Today, U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand and Representative Daniel Maffei announced that Onondaga Community College (OCC) will receive $2,499,477 in federal funds to create and support a workforce training program aimed at advanced manufacturing for the agribusiness industry. The funds were allocated through the U.S. Department of Labor’s Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT). OCC’s program, to be called “CNY Future Opportunities Onondaga Delivers Pathway Initiative (CNYFOOD),” will be developed by the college in conjunction with local employers in the agribusiness industry. This funding will allow CNYFOOD to train Central New York residents, including veterans and adult learners, in the advanced manufacturing skills needed for today’s rapidly growing agribusiness industry. OCC will be partnering with local employers to collaboratively develop an employer-driven curriculum aimed at increasing student recruitment and career placement following graduation. Last week, Senator Schumer visited Byrne Dairy—one of OCC’s local employment partners—in Syracuse to push the Department of Labor to approve TAACCCT funding for OCC to get this kind of job-training program off the ground.
“This is great news for all of Central New York. It will enable Onondaga Community College to train hundreds of local residents per year in the skills needed to excel in the advanced manufacturing elements of the agribusiness industry and feed graduates into good-paying, highly specialized jobs in the process,” said Senator Schumer. “I went to bat for this proposal because there is the potential to create a tremendous amount of jobs right here in Central New York if we just have the people with the right skills and education, and I am confident this program will be a real difference-maker once it get up and running.”
“In order for New York to keep our competiveness in the 21st century global economy – and keep our skilled workforce in the region, we must advance our skills and prepare our students with the education they need for the jobs of the future,” said Senator Gillibrand. “This funding for Onondaga Community College will help provide hundreds of residents with the skills they need to land good-paying jobs in the agribusiness and related manufacturing industries.”
“This initiative is a win-win for the agribusiness industry and workers in Central New York,” said Rep. Maffei. “The skills gap is a serious issue facing our region, and this funding will create the workforce training program necessary to help businesses train highly-skilled workers and create good-paying jobs. I was proud to strongly support this initiative and will continue working to grow our local economy and push for investments in career and technical education programs across our local communities.”
“These funds will enhance Onondaga Community College’s capacity to deliver high quality education and job training in Advanced Manufacturing, fulfilling a workforce need for Central New York and fueling the state economy,” said SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher. “Congratulations to President Crabill and the OCC community on this excellent news, and thank you to Senators Schumer and Gillibrand as well as Congressman Maffei for their continued support and national advocacy for SUNY’s workforce development programs.”
Schumer, Gillibrand and Maffei said that OCC’s CNYFOOD program could mean employment opportunities for many Central New York residents who are out of work but currently do not possess the advanced manufacturing skills needed in the burgeoning and rapidly evolving agribusiness industry in Upstate New York. According to SUNY, there are a large number of positions available in Central New York, but not enough people with the kind of manufacturing skills needed to make these potential jobs a reality.
This OCC program will now have the potential to serve as a job pipeline for Upstate and Central New York residents into companies like Byrne Dairy. In addition to Byrne Dairy, the other local employment partners that will work with OCC to develop this curriculum and recruit potential workers include Agrana Fruit, American Food & Vending, Decorated Cookie Co. (Corso’s Cookies), Food Bank of Central New York, G&C Foods, Giovanni Food Co., HP Hood LLC, and Tops Friendly Markets. Each one of these companies has indicated a willingness to help develop the program, train students and hire qualified graduates. Schumer, Gillibrand and Maffei said that this is an exciting opportunity for veterans, currently unemployed persons, and other adult learners who are looking to break into the manufacturing and agribusiness fields now.
Schumer, Gillibrand and Maffei explained that Byrne Dairy is one of several companies that will be partnering with OCC and providing students in the two-year mechatronics-driven agribusiness program the opportunity to gain hands-on experience with the potential for post-graduate employment. Mechatronics is a multidisciplinary field that incorporates engineering, mechanics, electronics, and other technical work. Byrne Dairy is a third generation, family-owned producer and distributor of milk, cream, ice cream, and a variety of other dairy products that hopes to be able to recruit OCC students like those in the CNYFOOD program as it expands to meet the growing demand for nutritious dairy products.
Byrne Dairy, along with many other companies that require employees have technical, engineering, and mechanical skills and the ability to operate intricate machinery, have struggled to find a regional workforce pipeline that would enable available positions to be filled with qualified, local talent. This program, Schumer, Gillibrand and Maffei explained, would seek to remedy this workforce shortage issue. To support the success of this project, many of these companies will participate in curriculum development, program design and program implementation; provide context experts to aid students in the academic program; recruit participants for job opportunities and hire qualified applicants; promote incumbent workers to upgrade their skills, and provide evaluations of interns and program participants to support continuous student and employer involvement in the program.
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) program provides community colleges and other eligible institutions of higher education with funds to expand and improve their ability to deliver education and career training programs that can be completed in two years or less, are suited for workers who are eligible for training under the TAA for Workers program, and prepare program participants for employment in high-wage, high-skill occupations.