The Biden Administration wants to bring more manufacturing back into the United States in an effort to create employment opportunities here at home with outstanding salaries, and make the nation less vulnerable to global events which cause unexpected shocks, such as Covid. With that overarching goal in mind, Monday the White House hosted the America Advanced Manufacturing Workforce Working Session of the National Economic Council and Domestic Policy. And one of the invited speakers was Onondaga Community College Provost and Senior Vice President Anastasia Urtz. "I was proud to share the important work OCC is doing to meet critical workforce needs in Central New York," Provost Urtz said.
In advance of the working session, Provost Urtz was asked to prepare remarks in relation to three questions. The first question was: "What are three challenges or obstacles your school is facing to meet workforce demands for new or expanding manufacturing (or related) investments in your region or, if working nationally, with partners across the country?" Her remarks focused on the challenge of attracting qualified faculty in OCC's School of Technology, Engineering and Computing where enrollment increased 40% from Fall 2022 to Fall 2023. She discussed the need to support diverse student audiences in a region where the poverty rate is high. And Provost Urtz also remarked on public skepticism in an area where manufacturing job losses have been high as major employers have left the region.
The second question was: "Where do you see opportunities for partnerships between colleges, unions, career and technical education leaders, and related CBOs (community based organizations) to meet the demand for job training in these growing sectors?" The Provost discussed ways in which union and community colleges could work together to both assist with educating students and ensure students are aware of the multiple pathways to employment and career advancement in the manufacturing industry. She also remarked the federal government could assist by increasing funding for students in non-credit programs in advanced manufacturing, coordinating the retraining of underemployed workers, and creating messaging which can be tailored to highlight local opportunities in advanced manufacturing.
Finally, the Provost was asked to respond to the following question: "Are there community and technical college job training programs for specific occupations or skill areas that unions could help support, including potential new occupations or skills for new investments in your area? This could include support through connections to potential faculty or partnerships on curriculum development, for example." Provost Urtz commented on the need for a dramatic increase in electrical workers, welders, HVAC technicians, construction workers, and supply chain-related employees as Micron and related companies move into the area. The population increase will result in an increased demand for housing and services.
"It was a great privilege to meet with executive branch officials, labor organizations, and community college colleagues from across the country to discuss strategies for building the nation's high tech workforce," said Provost Urtz.