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ROC With Your Hands event provides teens with hands-on job experience

Travis Fisher and a colleague from Bausch & Lomb speak with students at a recent ROC With Your Hands Event sponsored by the Rochester Technology and Manufacturing Association. (Photo by Andrea Deckert)

Travis Fisher knows that middle- and high-schoolers may not always know about local career opportunities available to them after their schooling is completed. So, he’s taking those opportunities to the source, most recently serving as an exhibitor at Roc With Your Hands.

“We try to expose students to what opportunities are out there,” he said.

Fisher, a manager of engineering products at Bausch + Lomb, was there to highlight the company’s electro-mechanical apprenticeship program. 

Students got a chance to try out some of the technology available at ROC With Your Hands. (Photo by Andrea Deckert)

The program includes 2,000 hours of hands-on training and 144 hours of classroom education. At the end of the program, the employee is given a pay grade performance and a promotion based on performance.

Alerting students to such job opportunities was the goal of the first ever ROC With Your Hands Career Exploration event last week at the Rochester Community Sports Complex.

The Rochester Technology and Manufacturing Association held the event in partnership with the city of Rochester, Monroe County, the Finger Lakes Youth Apprenticeship Program, Monroe Community College, RochesterWorks!, UNiCON Rochester and the Builders Exchange of Rochester.

It featured dozens of employers who highlighted various careers, offered hands-on demonstrations and provided information on their respective fields.

Hundreds of students in grades seven through 12 across Monroe County and the city of Rochester were exposed to careers in advanced manufacturing, skilled trades, automotive technology and heavy equipment. Students, teachers and chaperones were also provided free merchandise and lunch was also provided at no charge.

Kim Hartford, human resources manager for Avon-based DP Tool & Machine Inc., was attending the event to also raise awareness of local job opportunities, including ones at the machine shop.

Students ask questions of exhibitors at the ROC With Your Hands event.
Students ask questions of exhibitors at the ROC With Your Hands event. (Photo by Andrea Deckert)

DP Tool, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary, makes CNC-machined components for a variety of industries, including automotive and medical. The business has nearly 110 workers and has several job openings, including entry level machinists.

Hartford, who attends career days at area schools and hosts tours at the facility, said the company can provide good paying jobs to those who are coming out of high school. 

“We want to get the message out that even if you don’t go to college, you can still have a lucrative career,” she said.

The RTMA developed ROC With Your Hands through discussions with area businesses, local educators and community partners alongside the Finger Lakes Youth Apprenticeship Program.

Organizers said the career exploration event will be offered every year to schools throughout the city of Rochester and Monroe County.

Bob Coyne addresses attendees at the ROC With Your Hands event. (Photo by Andrea Deckert)

“ROC With Your Hands is a fun way to introduce our community’s students to careers that involve working with your hands,” said Bob Coyne, RTMA executive director.

He noted that careers in advanced manufacturing, skilled trades, automotive technology and heavy equipment mostly require paid on-the-job training and non-traditional educational opportunities while providing a positive pathway to success and economic independence.

“ROC With Your Hands allows students, teachers and chaperones to learn more about these high-demand fields,” Coyne said, adding that the youth are a critical component of moving the region forward. “If we don’t involve the kids, our community will never get better.”  

Collaborations were key in getting the inaugural event off the ground, he noted.

The City of Rochester hosted ROC With Your Hands through its Department of Recreation and Human Services at the Rochester Community Sports Complex.

Monroe Community College — which partners with the RTMA annually on the Finger Lakes Youth Apprenticeship Program — also supported ROC With Your Hands.

As did the Builders Exchange of Rochester and UNiCON Rochester, who host similar career exploration events which are supported by the RTMA.

Monroe County was another partner.

Ana Liss, Monroe County’s director of planning and development, spoke of the importance of events like Roc with Your Hands.

“For the community to grow we need to ensure that the talent pipeline is full and prepared for the jobs of the future,” she said. “Exposing youth to career paths early on can be very powerful.”

