ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — The Rochester Technology and Manufacturing Association hosted a first-of-its-kind, large career development event on Tuesday.

ROC With Your Hands was created to introduce students to hands-on careers in advanced manufacturing, skilled trades, heavy equipment and automotive technology.

Bob Coyne, the Executive Director of RTMA and Founder of ROC With Your Hands, said while the event is brand new, the idea for it began many years ago.

“The Rochester Technology and Manufacturing Association, about five years ago, started what’s called a group sponsor for the New York state registered apprenticeship programs. And what this does is it allows employers to participate in the New York state registered apprenticeship program, without a lot of effort from the employers themselves,” Coyne said.

“When we were out recruiting employers and employees to enter the registered apprenticeship programs, we were getting feedback from the employers that they were very concerned where the next generation of apprentices or skilled workers were going to come from. They felt that the schools had kind of steered away from all of the different classroom activities or shop classes, as you might call them, where people were able to work with their hands.”

In response, RTMA created the Finger Lakes Youth Apprenticeship program three years ago, which focuses specifically on 11th and 12th-grade students.

“We are still getting feedback from the employers to say, ‘We still feel that we need to get to these students at a younger age, because often by the time they’re in 11th or 12th grade, they’ve already made decisions on whether they’re going to go to college or pursue other careers,'” Coyne said.

Coyne said the Batavia region had a program called ‘Glow With Your Hands’ and the Finger Lakes had a ‘Work With Your Hands’ program. However, Coyne said Monroe County didn’t have anything like these programs.

“In February of 2022, we created the ROC with Your Hands event so that we could start to reach 7th, 8th, and 9th graders and offer the exploration of what all these great careers offer,” Coyne said. “Oftentimes, specifically in the Rochester City schools, they don’t even know about these great careers until they leave high school.”

At Tuesday’s ROC With Your Hands event, there were multiple training programs highlighted, including Edison Tech, BOCES, Monroe Community College and the Contenental School of Beauty.

“There were several union representatives there that offer apprenticeship programs within their training in a union environment,” Coyne said. “The Finger Lakes Youth Apprenticeship program had their table there as well so we could offer these kids the opportunities to see what training opportunities there are in their future.”

If you missed Tuesday’s event, you can still get involved. To learn more about ROC With Your Hands, you can call RTMA at 585-510-6557.

You can also visit their website by clicking here.