COBLESKILL, N.Y. — A Diesel Technology and Power Machinery Training grant award of more than $1.9 million from the US Department of Labor is reinforcing SUNY Cobleskill’s ability to develop skilled members of the workforce, and enhance opportunities for students. The grant will support initiatives in the College’s Agricultural Engineering Department, and aims to fortify the equipment distributor technician employment pipeline by establishing partnerships linking employers with technical educators and students. The resulting network will increase job visibility, create new opportunities for dealers to sponsor students, and lead to an overall improvement in the quality and quantity of Associate-degree graduates qualified to pursue equipment distributor technician positions.
The grant will specifically allow SUNY Cobleskill to purchase and outfit a mobile training unit to be used principally for recruitment and skills development. Funds will also support three new positions, including a project director, outreach instructor, and technical support technician. Projects stemming from the grant will target three distinct audiences: equipment dealers, technology instructors, and high school students. Commencing at the start of this month, the three year grant ends in September 2022.
“This award further secures SUNY Cobleskill’s position at the center of workforce development, in an industry in which it is essential to develop qualified professionals in educational settings” says College President Marion A. Terenzio. “By establishing new opportunities for students, we are better-preparing them to achieve immediate and long-lasting success. We thank the US Department of Labor for its support in allowing us to commence the initiatives that will help us reach new learners in vital sectors of the agricultural engineering field.”
The country’s heavy equipment distribution industry loses more than $2 billion each year as a result of dealers’ inability to find and retain workers possessing necessary skills and trainings, reflecting a significant skills gap. Associated Equipment Distributors (AED), representing over 800 companies, found in a 2019 survey of members that there were more than 1,800 technician position openings in the Northeast. SUNY Cobleskill is an AED-accredited diesel technology and agriculture power machinery education provider, with approximately 50 percent of students entering the College’s Diesel Technology Program sponsored by a licensed dealer. Institutional data indicate students with a dealer sponsorship have a higher rate of college completion and post-degree employment; in the past five years, applications and enrollment in the heavy equipment technician programs have steadily increased.
The College will host individual conferences convening equipment dealers, and technical educators, to inform both groups of the upcoming projects aimed at workforce development that this grant award supports. SUNY Cobleskill will also facilitate meetings, trainings, and outreach events with technology instructors, students, and equipment dealers – including onsite technical trainings using its mobile training unit. Additionally, SUNY Cobleskill will produce an equipment technician curriculum to disseminate to New York State technology instructors; secondary school students will receive this education and training at their school and/or BOCES.
SUNY Cobleskill’s grant award is part of the US Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration’s demonstration of workforce development efforts, through the Workforce Opportunity for Rural Communities (WORC) grant initiative. The 18 recipients are accepting funds that are awarded in collaboration with the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), and Delta Regional Authority (DRA). SUNY Cobleskill is among ARC grantees. A version of this release is also available here.
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