Erickson Taberas is an Amsterdam High School student working on high-tech electromagnetic systems and advanced robotics.

"I’m learning pneumatics and hydraulics as well," Taberas noted.

He’s not even out of high school, but he's already getting job offers at local high-tech companies, thanks to a specialized training program he’s getting through BOCES.

"Being a part of this program, I got an internship in Halfmoon at Create-a-core, and while I was in the internships, they offered me a job there," Taberas said. "I’m thinking about going to work for that company and then try to do college in the nighttime."

New York state invested $175 million in building and retaining a younger high-tech workforce. Several technology companies, like Global Foundries, work with local schools to get teenagers and young adults in their doors now. They train them, pay them well, offer tuition reimbursement, but most importantly groom them to stay.   

"What’s really important for the community to now is that we can hire at all levels," said Jennifer Pickering with Global Foundries. "You can come here straight out of high school, and with this ongoing training, and you can have a long run at a career."

The Business Council of New York connects local high schools and colleges to a number of local high-tech companies, realizing the need for more skilled labor.

But Amber Mooney with the Business Council puts it bluntly: "We need more. There isn’t enough. We need more people in these programs."

Mooney says the message to teens is that you don’t need a college degree, that you can get hired now and incentives and support will be provided.

"There are pathways, so you can start at the entry-level position and then get some kind of tech training, and then there are opportunities for growth in these companies," Mooney said. "They want to add skills to you as you progress through your career."

Erickson feels grateful to have entered the program.

"It feels great," he said. "Not a lot of kids are put on a path and then have that path fall into place. I just feel lucky to have a great teacher."