JCC Will Do More To Prepare Workforce

From Sept. 1, 2017, through Oct. 31, 2018, Jamestown Community College (JCC) trained 2,719 individuals who were employees of 76 public and private sector organizations.

In partnership with Allegany, Cattaraugus and Chautauqua counties, JCC delivered all mandated New York State professional training for health and human services and social services staff.

In partnership with the University at Buffalo Center for Industrial Effectiveness, JCC delivered contract training in such areas as lean principles, root cause analysis and corrective action, Certified Production Technician, and Certified Logistics Technician.

In partnership with the Resource Management Institute of Western New York, JCC delivered required Occupational Safety and Health Administration training to numerous public and private sector organizations.

In partnership with the Manufacturers Association of the Southern Tier, JCC introduced the Advanced Manufacturing-Partnership (AMP) program, designed to provide selected students an opportunity to earn a manufacturing credential with tuition and fees funded by area manufacturers.

In addition, JCC’s Small Business Development Center counseled 339 small business clients and served 143 business clients in the permit center.

These efforts represent a typical year for JCC’s Center for Continuing Education. Why is this important? Taken together with enrollments in JCC’s academic programs, the college has a significant impact on our region’s economy. According to a study conducted by EMSI labor market data specialists in 2011, there is a $5.30 return for every dollar invested in a JCC student, over $800,000 annually in public savings, a $33 million infusion annually into the local economy and over $100 million added to the regional economy realized in higher earnings of graduates.

Meeting workforce training needs is critical to the economic well-being of the region, both present and future. As Chautauqua County Executive George Borrello has pointed out, area employers have difficulty filling hundreds of good paying positions because of a lack of skilled workers. There is more JCC can do to creatively address workforce training needs.

While there are numerous factors that contribute to positions going unfilled, some of which are beyond the college’s control, this coming year JCC is reorganizing its infrastructure to better support workforce readiness. Included in this effort will be a more deliberate focus on the Manufacturing Technology Institute (located on both JCC campuses in Jamestown and Olean) as an employer-driven resource, with new and more flexible programs, and recruitment strategies more closely aligned with our target market.

JCC will soon redefine a key college-wide position to provide leadership and oversight for workforce readiness programs. This individual will develop and maintain stronger partnerships by actively engaging the business community and other key stakeholders in program design, delivery, and marketing. Additionally, this person will lead a team with expertise in developing and delivering affordable, customized training and education plans that meet the unique needs of the companies in JCC’s service area.

New programs will be explored and expanded in such areas as agribusiness (hemp, viticulture, hops, medicinal marijuana), clean energy (solar, hydro, wind, HVAC/R), hospitality (tourism, culinary arts, events planning), and machine technology (robotics, automation, mechatronics). We have designated scholarships for workforce readiness and plan to expand their use for non-tuition related expenses as well as tuition, and for performance, e.g., program completion.

We must align programs and support services with our target market including high school students, incumbent workers, displaced workers, and the underemployed. For example, JCC’s Career Advantage program is designed for working adults, with courses offered at times convenient for them. We also need to provide more opportunities for hands-on experiences with paid internships and apprenticeships. To this end, JCC recently joined the U.S. Department of Labor Registered Apprenticeship College Consortium, a network of colleges working together to provide college-to-career opportunities.

JCC can and will do more to fulfill its role in preparing and improving the skills of the region’s workforce. We welcome the opportunity to collaborate with all workforce and economic development agencies to maximize resources in preparing the workforce to meet the needs of existing businesses, and to assist in recruiting new workers and businesses to New York state’s Southern Tier.

Daniel DeMarte is president of Jamestown Community College.