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Groundbreaking MCC Study Lays Out Road Map for Future of Work

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Report focuses on training highly skilled technicians as Industry 4.0 transforms businesses

While some regional employers call a portion of their staffers back to work, many unemployed area residents are job hunting and re-evaluating their career goals. Out-of-work individuals especially may need to develop new skills to secure new jobs as economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic is likely to see employers increasingly rely on technologies to stay competitive, transforming the way business is done.

A groundbreaking Future of the Technician Workforce Study by Monroe Community College’s Economic and Workforce Development Center sheds light on the most-in-demand skills and what the future of work looks like in the Finger Lakes region over the next five years and beyond as current and emerging technologies—including artificial intelligence and virtual reality— transform businesses’ operations.

The 60-page report examines how Industry 4.0 and transformative technologies are likely to change businesses’ operations and technician job functions in four key industry sectors: manufacturing and automation, information technology, health care, and human resources and professional services. It also explores the roles of employers and community colleges in supporting the region’s new generation of technicians.

The study is based on extensive input from over 100 industry professionals from 80 regional organizations who participated in a fall 2019 strategic planning workshop hosted by MCC. Between full-group discussions and parallel breakouts, contributors participated in a total of 22 distinct focus groups throughout the one-day workshop.

Although the study grew out of pre-pandemic statewide and national dialogues on the 21st-century workforce, the coronavirus crisis is accelerating the fourth industrial revolution and MCC’s implementation of workforce development strategies in relation to the education and training of future technicians. Study findings are guiding the collaborative efforts of MCC and area employers in helping bridge the skills gaps and opening doors to family-sustaining careers.

A digital companion piece to the study is a 17-minute “Careers of the Future” film that features six Finger Lakes/Western New York employers harnessing technology—including augmented reality, data analytics, automation and robotics—to increase efficiency and enhance operations. LiDestri, University of Rochester Medical Center, and Wegmans are examples of employers that are shaping the future of industry and determining the skill sets that will be the most valuable for job seekers to have.

The study identifies competencies and skill requirements, including equipment needs, of the future technician workforce. It also suggests a range of Industry 4.0 credentials that would qualify future technicians for competitive careers.

Some of the major findings of the study gleaned from the collective perspectives of business and industry members, community stakeholders, and leading experts:

  • Eight major technology areasIndustrial internet of things (IIoT), additive manufacturing, automation and robotics, data analytics/data science, artificial intelligence, augmented and virtual reality, advanced process control and mechatronics will have the most transformative impact on multiple industry sectors and will determine the skill sets employers most want in their workers.
  • Cybersecurity—The proliferation of IIoT technologies and services compels businesses to place greater value in data security to ensure the protection of data and information for consumers. Across all industries, technicians are needed to help secure and manage cloud- and edge-based platforms and other IIoT devices and frameworks.
  • Soft skills—In addition to technical skills, Finger Lakes regional businesses indicate a need to hire more technicians with complementary soft skills including communications, teamwork, leadership, problem-solving, and project management.
  • Systems integration—All industry sectors emphasize the need for technicians with systems knowledge to connect different administrative levels of organizations in a coordinated or unified manner. This also includes the ability to set up and troubleshoot IIoT-connected systems such as networks of manufacturing equipment as well as integration with broader supply chain networks to increase productivity and quality of services.
  • Data collection, analysis, and visualization—Regional business place significant value in technicians with experience and knowledge of advanced data analysis and mathematical skills. This includes abilities to collect data from multiple sensors (data fusion), visually present information, transform raw datasets, apply pattern recognition methods, and use software for machine learning and other artificial intelligence-based suites.
  • Education and training programs—Community and technical colleges must keep up with the pace of Industry 4.0 technology development to ensure technicians succeed in the workplace. Industry partnerships can play a significant role in coordinating with community colleges to strengthen the pipeline of qualified technicians, including through apprenticeships, specialized training and the development of Industry 4.0 certifications.
  • Stackable credentials—Strengthening the future workforce includes increasing opportunities for learners to achieve a credential that they can build upon over time.

