Hectic schedules, studying, course work and added commutes have paid off time and again for CSEA members looking to get ahead through the NYS & CSEA Partnership on Education and Training.

At SUNY Downstate, four CSEA members recently completed an intensive electrical course run by the Partnership, while several members in the Pallisades Parks Local are benefitting from new skills and promotional opportunities.

“I was so proud of them,” said SUNY Downstate Local President Althea Green. “It’s like seeing your children blossom.”

It even inspired Green to research an appropriate gift to mark the occasion; she gave them non-conductive screwdrivers.

The NYS & CSEA Partnership for Education and Training, a long-time negotiated labor management program, helps ensure the availability of trained workers while offering workers a chance to move up by learning new skills.
The SUNY Downstate members, Stephen Isaac, Rohan Thomas, Kennedy Rogers and Elizabeth Rolston, often traveled two or more hours every Tuesday to Long Island to take the course, graduating from the program in May.
“You get into the theory, understand the math and get hands-on training,” said Thomas, an attendant. “It’s not just running wires. There are a lot of aspects I didn’t know.”

Participants also volunteered on several projects, including one for Habitat for Humanity.
“It was so unique and interactive,” said Isaac, a maintenance assistant.
“It felt great knowing that someone was going to benefit from your services.”
Program graduates must now intern for 400 hours to complete their certification.
“It’s personal for me,” said Rogers, a carpenter. “I like to be grounded in everything.” In fact, Rogers already has a certificate in plumbing and his first trade was masonry.

Housekeeper Elizabeth Rolston was the only woman in the class and also the most seasoned in participating in Partnership courses, completing 24 courses. “I don’t want to stay stuck in one position,” she said. “I want to go far.”

Parks workers get ahead
Palisades Parks Local member Shawn Helbig had plumbing experience before taking a job at Rockland Lake State Park, but it was a nudge from his CSEA local president that is now yielding career dividends.
Local President Danny Corigiliano encouraged Helbig to consider the Applied Skills Trades Program in plumbing and steamfitting, which Helbig pursued and completed this spring. A seasonal parks worker when he began the course, Helbig has since used his strengthened plumbing skills to win a promotion to general mechanic/supervisor at Rockland Lake.

“This was an excellent course. I was plumbing for about 13 years before coming to the state. Even though I knew a lot about plumbing already, I learned so much more. The experience I gained through the program gave me an edge when I applied for a promotion. I encourage other state CSEA members to take advantage of what is offered through the Partnership. It will definitely improve your skills on the job and is especially helpful if you are trying to get a promotion or get into a permanent title,” Helbig said.

Paul Leahy, a Park Worker 9 at Bear Mountain State Park, worked for Parks for the past 10 years and sees his completion of the Applied Skills Trades Program in carpentry as a stepping stone for career growth.
“The skills I have learned help me in my current job, with special projects. I’m hoping this will allow me to eventually go into a carpentry job in Parks. The courses were hands-on, with them really showing us how to do things instead of just reading out of a textbook. My union leaders told me about the program and I was glad I was able to take advantage.”

— David Galarza and Jessica Ladlee

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