Islip Town puts students in trades to work

Long IslandSuffolk

Islip Town puts students in trades to work

The town's first formalized internship program will train high schoolers and help Islip save money on work, such as auto repair.


Auto students working on a car


Aitana Marca, left, 17, of Patchogue, along with Johnny Bermudez, 17, of Central Islip, and Jason Velasquez, 17, of Patchogue, check the tire pressure on an Islip Town vehicle during an automotive class at Milliken Technical Center in Oakdale on Friday. Photo Credit: Jessica Rotkiewicz

By Rachelle Blidner @rachelleblidner Updated January 6, 2019 6:00 AM

For students in Oakdale, the method of learning could transition from textbooks to Town Hall.

Islip Town and Eastern Suffolk BOCES officials said they are partnering to create an internship program that will give Eastern Long Island Academy of Applied Technology students on-the-job training.

Students at the Edward J. Milliken Technical Center in Oakdale will use the trades they are already learning, such as auto body and repair, officials said.

The 11th- and 12th-graders could work in the field at the town's highway yards or shadow Islip employees. Students staying on campus could repair municipal cars and boats.

“It’s such a natural fit of what we’re teaching and what they need in the town,” principal Thomas McGrath said.

The terms of the internship deal are still being determined, including the number of students participating and their exact roles. The program rolled out on Thursday, when officials dropped off an older town vehicle in Oakdale to have students repair it.

The deal creates the town’s only formalized internship program, officials said. About five or six college students interned for the town in 2018, mainly performing clerical work.

The program would also be the academy’s largest partnering with a town, school officials said. Students mainly work with businesses and have previously partnered with Brookhaven and Riverhead towns.

Bottom of Form

The internships could get students interested in government work and create a pipeline for employment while allowing them to test out future careers, Islip officials said.

“Having that real time exposure to what you think you want to do, it's really invaluable,” Supervisor Angie Carpenter said.

The program could also save taxpayers money, officials said. The students will not be paid for the internships, and the school will charge the town only for the cost of parts in repairs, officials said. Costs for wrapping vehicles with town logos, for example, would cost about $200, down from the $1,300 typically charged by outside firms, said Arthur Abbate, town director of labor relations and personnel.

Abbate noted that he spoke with the town employees’ union before proceeding with the program deal. 

“It’s a real progressive opportunity for us to show how government agencies can get together and create value for everybody involved, including the taxpayer,” Abbate said.

The Milliken Center’s 700 students are already working on the school campus, McGrath said. Those in the auto body and repair programs maintain cars for community members by providing oil changes, tire changes and wheel balancing. Students in the law enforcement program shadow TSA agents at Long Island MacArthur Airport on a field trip. Other programs include HVAC, welding and culinary classes.  

“What they learn is the skills to move up and move on,” said Leah Arnold, director of career technical and adult education at Eastern Suffolk BOCES. 

Internship work could include:

  • Repair town cars and boats on school grounds
  • Shadow town employees
  • Work in the town highway yards
  • Perform facilities maintenance

By Rachelle Blidner @rachelleblidner

Rachelle Blidner covers the Town of Islip and breaking news.