[email protected] / (585) 653-4021 

RochesterWorks initiative aims to reduce gun violence through workforce development

RochesterWorks! has launched a $2.25 million gun violence prevention initiative that is designed to provide job opportunities for hundreds of Rochester young adults.

The region’s largest nonprofit provider of workforce and career services is looking for community organizations to help implement the program. The initiative is funded by the state Department of Labor and is part of a multi-phased state strategy to use workforce development programs to reduce gun violence.

“Providing pathways to job opportunities is one of the best resources we have in the fight against the recent uptick in gun violence. We are grateful for this opportunity provided by the state to make a difference through effective workforce development strategies,” said RochesterWorks Executive Director Dave Seeley in a statement. “This program will only be successful if we are able to garner widespread community support to engage our youth and provide the support services necessary to keep them in these effective workforce programs, with the end goal being a permanent job. We are excited to solicit the support of the many good forces trying to bring about positive change in Rochester.”

The Gun Violence Prevention (GVP) program will serve unemployed, underemployed and out-of-school youths aged 18 to 24. Three-quarters of the participants will reside in one of nine priority Zip codes identified by the Department of Labor.

“I am proud to advocate for these resources at the state level which will support our young people early in their career journeys. RochesterWorks! is focused on creating employment resources for young people at a time when our community needs it most,” said state Sen. Jeremy Cooney, a Rochester native and representative for the state’s 56th District. “It is my hope that organizations throughout Rochester will seek these funds and do the work on behalf of the youth of our city. As we recover from the pandemic, access to training and educational opportunities is essential so that the future leaders of Rochester have the skills needed to compete in new industries and help our region grow.”

Current Youth Navigator programs implementing youth employment services on behalf of RochesterWorks under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) will be provided resources to enhance their outreach and services. The GVP program also will invite nonprofit community- or faith-based organizations and units of local government to apply to provide outreach and recruitment services, workforce preparation services or both. An informational session will be held for potential partners on Oct. 7th at the Gantt Community Center. Interested organizations can register at

“It’s critical that we help connect at-risk youth with employment opportunities so we can steer them toward a life of prosperity and positive choices,” said Monroe County Executive Adam Bello. “I am grateful to Dave Seeley and his team at RochesterWorks! for implementing this initiative and give special thanks to New York state for funding this vital program.”

[email protected] / 585-653-4021
Follow Velvet Spicer on Twitter: @Velvet_Spicer

Former Irondequoit supervisor to lead RochesterWorks!

RochesterWorks! has selected Dave Seeley, former town supervisor for Irondequoit, as its new executive director. He succeeds the late Peter Pecor, who led the organization for more than a decade.

Following Pecor’s death, the Monroe County/Rochester Workforce Development Board and Monroe County leaders appointed a diverse, seven-member selection committee to begin the search for a new executive director. The committee reviewed 50 candidate applications before choosing Seeley, who has spent his entire career in public service.

“Dave has the skills and experience to carry RochesterWorks! into the future,” said Workforce Development Board Chairman Sergio Esteban.

As supervisor of Irondequoit, Seeley oversaw the largest sustained investment in the community in its modern history, officials noted. Previously he spent extensive time in state government, in both the governor’s office and the state Assembly.

Dave Seeley
Dave Seeley

“I am honored to have been appointed to serve as the next executive director of RochesterWorks!, mindful of the high bar that has been set by my predecessor, the late Peter Pecor,” Seeley said. “As we emerge from the pandemic, our economy and labor workforce face unprecedented challenges, but also immense opportunity. I look forward to working with all stakeholders in our local economy to ensure that we are providing economic opportunity and mobility to every member of our community.”

When Seeley assumes the role this summer, he will work closely with staff and the Monroe County/Rochester Workforce Development Board to ensure the organization can continue to adapt to serve job seekers, youth and businesses through the ongoing pandemic and beyond. One of Seeley’s first acts as director will be to oversee the reopening of RochesterWorks! three Career Center locations to in-person appointments and services, including recruitment events, workshops and other workforce development programming.

RochesterWorks! is Monroe County’s largest employment and training initiative.

[email protected] / 585-653-4021
Follow Velvet Spicer on Twitter: @Velvet_Spicer