The new Marine Academy scheduled to open at Ticonderoga High School next fall will be a welcome addition to the region’s education system and economy.
Operated by Champlain Valley Educational Services and available to students from Glens Halls to Plattsburgh, the two-year program will prepare students for careers in the marine industry — a business that remains strong locally despite the national recession.
The new venture has the backing of the Eastern New York Marine Trades Association, a group of marine professionals desperate for trained help.
“There just aren’t enough marine technicians to fill all the jobs we have available,” explained Roger Phinney, executive director of the Eastern New York Marine Trades Association. “We have jobs. We want to hire people. We just can’t find them.”
Marina owners and managers from Lake George, Bolton, Whitehall, Loon Lake, Diamond Point, Brant Lake, Schroon Lake, Hague and Ticonderoga attended an open house at the Marine Academy recently. They came away impressed.
Rich Stolen, owner of Schroon Lake Marina and Loon Lake Marina, said every graduate of the Marine Academy will find a job immediately out of high school. “We’ll be fighting for them,” he said.
Bob Palandrani, owner of Snug Harbor Marina in Ticonderoga and a member of the Ti school board, has been instrumental in the development of the Marine Academy. He stressed the program is about much more than mechanics. He said students will learn about every facet of the business — fiber glass, painting, welding, woodworking, computers, sales and marketing.
Many of those jobs, he pointed out, are year-round, full-time opportunities.
That’s more than can be said for job prospects of many college graduates these days.
The Marine Academy will also be a partnership between education and business, providing students with practical experience while giving marinas and others a trained workforce.
Scott Andersen, manager of FR Smith and Sons Marina in Bolton, said he has been in contact with major marine manufacturers such as Mercury, Yamaha, Evinrude and Volvo. He believes those companies will support the the Ticonderoga Marine Academy by providing specialized tools, training materials and computer access. He believes academy graduates will be able to leave school with manufacturers’ certification — a huge asset in the marina industry.
Andersen also believes the Marine Academy can also expand in the future to train adult technicians. The nearest Mercury training center is in New Hampshire, he noted, and the nearest Yamaha training center is in Georgia.
The Marine Academy in Ticonderoga looks like a win-win situation for students and an important regional industry.
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