NEW HAMPTON — Lauanna Rivers sees the NYS & CSEA Partnership for Education and Training’s Applied Skills Trade Program as a path for female CSEA members to expand their career horizons into traditionally male-dominated fields.
As a supervisor in the kitchen at Mid-Hudson Forensic Psychiatric Center, Rivers has been encouraging her newer colleagues to learn skilled trades and eventually move into higher-paying state jobs. Having recently graduated from the Partnership’s plumber and steamfitter program, Rivers saw firsthand the opportunities for career growth.
“I’ve said to my co-workers, the trades are not just for males, they’re for females, too,” said Rivers, a food service worker 2 and executive vice president of the Mid-Hudson Forensic Psychiatric Center Local. “If you’re interested in a different path, go in there and apply for these programs. Not everyone wants to work in an office. Go broaden your horizons.”
Rivers said the two-year plumber and steamfitter course, was most challenging when students had to pivot to online learning due to COVID. While remote learning works well for many topics, she said courses such as blueprint reading are far easier to learn in person.
Hands-on training was far more enjoyable.
“People at work would ask how the class was going, and I was able to tell them I was down on the floor taking pipes apart in a bathroom and under the cabins at Bear Mountain learning how to do proper tubing and splicing,” said Rivers.
As an avid DIY-er who has tackled many renovations in her own home, Rivers said she often turns to YouTube for help. Having professional training has improved her knowledge. It’s also been applicable at work, since issues with pipes and hot water occasionally pop up in the busy kitchen at the psychiatric center. Having a working understanding of plumbing turns out to be quite useful there.
As the Mid-Hudson Forensic Psychiatric Center Local 1st Vice President and supervisor of workers newer to state service, Rivers said her experience with Partnership training has the potential to empower her co-workers. “It also shows one of the many benefits that comes from being part of our union,” said Rivers.
“It’s not just this particular program,” said Rivers. “I’ve told some of the workers in the kitchen about the Skills for Success programs offered through the Partnership and they’ve signed up. Take advantage of what’s available through our union.”
— Jessica Ladlee