Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

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