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MCC program posts strong growth

Monroe Community College is helping local precision machining firms find skilled workers by training potential employees and getting them into the workforce faster than was done in the past.

Since introducing its accelerated program in tooling and machining a few years ago, the number of students completing the program has grown, more than doubling over a three-year period. 

That translates to 83 students completing the program in 2015 versus 36 completions in 2012 before the accelerated program was developed, MCC reported.

MCC and other educational institutions such as Monroe 2 Orleans BOCES and Finger Lakes Community College, have been able to use the data MCC has collected to help fill the gap in skilled workers, said Todd Oldham vice president of MCC’s Economic Development and Innovative Workforce Services Division. 

Oldham’s office works to promote careers centered around science, technology, engineering and math along with technical education and middle-skills careers. It was formed in response to the widening middle-skills gaps that have been identified between employer needs and the changing workforce supply.

Oldham has spent the past few years researching the skills gap in the tool-and-die industry, ultimately publishing a report called “Measuring Middle-Skills Occupational Gaps Within the Finger Lakes Regional Economy.” 

The report uses a collection of data, annual demand estimates and program completion data, among other metrics, to estimate skills gaps in the community.

Out of that research came the groundwork for the accelerated programs, and their impact is being seen, he said.

While there is still a shortage of trained workers, due in part to the number of employees in the field reaching retirement age, the roster of those who are qualified to fill those positions is increasing, Oldham noted. 

He credits the improvements to a combination of labor market intelligence data analysis, successful identification and recruitment of the right candidates based on employer requirements, training, an effective use of local job placement resources, and collaboration on tooling and machining worker needs within the community. 

Jonathan Vilay has worked for FTT Manufacturing Inc. since 2014. He came to FTT from a BOCES adult program and MCC’s accelerated program.  

The MCC program provided him valuable training for a career in the machine tool field, providing hands-on training and helping instill in him the importance of hard work, Vilay said. 

“It was a great opportunity,” Vilay said. 

The program is an efficient way of creating skilled workers, Oldham said. He would like to take what is being done in the accelerated tool-and-die program and extend that to other industries, including optics. 

To further grow the local middle skills workforce, Oldham’s team is partnering with Eastman Business Park to create the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Center, which includes manufacturing-oriented programs and skilled trades training within classroom and lab space built at the park.

The center was formed to respond to the region’s demand for skilled workers across multiple manufacturing sectors and technical occupations, he said.

2/24/2017 (c) 2017 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email rbj@rbj.net.

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