As part of the federal $500 million Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training Grant, Cayuga Community College was awarded $629,306 to develop a new advanced manufacturing project in the plastics industry for all of New York State and support several other workforce development initiatives. Cayuga’s award was part of a successful $14.6 million State University of New York grant application.
“This multi-million federal investment is a game-changer that will connect unemployed New Yorkers with the state’s top employers that are ready to hire skilled workers in their own backyard,” said U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer, who announced the grant funding during a conference call on September 19. “As I toured the state this year and met with business leaders across upstate, company after company told me that they were ready to hire workers, but that there was a mismatch between the workers out there and the skills these companies needed. This grant speaks directly to that need.”
The funds will enable Cayuga to develop a program that will meet the needs of the plastics industry and prepare students for entry or advancement at such companies as Currier Plastics, Tessy Plastics, and Bo-Mer Plastics in the Auburn area.
“Receiving this grant validates the College’s planning and hard work in connecting with our industry partners in the community,” said College President Daniel P. Larson. “We have met with government and business leaders throughout the region to help us develop the academic and workforce development programming that would make the biggest impact on our regional economy. We thank Senator Schumer and all of our elected officials who supported this grant and shared our vision for creating a workforce with relevant and employable skills tailored to our local employers.”
Cayuga is creating the only professional development and training program for the plastics industry in all of New York State that meets the National Alliance for Manufacturing standards. The College will work closely with community college partners and the plastic industry to close skill gaps in the workforce and grow a labor pool of plastics professionals.
“We are extremely excited to be awarded this grant as part of the SUNY Advanced Manufacturing initiative,” said Carla DeShaw, dean of community education and workforce development who served as Cayuga’s lead on the grant. “This grant will allow Cayuga to create an advanced manufacturing lab focused on plastics technologies and will allow the College to develop new noncredit and credit programs in plastics. With the current expansion plans of two plastics companies in Auburn, the timing could not be better.”
In addition to the plastics manufacturing, the grant will also support the development of a one-year technical certificate program in precision machining. In addition, the College will work on developing prior learning assessments that enables students to earn academic credits for college-level learning acquired through life or work experience. The College will institute other assessments to ensure that credits earned are transferrable to other SUNY institutions, the skills students learn align with work readiness, and students learn about other professional standards, including OSHA and Six Sigma.
“Through our involvement and that of our SUNY partners, we expect to make a noticeable contribution to the economic vibrancy of New York State, and particularly Upstate New York,” Dr. Larson said. “We take great pride in our ability to be this kind of resource for our local plastics companies as well as companies across the state.”