In the fall of 2020, Ocean County Vocational Technical School launched a heavy equipment operator program (HEOP) to address a local workforce development need. The support from two local employers: Michael Earle, president of Earle Residential-Commercial, and Thomas Eosso, president and project manager of Eosso Brothers Paving, was invaluable throughout the program development and has continued. OCVTS has named these two employers as the district’s 2021 Business Partners of the Year.
Earle was an early supporter of HEOP at OCVTS, providing a match for grants that helped get the program off the ground with the purchase of simulators for early training. Eosso Brothers donated a skid steer and roller to support the practical, hands-on component of the program.
Both industry partners have remained invested in the success of the program, providing students with valuable work-based learning experiences. And, all HEOP students have benefitted from site visits to see how such a business operates and learn more about the trade.
“These kids have an edge, so we want to invest in them,” said Thomas Eosso. “Our mindset is that we give them a good, valuable experience and they will stay with us.”
Students are certainly recognizing the value in these training experiences and building connections to potential employers. The district’s HEOP program began with 30 students in 2020-21 and has grown to almost 60 shared-time and adult students in the 2021-22 school year. The foresight demonstrated by both Earle and Eosso to support the next generation with vocational experiences will provide the industry with a much-needed pipeline of talent.