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Brindisi continues push for new high school diploma

In an attempt to increase the number of New York high school graduates who are work ready, one state assemblyman is pushing for the approval of a new high-tech and manufacturing-based diploma. The goal is to help employers fill jobs with qualified graduates.

Although the state legislature won't return to Albany until January, Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi is getting an early start by promoting his bill to create a Career and Technical Education, or CTE, diploma.

Brindisi says the CTE coursework would offer students the opportunity to earn certifications that can help them enter high-paying jobs straight out of high school.

"They will have a diploma with the same standing as a Regents diploma, but they will also have an industry recognized certification in whatever CTE coursework they went through," Brindisi explained. "So if it's in IT, they could graduate high school with an industry recognized certification in IT, which many of these employers are looking for."

He adds that the certifications could make those students more valuable to employers.

"I think the biggest sectors that a CTE pathway will help students go into are the emerging industries in New York state, such as nanotechnology," Brindisi said. "Traditional manufacturing, such as machining and welding. Industries such as the trades, electrical, plumbing."

Brindisi says employers are having a difficult time hiring people because they can't find enough skilled labor to meet job demands, but he believes the diploma would help fix the issue.

"What we've seen through studies, that over the next five to ten years, almost half of the job openings in New York will be under that career and technical education umbrella," Brindisi said. "So we want to make sure we're doing all we can now to encourage students into these pathways."

The programs will run through BOCES and will not cost school districts extra money. But the assemblyman says there could be an increase on the state's side to support more BOCES funding.

State Assembly Education Committee members met in Utica earlier this week to hear testimony from educators, parents and potential employers who support the program. The legislation is sponsored in the Senate by Dave Valesky of Oneida. Brindisi says he hopes to have the diploma in place by the start of the 2015 school year.