The comprehensive study will serve as a road map for regional workforce development and will inform current and future academic programs at MCC, including the development of the Finger Lakes Workforce Development Center at the Downtown Campus. Upon completion, the 50,000-square-foot state-of-the-art center will offer short-term and accelerated training programs that meet the evolving workforce demands of the region’s industries.

The workshop and study were funded by a grant from the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation.

Governor Cuomo Announces New Home of Finger Lakes Workforce Development Center at Monroe Community College

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Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the Finger Lakes Workforce Development Center will soon be located on the downtown campus of Monroe Community College located at 321 State Street in the City of Rochester, Monroe County. This moves the center from its originally planned location at Eastman Kodak Business Park to a more central location on the downtown MCC campus. The new “MCC FWD Center” will be more easily accessible to students, residents, and community partners. It will support Eastman Kodak Business Park tenant companies as programs in skilled trades, advanced manufacturing, and industrial technology will be provided at the Center or as on-site contract training, while opening up this opportunity for support to additional businesses located outside of the business park.

“Investing in our workforce is essential for continued growth in Rochester and the Finger Lakes Region,” Governor Cuomo said. “The FWD Center will provide a needed pipeline for in-demand technical manufacturing jobs – and this new location is a logical fit for the region, our partners at Monroe Community College and the businesses that will benefit from access to quality workers trained in the skills needed to succeed in today’s economy.”

“Investing in accessible job training is essential to provide individuals with the skills businesses are looking for as they modernize and grow in the innovation economy,” said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. “The Finger Lakes Workforce Development Center’s new location at Monroe Community College is centrally located for students and residents to take advantage of programs in trades, manufacturing, and technology. It will increase opportunities for good paying jobs in Rochester and beyond, and will continue to strengthen businesses and spur investment in the Upstate economy. New York is leading the way to create a pipeline of talent for our workforce and employers.”

Monroe Community College’s Workforce Development Expertise Highlighted in Aspen Institute Report

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Monroe Community College is one of only six community colleges in the country cited in The Aspen Institute’s new report, The Workforce Playbook, a Community College Guide to Delivering Excellent Career and Technical Education . MCC and five other colleges are cited as national models for best practices in workforce development.

The Workforce Playbook is a practical guide with the goal of improving community colleges’ effectiveness in delivering talent for communities and enabling social mobility for students. Aspen’s Workforce Playbook uses concrete examples from the six identified high-performing community colleges to offer specific guidance about what colleges can do to build more effective workforce programs.

Monroe Community College is noted in the playbook for its innovative use of data to meet the current and emerging needs of the local economy. The College uses data and labor market analysis to support employers in the development of their workforces.

“MCC’s labor market-informed approach to workforce development has helped us to better understand where to make program investments that will result in a larger pool of skilled workers that are most needed by local industry,” said Dr. Todd Oldham, vice president, economic development and workforce and career technical education.

LadderzUP, a Monroe County workforce development program powered by Monroe Community College, is also cited in the Aspen report as a unique practice. LadderzUP connects area residents to skills training aligned to the needs of local employers. Since its inception in 2017, over 750 individuals have been trained and placed into new jobs or elevated in their current employment. The program has trained individuals for work in advanced manufacturing, health care, skilled trades, construction and information technology.

“LadderzUP has been a life-changing program for over 750 Monroe County residents,” said Monroe County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo. “This innovative partnership between Monroe County and MCC has helped unlock enhanced career opportunities for individuals interested in growing fields like health care, information technology, advanced manufacturing, and the skilled trades. We’re proud of this partnership and pleased that it is being recognized as a national model.”

The Workforce Playbook also underscores the importance of K-12/higher education partnerships in building the worker pipeline. Monroe Community College is recognized for its partnership with the Rochester City School District and P-TECH to make it possible for students to graduate with a high school diploma and an associate’s degree in information technology.

“For the Aspen Institute to consider MCC an exemplar community college in the field of workforce development is a testament to MCC’s long history of innovation, focus on local needs and the leadership of Dr. Todd Oldham,” said MCC President Anne M. Kress. “We look forward to building on existing partnerships and establishing new ones that create growth opportunities for area employers and citizens.”

