Training urged for aviation jobs in Plattsburgh

PORTHENRY-Laurentian Aerospace won't hire any employees for more than a year, but now is the time for prospective workers to begin preparing.

That was the message delivered by employment specialists and educators during an informational meeting hosted by the Essex County Industrial Development Agency at Moriah Central School March 16.

"Laurentian won't be hiring for another year," Paul Grasso, executive director of the North Country Workforce Investment Board told about 40 people. "Construction is scheduled to start in April and will take 18 months.

"That's a long time to wait for someone looking for a job," he said. "Take this time to start preparing yourself to be a good applicant for Laurentian."

Laurentian Aerospace Corporation is scheduled to open a $175 million, state-of-the-art maintenance repair and overhaul facility for wide-body aircraft at the Plattsburgh International Airport in late 2012 or early 2013. The firm is expected to hire 200 workers initially and plans on employing up to 900 people.

The vast majority of those jobs will require specific skills, explained James McCarthy, principal of the Plattsburgh Aeronautical Institute, a division of Champlain Valley Educational Services in Plattsburgh.

The PAI Aviation Tech Program can provide workers with those skills, McCarthy said. He explained the program, which is available to high school students and adults. Participants can become Federal Aviation Administration-certified technicians in 2 to 3 years, he said.

PAI is working closely with Laurentian to ready prospective employees, McCarthy said.

The highest paid employees will likely be FAA-certified mechanics, who could earn between $75,000 and $80,000.

"We're very privileged to have a company the magnitude of Laurentian locate in our area," McCarthy said.

When Laurentian begins hiring, the process will work through OneWorkSource offices in Plattsburgh, Elizabethtown and Malone. The hiring process will be coordinated by Stacy Soucy, an employment services representative with the state Department of Labor in Plattsburgh.

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