Public-Private Partnerships at Work: Community Colleges and Local Companies Partner to Educate and Develop Tomorrow's Workers

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Community Colleges and Local Companies Partner to Educate and Develop Tomorrow’s Workers

 E vent at CNSE’s Smart System Technology & Commercialization Center of Excellence highlights how partnerships are educating workers for 47,700 projected “middle skill” job openings in Rochester-Finger Lakes region

 FLCC and Moser Baer Technologies announce new clean room technician program

CANANDAIGUA, N.Y., May 24, 2011 – The Skills2Compete-New York Campaign has predicted a massive shortage in workers needed to fill a projected 996,190 “middle-skill” job openings in New York state between now and 2018. In the Greater Rochester-Finger Lakes region alone, state Labor Department officials project the number of middle-skill job openings to be 47,700 — more than the 47,500 projected highly skilled job openings.

Middle-skill jobs are those that require more than a high school diploma, but less than a four-year college degree. As baby boomers retire, companies everywhere are finding that younger workers lack the skills to replace retiring baby boomers, creating a dire need for middle-skill workers. Companies also continue to recruit for jobs requiring baccalaureate and advanced degrees, which are critical to growth and future expansion. Both middle-skills and jobs requiring a college or advanced degree will attract the best and the brightest from throughout our region and will help retain local talent, including displaced workers and students graduating from community colleges. Statewide, nearly 80 percent of community college graduates remain local.

"Middle-skill workers are already in high demand and are needed to help companies like Optimax compete and grow," said Optimax Systems President Mike Mandina. "Our company has a three-year plan to add three-to-four net new jobs every month. But our company is struggling to find the workers to fill them. That's why companies like ours are working diligently with local community colleges to educate workers, and why we're now looking to partner with middle schools and high schools to ensure the education pipeline develops the workers our economy needs to compete and grow."

Dozens of companies in the region are working with Finger Lakes Community College (FLCC), Monroe Community College (MCC), Genesee Community College (GCC), as well as regional workforce development boards and industrial development agencies to create specialized programs to provide companies with the trained workers they need to compete and grow in today’s economy.  Area community colleges are developing non-credit and associate degree programs directly related to fulfilling future job demand in areas such as health care, technology, viticulture, and more.

These public-private partnerships were highlighted today as part of a special event with SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher at the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering’s (CNSE) Smart Systems Technology & Commercialization Center of Excellence (STC) in Canandaigua. More than 100 people from throughout the region attended the event, “Developing the Talent Pipeline to Compete Globally, Grow Locally,” at CNSE’s STC — SUNY’s newest campus.

"Creative partnerships with local businesses and emerging industries are the cornerstones of SUNY's strategic plan and the key to creating employment opportunities and economic growth throughout New York State," said Chancellor Zimpher. "The extraordinary collaboration of SUNY's community colleges and regional businesses, workforce boards and economic developers is giving much-needed attention to our state's essential, but too-often overlooked need for qualified workers to fill a growing number of 'middle-skill' jobs. It's not enough for New York State to cultivate top talent in its colleges; we need to do our best to keep it by nurturing a smooth pipeline to rewarding employment in New York-based industries. I applaud all of today's participants for proving the power of partnership."

“The College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering’s Smart System Technology & Commercialization Center of Excellence is delighted to host this discussion which highlights the critical need to build public-private partnerships as a catalyst to spur educational excellence, groundbreaking innovation, and  economic opportunity and growth,” said Paul Tolley, CNSE Vice President for Disruptive Technologies and Executive Director of the CNSE’s STC. “Our on-site collaboration with Moser Baer Technologies illustrates the unique ability of CNSE’s STC to enable new educational programs that will ultimately lead to exciting and rewarding high-tech careers for individuals in the Greater Rochester region.”

The latest public-private partnership to address the middle-skills gap is a new Clean Room Technician program at FLCC. Working in partnership with Moser Baer Technologies, FLCC has created a program to provide the clean room technicians that Moser Baer needs.

“We will have a need over the next two years to hire approximately 30 to 40 clean room operators who will watch over production of organic light-emitting diode (OLED) lighting panels,” said David Newman, vice president of Moser Baer Technologies. “This is a new kind of position, and the people we hire will need to walk in with the basic understanding of the protocols, conditions, and requirements for working in a cleanroom setting.”

“We are delighted to be working so closely with Moser Baer Technologies to help train workers for well-paying and secure jobs in this exciting industry,” said Lynn Freid of Professional Development and Continuing Education at FLCC.  “It is a great partnership with room to grow, which is a win-win for everyone.”

GCC is working with United Memorial Medical Center of Batavia on specialized customer satisfaction education and safety training.

“Over the past two years, we have come to appreciate Chancellor Zimpher’s vision of regional partnering to activate the true ‘Power of SUNY,’” said Dr. Eunice Bellinger, Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs at GCC. “Economic development and the necessary underpinnings of a well-trained workforce are the deliverables we can contribute to a healthy and vibrant New York.  Genesee Community College continues to look toward innovation as well as sound educational practice to help prepare the workforce that will lead our region in economic recovery and development.”

Efforts are under way to further enhance the entire education and workforce pipeline, starting at the middle-school and high-school levels, through the community-college level,  and on to the four-year-college level and beyond.

FLCC and the Ontario County Industrial Development Agency were major sponsors of today’s event. The Ontario County IDA has worked for years with local employers, FLCC, the Finger Lakes Workforce Investment Board and others to solve the middle-skill gap and worker shortage.

“Companies need skilled workers to compete and grow in today’s economy — not just the highly skilled, but the middle-skilled,” said IDA Executive Director Mike Manikowski. “If we can all help shine a light on the solutions to address this need, our entire regional economy will benefit and prosper.”

For additional information contact:

Megan Connor Murphy

Dixon Schwabl

585-899-3258 office

585-339-8379 cell

Twitter: @mconnormurphy

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