Orange County Partnership - News

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Orange County Partnership and SUNY Orange Look To Enhance, Create Workforce Training Programs

With existing and new businesses in Orange County reporting the difficulty in attracting qualified workers for their operations, the Orange County Partnership has initiated discussions with top officials with SUNY Orange to expand its workforce development programs to help meet the need.


SUNY Chancellor John King in a visit to SUNY Orange’s Middletown campus on April 18, noted that SUNY is bolstering its workforce development programs as a means to deal with declining enrollments.


“There has really been a national phenomenon of declining enrollment in community colleges. At the same time, there are individual programs where there is tremendous demand; nursing is one good example. We have a huge shortage of nurses in the state as well as nationally. Many of our nursing programs have wait lists so we know if we can grow those programs where there is student demand we can grow enrollment,” SUNY Chancellor King said in a Mid-Hudson News report. “We also know we have two million New Yorkers who have some credits and no degree. We need to help those students to come back to college to finish their degree.”


Conor Eckert, Senior Development Officer and Vice President of Business Attraction for the Orange County Partnership, said the Partnership has held some preliminary discussions with SUNY Orange President Dr. Kris Young about offering additional programs and certificates to train workers for jobs in a host of growth industries in Orange County.


“I came back from the Site Selectors Guild (Annual Conference) in Texas a few weeks ago and the topic at the conference, other than infrastructure and sites, was workforce,” Eckert said. “Every community is feeling a crunch. The communities that are creative are winning the day and will win the day in economic development.” In the economic development community, many are now looking to their local community colleges to help address the workforce shortage.


“We at the (Orange County) Partnership see SUNY Orange and the consortium of Hudson Valley community colleges as these nimble purveyors of talent,” Eckert said. “They can respond to the private sector demand. There is less educational bureaucracy and we have a dynamic leader in Dr. Young who is prioritizing workforce and doing a great job in executing the strategy.”


He said that in years to come, SUNY Orange will play a key role in filling the workforce gap by providing either short-term micro credentials or new programming geared to the county’s growth sectors.


“I think we are going to be on the cutting edge of long-term workforce solutions with SUNY Orange at the center,” Eckert added.


The discussions between the Orange County Partnership and SUNY Orange have centered on the innovation industries—manufacturing, semiconductor supply chain and light industrial markets.


"Attracting businesses and industry to Orange County, while invigorating economic development and expansion, requires many things, including educational programs, skills trainings, and employee certifications,” Young said. “SUNY Orange has the ability to partner with businesses big and small to develop necessary programming, but we can also connect workers with existing trainings".


The State University of New York has also embarked on key workforce development efforts in some key sectors—health care and cannabis.


In late March, the New York State Senate and Assembly passed legislation that will help address New York’s nursing shortage. S.447C (Stavisky) / A.3706A (Lupardo) will permit nursing programs to provide up to one-third of a student’s clinical work in a high-tech simulation environment. New York is projected to face a shortage of almost 40,000 nurses by 2030. Nursing programs across New York are ready to educate the next generation of nurses to resolve this shortage, but they face a major obstacle: a lack of quality clinical placements in hospital settings that nurses must complete before receiving their license. These programs are turning away qualified applicants because of the shortage of clinical training placements. Without enough high-quality clinical placements, nursing programs across the state cannot expand to meet the demand from prospective students to fill the state’s nursing needs.


Permitting nursing programs to utilize simulation-based clinical education for one-third of clinical hours will enable nursing students to receive the training they need and nursing programs to expand to meet demand.


The Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities (CICU), which represents New York’s 100+ private, nonprofit colleges and universities, the City University of New York (CUNY), and the State University of New York (SUNY) worked in partnership with the New York State Legislature and the New York State Education Department to draft the legislation.


SUNY Chancellor John B. King, Jr. said, “New York faces a nursing shortage that threatens public health and limits workforce opportunity. SUNY strongly supports this important legislation to improve access to modern, high-quality clinical training so more students can complete their degree and become nurses—including at the more than 70 nursing programs across SUNY campuses. My thanks to Senate Higher Education Chair Toby Ann Stavisky and Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo for sponsoring this critical legislation and to Assembly Higher Education Chair Pat Fahy for helping to champion it—and not a moment too soon.”


Last year, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced that SUNY and CUNY community colleges will receive $5 million in funding to support the creation or enhancement of short-term credential programs or course offerings that provide pathways to employment in the cannabis industry. The funding supports programs that will create or enhance non-degree and degree-eligible courses and programs, stackable credentials, and/or micro credentials that quickly address local employer skill needs within the cannabis sector, a projected multi-billion-dollar industry with tens of thousands of jobs. Selected campuses must also partner with local employers in the cannabis industry and receive their input on curriculum development. 


This cannabis credentialing program aligns with Gov. Hochul's continued commitment to delivering new employment opportunities to New Yorkers, especially those from historically underserved communities, while also supplying local employers with a highly skilled, locally sourced talent pool. Colleges will serve social equity candidates as defined by the Office of Cannabis Management in their local communities. 


SUNY Orange was one of three selected SUNY campuses that will receive $1 million in state funding. Orange County Community College serves as lead campus with partners Dutchess Community College, Rockland Community College, Sullivan County Community College, Ulster County Community College, and Westchester Community College. It is estimated to include over 200 participants. 


SUNY has a significant portfolio dedicated to workforce development. Community colleges offer credit and non-credit training to prepare workers to enter or grow in positions within their region.


Since 2016 the SUNY Office of Community Colleges and the Education Pipeline has received more than $58 million in funding from New York State and federal grant programs to support workforce development initiatives. More than 615,000 individuals pursued non-credit training at SUNY community colleges between 2016 and 2021 in training areas including business/industry training, professional instruction, personal development/interest instruction and remedial instruction. Also, between 2016 and 2021, more than 250,000 students completed credit-bearing occupations programs at community colleges.


According to the SUNY website, corporate training covers a wide array of subject areas including: Communications, Computer Literacy, Customer Service, Digital Technology, Human Resources, Leadership, Lean Six Sigma, Project Management, Skilled Trades, Supervisory & Management Skills, Team Building And Workplace Safety.