience of about 60 that there’s a reason for those regulations. She said Brockport hired a full-time Title IX compliance officer who has created a better experience for female students than previous generations had, transformed college culture on sexual harassment and dating violence, and educated male students about what obtaining consent should look like in a sexual situation. All of that was due to regulations.

“They have improved our culture,” Macpherson said.

Understanding those regulations can be complex, though, added Jeffery Tredo, director of Rochester Colleges, Bryant & Stratton. He said New York’s “Enough is enough” sexual abuse regulations are in direct conflict with some federal rules.

New York regulations are like “water torture,” said David Perotto, vice president of Bartolomeo & Perotto Funeral Home. “I threw up my hands last year and hired Paychex.” The HR and payroll company does a great job, Perotto said, but the service comes at a cost.

Another topic many agreed on was that youngsters frequently are not prepared for work.

“We know from our business partners that the kids are unprepared,” said Kathleen Graupman, superintendent of Greece Central School District. She said schools have to be intentional about the partnerships they provide, including real work experience, to help students learn about work. But they must also teach students how to learn before they teach them to work.

More students, including in the Greece district, are growing up in poverty or without two parents working, she said, so students haven’t necessarily witnessed what it means to go to work every day.

Graupman said she grew up in Greece and her father, like many in Greece at that time, was a lifelong Kodak worker. “The challenge is that’s not our community anymore,” she said.

Perotto said it would be good for students in high school to apprentice in a line of work before choosing their higher education path. That might head off a situation he faced recently: A young woman finished two years of schooling for working in a funeral home before beginning her one-year residency at Bartolomeo & Perotto. He felt she brought a lot of talent to the job. But two weeks later, she quit, saying she didn’t want the night work and long hours.

Greece Superintendent Bill Reilich said, “The most basic elements (of work) have to be stressed early on.” In town government, he’s required to hire from the top three scorers on civil service exams. But that doesn’t mean he’ll get a worker who will show up on time, he said.

Deborah Whitt, owner of the Deborah Ham Whitt Agency, said she’s had to tell high schoolers working for her to remove inappropriate nail polish or to change into business attire. But the students can become loyal and hard-working employees.

“As business owners, we have that opportunity to help our young people learn good work habits,” Whitt said.

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