Local Partnerships Drive Training and Placement of Nearly 300 Un-and-Underemployed in Manufacturing Jobs

Posted on December 1, 2015


Fifteen students have kicked-off the Manufacturing Careers Partnership’s first Machine Operator program. The students will develop knowledge and skills during the 12-week, competency-based program to make them job-ready for entry level manufacturing jobs, which employers say are a growing challenge to fill. The program is designed to provide foundational skills to un-and-underemployed residents in the greater Syracuse community, link them to entry-level employment within the manufacturing industry, and offer supports to workers and employers to help them retain talent and advance skill sets. The current class of students is expected to graduate by early 2016.

CenterState CEO—together with the Manufacturers Association of CNY, the CNY Technology Development Organization (CNYTDO), Onondaga Community College (OCC), SUNY Syracuse Educational Opportunity Center (EOC) and On Point for College—launched the Manufacturing Careers Partnership last spring. The entry level Machine Operator program is the first outcome of this collaboration. It aims to place nearly 300 individuals into manufacturing jobs by 2017 and rebuild the region’s manufacturing talent pipeline.

In addition to 400 hours of classroom and technical training aligned to national credentials, the Machine Operator program participants will participate in an on-site employer practicum. Students will receive support for job placement and ongoing support to advance within their careers.

The Manufacturing Careers Partnership is funded primarily by a $1.2 million grant from the New York State Assembly secured by Assemblyman Al Stripe. The partnership leverages the collective expertise, strengths and assets of partners within the community to meet employer demand within a growing industry while helping local residents secure employment. The Machine Operator program is the first program to be developed with this funding. Additional resources have come through a federal Department of Labor grant to SUNY OCC.

“The manufacturing industry is a vital part of Central New York’s economy, but too often, employers say they struggle to fill positions,” said New York State Assemblyman Al Stirpe. “The new manufacturing Machine Operator program pairs experienced instructors with motivated workers to meet the needs of local businesses. This initiative will help grow our economy and put Central New Yorkers back to work.”

In Syracuse, more than 400 manufacturing job were posted in the last year, while at the same time over one third of the city’s residents live in poverty.

“Central New York manufacturers have repeatedly told us that they have positions that go unfilled because they can’t find workers with the soft and technical skills they are looking for,” said Dominic Robinson, vice president of community prosperity at CenterState CEO. “At the same time, many local residents are willing and able to work, but need additional skills to access jobs and careers with good wages. The Machine Operator program bridges this gap and builds a manufacturing talent pipeline that meets the needs of employers and individuals alike.

“CNY has strong history in quality manufacturing. That spirit was once part of our whole community, now as we reintroduce manufacturing to a relatively new generation we are confident that this talent and creativity will have tremendous impact on the manufacturing of today,” says Tim Penix, vice president of the Syracuse SUNY EOC. "This effort will assist manufacturers in creating a new generation of quality manufacturing workers.”

The Manufacturing Careers Partnership is an industry partnerships convened by the Work Train initiative, a collaborative funded by local foundations and local and state government and administered by CenterState CEO. Work Train seeks to connect individuals to careers by working with employers and partners across the community to identify labor demand and develop targeted solutions. The Machine Operator program highlights ways in which partners can come together to develop solutions that benefit both residents and businesses in our community.

“We are pleased to see so many Central New York community partners coming together to support the needs of manufacturers,” said Randy Wolken, president and CEO of MACNY - The Manufacturers Association. “We must have these types of solutions for creating a pipeline of entry-level workers to address the skills gaps in the industry. The manufacturing sector has some of the highest paying jobs in New York and can provide a living wage for the successful graduates of this program. Manufacturing also has a direct impact on the overall health of our region, as manufacturing grows, so does our economy.”

Through its existing relationships with businesses, the CNY TDO helped the partnership to understand employers’ needs and is providing an industry-embedded instructor for the program.

“We engaged several local companies to help define the skills and characteristics required for Machine Operator candidates,” said Cindy Oehmigen, president of CNY TDO. “TDO is also honored to play a lead a role in the program’s hands-on instruction and technical education. Through the great work of the Manufacturing Careers Partnership team, the first cohort is well on its way to learning the skills to be successful in a career that promises good wages and opportunity for advancement.”

SUNY OCC was a key partner in curriculum development and is also providing program instruction in addition to CNY TDO and Syracuse EOC.

“OCC is really pleased to have worked so closely with our employer community to design a training program that meets their needs,” said Casey Crabill, president, SUNY OCC. “Together we are ensuring that students get the training and education they need to seize these opportunities and become great employees.”

The Machine Operator Program is one step toward strengthening the manufacturing industry in the region. Over the next several years, the Manufacturing Careers Partnership plans to develop additional strategies and programs designed to meet demand in the growing industry.

Those interested in participating in the program should contact: Melissa Menon, director, On Point for Jobs at MelissaMenon@Onpointforcollege.org.

Employers interested in learning more about Work Train should contact Pascale Mevs, assistant director, Work Train at pmevs@centerstateceo.com.

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