ALBANY — Two local community colleges will benefit from a $250,000 grant to expand their training programs for manufacturing workers.
The Center For Economic Growth on Wednesday announced it received the donation from the KeyBank Foundation. The money will go to Schenectady County Community College and Hudson Valley Community College over the next two years to support expansion and marketing of the training programs.
Workforce preparation is an ongoing effort for the Center for Economic Growth, which noted that the Capital Region manufacturing workforce is at a 16-year high and that Forbes named the region the nation’s seventh-most-thriving manufacturing metropolitan area in 2017 and 2018.
Employment in the Capital Region’s manufacturing sector in 2017 reached its highest level since 2001: 34,322 people with an average wage of $77,219, according to a Center For Economic Growth analysis of New York State Department of Labor data.
But with that growth comes a continual challenge for manufacturers in finding qualified employees.
The grant will fund two steps to help address this: First, HVCC will help build an entry-level talent pool for manufacturers. Second, SCCC will help experienced workers (currently employed or unemployed) increase their skill sets to qualify for new jobs or promotions.
In January and May, HVCC held its first two Manufacturing Technology Pathways boot camps, 80-hour training programs that combine classroom lectures with hands-on lab work. A total of 23 students completed the boot camps and now have the skills that Capital Region manufacturers have told the Center for Economic Growth are crucial to entry-level employment. The KeyBank Foundation grant will support four or five additional boot camps from mid-2018 through mid-2020, and HVCC expects 100 students to enroll in them.
This fall, SCCC will launch a certified production technician program in partnership with Capital Region BOCES and The Business Council of New York State. To boost the skills of workers with manufacturing experience, it will include eight- to 12-week certificate courses in five modules: safety; quality practices and measurement; manufacturing processes and production; maintenance awareness; and green production. The KeyBank funding will support three courses that are expected to enroll 10 students each.
The certified production technician program certificate is an industry-recognized credential; the Business Council noted the success of a similar program in the Buffalo area and supported its creation in the Capital Region.
The Center for Economic Growth will attempt to draw at least 25 percent of program participants from low- or moderate-income households, as per terms of the grant from the KeyBank Foundation.
CEG is the designated regional economic and business development organization for Albany, Rensselaer, Schenectady, Columbia, Greene, Saratoga, Warren and Washington counties, with more than 230 investor/partners in the business, government, education and non-profit sectors.
Cleveland-based KeyCorp was formed in 1825 in Albany and today operates 1,200-plus locations in 15 states, with 18,000-plus full-time equivalent employees managing more than $130 billion in assets. In 1969, it created the KeyBank Foundation to “support organizations and programs that prepare individuals for thriving futures and is advanced through three funding priorities — Neighbors, Education and Workforce — and through Community Service.