Schumer backs tech training

The federal government should do more to help community colleges develop high-tech workforce trainin

The federal government should do more to help community colleges develop high-tech workforce training programs, U.S. Sen. Charles E. Schumer said Wednesday.

“Fields driven by nanotechnology are expected to explode over the next few years,” Schumer said.

Over the next few years, GlobalFoundries, General Electric and other Capital Region companies will be looking to hire people for new jobs making things such as computer chips, industrial batteries and solar energy and wind power equipment.

Schumer said the proposed Strengthening Employment Clusters to Organize Regional Success Act would provide grants of up to $2.5 million to help community colleges and other schools establish high-tech training programs.

“We have more jobs than most other places. We have the more pleasant problem of making sure our young people have the skill sets needed,” Schumer said during an appearance at Hudson Valley Community College’s TEC-SMART training facility.

TEC-SMART was established last year to provide workforce training in computer chip manufacturing and clean energy technologies.

“This facility really exemplifies what our community colleges are all about. We are engines for workforce development,” said HVCC President Andrew Matonak.

College presidents or other representatives from Schenectady County, Fulton-Montgomery, SUNY Adirondack and Columbia-Greene community colleges also attended the announcement.

The five colleges are already developing or have training programs for high-tech jobs, but the federal Department of Labor recently turned down a grant application that would have expanded them.

Schumer said he still supports the grant application, but the SECTORS Act would provide a new source of job training funding.

High-tech manufacturing jobs require special skills, but not necessarily advanced college degrees, Schumer said. “Most of these jobs can be filled by people with two-year degrees,” he said.

Officials with GlobalFoundries agree. They chose the Capital Region for its $4.6 billion semiconductor plant because of its “strong educational pipeline,” said Emily Reilly, the company’s personnel director.

Fab 8 currently has nearly 1,000 employees, and expects to have close to 1,600 by the time commercial chip production starts late next year, Reilly said. Over time, she said, the company will start to see annual employee turnover and will need to hire new workers with technical skills.

While many of the company’s initial hires have been people from around the world with computer chip manufacturing experience, Reilly said the goal is to hire as many people as possible from the local area.

“Now we’re absolutely looking for people locally. That’s the model that’s more sustainable,” Reilly said.

Schumer, who had several Ballston Spa High School students who attend TEC-SMART programs stand with him during the announcement, said the legislation’s goal is to provide training for the kind of jobs that will keep local young people in the Capital Region.

“We need to make sure this technology boom is a boon for local workers,” Schumer said.

Categories: Business, Schenectady County

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