Stenger, NEK officials take on workforce issues - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Stenger, NEK officials take on workforce issues

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NEWPORT, Vt. -

No matter where you look at Jay Peak Resort there's construction. It's all part of the five year, 500-million economic revitalization initiative. Seven major projects throughout the Northeast Kingdom designed to bring up to 10-thousand jobs to the most economically challenged part of the state.

"Opportunity for every person in this county and surrounding counties if they need a job or want a better one -- there will be tremendous opportunity in a diversity of jobs," said Jay Peak's Bill Stenger, the man spearheading the effort.

The initiative spans from hotels and conference centers to the Korean bio-technology company, AnC Bio.  It means more than 3-thousand construction jobs -- currently there are 350 at Jay Peak alone.

There will also be opportunities in manufacturing, hospitality, engineering and food service sectors, to name a few. Wednesday state labor officials, schools and community colleges met to map out a plan to train the short term and long term workforce of the NEK.

"Lets get Vermonters here trained and ready to get these jobs. But it's going to create opportunities for kids now and attract back ex-patriots, as I call them," said Vt. Deputy Secretary of Commerce and Community Development, Patricia Moulton Powden.

"Our students, when they graduate, they move away because there's not a lot of opportunity, but this creates that opportunity so they'll want to return," said Bill Rivard, the Principal of North Country Union High School.

Technology jobs at AnC Bio could prove the most challenging to fill. There will be 300 positions. They will look at Vermonters first but may have to broaden the search to New England.
In local schools career exploration will start earlier -- in 5th grade. "We want to make sure our students are prepared not only in the career center end but in the college end so there are opportunities to return home and make a living," Rivard said.

"The fact that these resorts will be year-round, wages will be higher, benefits will be better and opportunities will be much broader," Bill Stenger said.

If you're interested in one of these careers, the Vt. Department of Labor will help you find the training you need.

Related Story:

Developers: Northeast Kingdom project could create 10K jobs

$500M project could bring thousands of jobs to Northeast Kingdom

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