The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation awarded the Monroe Community College Foundation a $1.5 million grant to help fund a MCC pilot project aimed at increasing the number of area students completing career technical education programs and reversing the skills shortage in western New York.
The grant enables MCC and its project partners to address a persistent, and growing, gap locally and nationally between unfilled jobs and the talent pool available to fill them. In the Finger Lakes region, the advanced manufacturing sector alone has an estimated 2,110 job openings annually; currently over 1,800 of these positions are going unfilled because of a shortage of qualified workers.
The project’s goal is to increase the pool of technicians in Western New York for occupations involving robotics/automation, mechatronics, precision machining, skilled trades and optics fabrication. Career pathways will be aligned with workforce demands of high-need industry sectors in the region.
“Through strategic partnerships and collaboration with educational and industry partners, Monroe Community College has developed an innovative approach in workforce development that we’re excited to support in this pilot phase to learn firsthand its potential for impact,” said Lavea Brachman, vice president of programs.Expanding access to quality CTE programs is a key investment strategy for the Foundation as we look to connect young adults with more opportunities to sustainable career pathways and good-paying jobs.”
Led d by MCC’s Economic and Workforce Development Center, project partners include BOCES, career tech-focused charter high schools, Greece Central School District, Rochester City School District and regional Workforce Investment Boards; partnerships will increase as the project evolves. Working together, the project aims to serve 230 students over the next three years. The grant includes funding for students’ tuition, books and supplies. Funding partners for the pilot project include Monroe County through its LadderzUp program, KeyBank Foundation and the BOCES Technical Career Centers.
“We are grateful to the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation for its support of our vision to create opportunities for economic and social mobility, and in strengthening our region’s economy,” said MCC President Anne M. Kress. “We know that some postsecondary education is needed for meaningful and sustaining employment. MCC plays a central role in removing barriers so that individuals and communities can build stronger futures.”