Advanced Skills for an Advancing Industry
Category: Smartforce • Mar 16, 2020
The manufacturing technology industry in the greater Albany, N.Y., area needs more qualified employees to meet the current demands of the rapidly expanding industry.
To expand the pool of skilled employees, one community college in New York has an innovative solution. Hudson Valley Community College (HVCC) in Albany, N.Y., opened its new Gene F. Haas Center for Advanced Manufacturing Skills (CAMS) in September 2019. The center allows the school to double enrollment in its Advanced Manufacturing Technology program, which trains machinists, toolmakers, and CNC programmers.
CAMS is a $14.5 million, 37,000-square-foot space made possible by public sector support and private industry investment. Manufacturing companies donated much of the advanced equipment in the state-of-the-art labs. Corporate partners gain access to office and conference space in the building and can form connections with high-quality students. The center was built specifically to serve and expand the workforce.
And it’s working. Professors, students, and business owners are already reaping the rewards of the new center. In the past few years, the community college began advanced manufacturing training, which enabled students to find jobs at local businesses. Those businesses are returning to the college to find qualified candidates.
The center was created to solve an ever-growing challenge at HVCC. “The college could never meet the demand of local industries for qualified students,” recalled Dave Larkin, Professor of Advanced Manufacturing Technology at HVCC.
Although the school has been teaching machine tools, welding, and other manufacturing production for more than 60 years, in developing the CAMS, they decided to focus on robotics, automation, and 3D printing.
“We try to anticipate what companies need. Our students have skills that are in high demand, now and for the next two decades,” Larkin said. “We know we are doing a good job because the companies our students go to come back for more students.”
Employees who are trained at HVCC have an excellent track record in the local manufacturing technology industry. Joel Lape, a foreman at Package One Manufacturing, explained that the company currently employees more than 25 HVCC graduates.
Lape noted that the employees trained at HVCC have a real passion for using manufacturing technology to create solutions. “They share the same excitement I have about making something and being productive,” he said. “Manufacturing is a field of endless opportunities,” said Truman Perry, a student at HVCC. Perry is one year from graduation, but he has already completed a successful internship and recently signed a contract for a full-time position starting as soon as he graduates.
HVVC’s Center for Advanced Manufacturing Skills is merging industry training and employee recruitment. Bringing potential employers and qualified employees together under one roof will ultimately advance the manufacturing industry as a whole—and that is an idea worth advancing.