Micron partnership opens new career pathways for students

In just a few years, students interested in the semiconductor industry—or students intrigued by high tech in general and hungry to learn more—will have a brand new pathway to exploring this booming sector of the economy, right in their own high schools. What’s more, that pathway could open directly to jobs at Micron, the tech giant that is building as many as four microchip manufacturing plants in Clay, N.Y.—bringing some 9,000 jobs to central New York, not to mention the 40,000 jobs created by related construction and infrastructure.

AFT President Randi Weingarten, fifth from left, joins regional officials and Micron executives at the groundbreaking in Syracuse. Photo courtesy of Gov. Hochul's office.
AFT President Randi Weingarten, fifth from left, joins regional officials and Micron executives at the groundbreaking in Syracuse. Photo courtesy of Gov. Hochul's office.

The opportunity is the result of an unprecedented partnership involving the AFT, New York State United Teachers, the United Federation of Teachers (New York City), Micron Technology and New York Gov. Kathy Hochul. Together, these entities have committed $4 million to develop the New York Advanced Technology Framework, a plan that will train middle school and high school students for high-tech jobs and careers through a curriculum rich in hands-on experiences and learning systems.

The program—a pilot launching in 10 school districts over three years beginning in fall 2024—is expected to draw students from a broad spectrum of demographics so they can pursue careers that could help them thrive long after graduation. The first-of-its-kind framework, developed directly by teachers and Micron, integrates industry-based career exploration to engage students in deeper learning, such as analyzing information, thinking critically and applying knowledge, while providing students with real-life, real-world skills.

"This unique career-connected collaboration between schools, teachers, unions, workforce development and industry links students’ passion and curiosity with purpose, paving pathways to good, middle-class jobs,” says AFT President Randi Weingarten.

STEAMing ahead in Syracuse

An array of officials, including Gov. Hochul, the mayor of Syracuse, Micron executives and union leaders, picked up shovels Dec. 7 for the groundbreaking at the Syracuse Science, Technology, Arts and Math High School—the first countywide technical high school in New York, and among the first expected to benefit from the new CTE framework. There, $74 million of combined funding from Micron and New York state will build a school that offers semiconductor manufacturing technology, data analytics, robotics, entertainment engineering, media technology and design, and other high-tech areas of study—along with business entrepreneurship, construction management, and visual and performing arts programs.

From left, Michael Mulgrew, Randi Weingarten and Melinda Person at the CTE framework announcement. Photo courtesy of Gov. Hochul's office.
From left, Michael Mulgrew, Randi Weingarten and Melinda Person at the CTE framework announcement. Photo courtesy of Gov. Hochul's office.

It is a monumental project, but only the beginning of a framework educators and community leaders hope will spread not only in New York but beyond. “This is a national model of teachers working with their superintendents, working in the public schools with industry in partnership for the American dream, for us to see a way of rising,” said Weingarten during the groundbreaking ceremonies. “This unique partnership is anchored in our shared vision of real solutions for kids and communities that prepare kids for college, career, civic participation and life,” she said in a separate statement. “It not only helps students thrive, it plants the seeds of a manufacturing renaissance across New York and around the country.”

Across the state

The framework will be piloted in 10 school districts and BOCES (Boards of Cooperative Educational Services) over three years beginning in fall 2024. The districts and BOCES are: Baldwinsville, Chittenango, East Syracuse Minoa, Liverpool, New York City (Brooklyn STEAM Center and Thomas Edison High School), Niagara Falls, North Syracuse, Syracuse, OCM BOCES and Watertown. After a pilot phase, the goal is to scale and sustain the Advanced Technology Framework across New York state to increase the pipeline of students interested in the semiconductor industry and to expand workforce development.

“From New York City to Syracuse, we’ve already seen exciting successes through experiential, hands-on learning programs that emphasize critical thinking, foster kids’ innate curiosity and offer them clear pathways to fulfilling jobs,” said NYSUT President Melinda Person. “Our educators know that building these real-world skills early works, and their expertise is a vital part of this new framework that will strengthen our schools, families and communities across the state of New York.”

“I want to thank the team of educators who created this framework,” said UFT President Michael Mulgrew. “By vetting content with industry experts, this team created a toolkit that local school districts can now use to create their own curriculum. This is how we scale up and expand career and technical education.”

Coordinated, collaborative and sustainable education opportunities for New York students in the semiconductor field will elevate the state as a national leader in student preparation for workforce development and industry awareness as well as enhance economic competitiveness, while tackling structural barriers to social and economic justice.

“Educators are the essential link in the partnerships we are forging in New York and around the U.S. to build a workforce that is prepared to drive technological leadership,” said Micron Executive Vice President and Chief People Officer April Arnzen, who is also president of the Micron Foundation. “We will develop a framework together with the New York State Education Department and the American Federation of Teachers—with its affiliates New York State United Teachers and the United Federation of Teachers—that will empower teachers to introduce students from all backgrounds to the opportunities a STEM education offers. Equipping teachers with industry knowledge helps build their confidence to inspire students with new possibilities and pathways to careers—including high-tech careers at Micron here in New York.”

[AFT communications staff]