To read the full report, visit

MCC Awarded State Grant to Keep At-Risk Students in School

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$355,000 supports Liberty Partnerships Program at Downtown Campus

ROCHESTER, N.Y. – Aug. 1, 2017 – Monroe Community College is among three Greater Rochester colleges awarded Liberty Partnerships Program (LPP) grants to help at-risk students in grades 5-12 successfully graduate, the New York State Education Department recently announced. Statewide, 44 colleges and universities will receive LPP grants totaling more than $17 million.

LPP is a state-funded dropout prevention program that links local school districts with colleges and community-based organizations. The five-year, $355,000 grant awarded to MCC will support about 285 middle and high school LPP students each year. A complete list of LPP grant recipients is available online.

Housed on MCC’s Downtown Campus, the LPP at MCC has served at-risk, low-income students for 28 years through comprehensive programs — including skills assessment, tutoring, mentoring, and college/career exploration, student leadership opportunities, and community service projects — to prepare students to successfully transition into postsecondary education or the workforce. On average, 87 percent of MCC LPP participants graduate from high school in four years; 86 percent on average enroll in college.

Media Contact:
Hency Yuen-Eng
Marketing and Community Relations

New MCC Program Prepares Students for High-Demand Careers in Fast-Growing Mechatronics Field

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Area employers and faculty members at five SUNY campuses developed curriculum.

BRIGHTON, N.Y. – July 3, 2017 – As advanced manufacturers increasingly rely on state-of-the-art equipment—and on technicians qualified to operate these complex and expensive machines—to compete in the global economy, these employers face a critical demand for workers skilled in ensuring the technologies function properly.

The field of mechatronics—a specialty within advanced manufacturing that incorporates engineering, mechanics, electronics and other technical work—is rapidly growing in the Finger Lakes region. Nearly 170 job openings are anticipated annually for mechatronics-related positions, according to MCC’s 2015 Measuring Middle-Skills Occupational Gaps within the Finger Lakes Regional Economy report.

In collaboration with four SUNY community colleges and industry partners throughout the state, Monroe Community College has developed a mechatronics certificate program to prepare more qualified candidates for regional employers.

The program prepares students for careers as technicians skilled in assembling, maintaining, troubleshooting, repairing and upgrading automated manufacturing production systems. The systems usually consist of hydraulic and pneumatic components, mechanical systems, electronic sensors and motors, and computers that monitor and control the production process. Such machines can be found in automotive, medical, defense, biotechnology and electronics manufacturing environments.

The curriculum covers the electrical operation of industrial production systems, pneumatics, hydraulics, automated systems maintenance, tools used to identify and repair malfunctions, and safe work practices. Students will learn the most current processes and techniques, work on high-tech industry standard equipment purchased through other resources and valued at nearly $500,000, and participate on team projects that simulate industry scenarios.

Graduates can immediately begin their careers as equipment maintenance technicians and industrial equipment maintenance technicians, electro-mechanical technicians and robotics technicians.

Program graduates can also build upon their certificate and apply their earned course credits toward an associate degree in applied integrated technology.

The certificate program was developed with input from area employers and faculty members at MCC and four other SUNY campuses: Fulton-Montgomery, Schenectady, Mohawk Valley and Hudson Valley community colleges. As a result of the multi-campus collaboration, students can pursue a mechatronics certificate at any of these schools. Each certificate is tailored to their region’s specific workforce needs.

The SUNY consortium’s efforts were supported by the U.S. Department of Labor’s $14.6 million Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) grant. The grant enabled the SUNY consortium to work with industry partners to design mechatronics programs and further the capacity of SUNY colleges to offer education and training in this field.

MCC’s mechatronics certificate program was recently approved by the New York State Department of Education and the State University of New York. Classes are being offered at MCC’s Brighton Campus and at Eastman Business Park. Deadline to register for fall 2017 is Aug. 30.

For more information about the program and enrollment, call (585) 292-2200.

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Hency Yuen-Eng
Marketing and Community Relations

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