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KeyBank Foundation Awards CEG $250K to Expand MFG Training Programs at HVCC

As employment in the Capital Region’s manufacturing sector climbs to a 16-year high, KeyBank Foundation announced its award of a $250,000, two-year grant to the Center for Economic Growth (CEG). The funding will support the expansion, launch and marketing of manufacturing training programs at Hudson Valley Community College (HVCC) and SUNY Schenectady County Community College (SUNY SCCC).

The KeyBank Foundation grant will advance a two-pronged workforce development strategy for countering the skills gap that poses challenges to the region’s manufacturing sector. Last month, that growth prompted Forbes to name the area the nation’s seventh most thriving manufacturing metro for a second consecutive year. The first prong, at HVCC, focuses on building an entry-level talent pool for Capital Region manufacturers. The second prong, at SCCC, concentrates on skilling up incumbent or higher-skilled, unemployed workers for more advanced positions.

“Workforce development programs can create pathways for all people from every background with the skills and education needed to thrive in their careers,” said Ruth Mahoney, president, Capital Region, KeyBank. “This is why we are so proud to partner with CEG on the expansion of our local manufacturing training programs. By offering learning opportunities today, we’re helping to meet the needs of a changing workforce tomorrow – with a well-trained local workforce.”

Manufacturing Bootcamp

In January 2018, HVCC launched its first Manufacturing Technology Pathways “boot camp.” It is a short-term, stackable credential training program that involves an 80-hour manufacturing boot camp that combines classroom lectures with hands-on lab experiences. A second boot camp was held in May. Twenty-three students completed the first two boot camps and are now primed with the skills that Capital Region manufacturers surveyed by CEG have identified as crucial to entry-level employment.

The KeyBank Foundation grant will support four to five additional boot camps through mid-2020. The first boot camp funded under the grant is scheduled to begin in August. HVCC expects 100 students to enroll in these boot camps. Under the parameters of the grant, CEG will seek to have 25 percent of program participants in both the HVCC and SUNY SCCC courses hail from low- to moderate-income households.

“KeyBank and CEG’s support of the Manufacturing Technology Pathways program is instrumental in helping to create a trained workforce for the local advanced manufacturing industry,” said HVCC President Drew Matonak. “We’re extremely grateful to have many partnering organizations, businesses, and individuals who are committed to bettering the future of the region.”

The Pathways program was modeled after Massachusetts’ successful Manufacturing Advancement Center Workforce Innovation Collaborative (MACWIC). Its development was a key recommendation in a 2017 study on the skills gap in the region’s manufacturing sector conducted by CEG for the for the Capital Region Workforce Development Boards supporting Albany, Rensselaer, Schenectady, Columbia, Greene, Saratoga, Warren and Washington counties.

Certified Production Technicians

This fall, SUNY SCCC will launch a Certified Production Technician (CPT) program in partnership with Capital Region BOCES and The Business Council of New York State. The program will include an eight- to 12-week-long certificate course designed to skill-up incumbent workers who are looking to advance their career, or enhance the education of an unemployed or underemployed person who possesses some manufacturing experience. There are five individual certificate modules: safety; quality practices and measurement; manufacturing processes and production; maintenance awareness and green production. The KeyBank funding will support three CPT courses that are expected to enroll 10 students each, or 30 total.

“At SUNY SCCC we are dedicated to providing pathways, in many forms, to empower our students to reach their goals and achieve success,” said SUNY SCCC President Dr. Steady Moono. “We are grateful to KeyBank for this substantial funding and to the Center for Economic Growth, The Business Council of New York State and Capital Region BOCES, as we embark on developing the new Certified Production Technician program to offer more members of our community the opportunity to expand their education and advance in their careers.”

The CPT program is an industry-recognized credential of the Manufacturing Skills Standard Council (MSSC), and is recognized across the country by industry and higher education as a high quality program preparing the manufacturing workforce. In engaging with stakeholders across the state, The Business Council became aware of the successful program in Buffalo through public and private partnerships and saw an opportunity to bring it to the Capital Region based on the needs of local employers.  

“Capital Region BOCES is excited to be part of supporting the Certified Production Technician program in collaboration with our partners in business and higher education,” said Capital region BOCES Senior Executive Officer Joseph P. Dragone. “Our adult education programs are committed to quality workforce development to support business and industry from throughout the region, and this program highlights our current efforts across many industries to fuel the workforce pipeline.”     

“I’m deeply proud of the role The Business Council and our members played in making this partnership possible,” said Heather C. Briccetti, Esq. president and CEO of The Business Council of New York State, Inc. “Thanks to funding by KeyBank, and our education and training partnerships, local manufacturers will be able to work hand-in-hand with educators to ensure program graduates have the skills needed to fill their abundant and well-paying job openings. The CPT program is an example of the type of industry-recognized workforce training program our members are looking for, and one we will continue to scale and share across the state to meet their workforce needs.”

CEG Program Marketing

The KeyBank Foundation grant will also support CEG’s marketing of the HVCC and SCCC training programs. Guiding CEG’s marketing strategy will be the findings from its 2017 Pathways Project for Advanced Manufacturing study, for which the economic development organization interviewed 17 local manufacturer executives and 46 non-exempt, manufacturing focused employees. CEG will be promoting the training programs and opportunities in the region’s manufacturing sector at car shows and races, along Capital District Transportation Authority (CDTA) transit lines, and at Capital District Educational Opportunity Centers. CEG may also promote the programs on YouTube instructional videos, from which workers ideal for manufacturing jobs informally learn how to use new tools or fix equipment.

“With the KeyBank Foundation’s generous award of this grant, our Pathways Project study is no longer a plan for bridging the skills gap. We now have that bridge and workers are crossing it to enter one of the nation’s most thriving manufacturing sectors, which promises high-paying and stable careers with upward mobility,” said CEG President and CEO Andrew Kennedy.

Manufacturing Employment

Employment in the Capital Region’s manufacturing sector last year climbed to its highest level since 2001. In 2017, the eight-county region’s manufacturers drove a 1.6 percent net jobs gain to an annual average of 34,322. Employment was up 7.6 percent from five years earlier. In 2017, the region’s manufacturers paid $2.2 billion in total wages, up 5.8 percent from the previous year. The sector’s average wage was $77,219, according to a CEG analysis of New York State Department of Labor data.

Other regional initiatives underway to help meet manufacturers demand for talent include the April groundbreaking of HVCC’s Gene F. Haas Center for Advanced Manufacturing Skills(CAMS). This $14.5 million, 37,000-square-foot building will be dedicated to providing hands-on training to machinists, toolmakers, industrial maintenance technicians and other skilled technical workers. CEG is also sponsoring a Manufacturing Intermediary Apprenticeship Program (MIAP) to assist local manufacturers in training workers for high-skill trades. Through its partnership with the Manufacturers Association of Central New York (MACNY), a local manufacturer has already started onboarding apprentices into the program.

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