The opportunities here are tremendous, and so is the demand for workers.
That was the theme of a meeting between faculty members in Onondaga Community College's School of Technology, Engineering & Computing, area high school instructors, and industry representatives. "We wanted high school teachers to see the programs we offer, encourage them to make connections with their schools and students, and for educators to understand the industry need for the students who come through the programs we offer," said Professor Ryan Beckley, Chair of OCC's Automotive Technology degree program.
Beckley and Professor Gino Duca organized the event which was held after hours September 14 in the Whitney Applied Technology Center. Teachers who attended were part of the Master Teacher Program, a statewide network of STEM instructors.
The event began with an overview of the 17 degree and certificate programs offered in the School of Technology, Engineering & Computing, each of which prepares students to enter the workforce and/or prepares them to transfer into four-year degree programs. That was followed by a conversation with industry representatives who discussed the critical need for workers both now and in the future as older employees retire, and a shrinking number of people apply for jobs. One employer mentioned that in past years they would receive 30 applications for every job opening, and now those numbers have reversed. Event attendees were also given a tour of facilities in the School of Technology, Engineering & Computing.
The resounding message was that workers are needed, and OCC can provide the education to help students wind up in rewarding careers. "So many of these jobs are recession proof and artificial intelligence proof," said Beckley. "In 5 to 6 years you can be making $80,000 to $100,000. If your car breaks down, you will always need a person to work on it."