Starting a Career in Manufacturing

Instructor Bill Cullen works with students in the Apprenticeship Accelerator Career Training program.

This is the first day in a new career for eleven former OCC students. Last Friday they completed the ten-week-long Apprenticeship Accelerator Career Training (AACT) program which prepared them for positions in manufacturing. Today marks the beginning of their 4-year apprenticeship which comes with benefits and built-in pay increases. “I’m excited. I’m looking forward to meeting my team and see where I’m going to be placed,” said Nathan Curran. He’s a 28-year-old United States Army veteran who was in between jobs when he heard about the program and decided to give it a try. Now he’s an employee of Bartell Machinery Systems in Rome. “I enjoy working with my hands and now I’m going to make things that make things.”

Nathan Curran works in the Mechanical Technology Lab on the OCC campus.

Curran is one of eleven students who completed the program. Each of them was hired by one of five employee partners: Bartell Machinery Systems in Rome, Kilian Manufacturing in Syracuse, Selflock Screw Products in Syracuse, PPC in East Syracuse and Stickley in Manlius. “The employers were very active participants,” said Mike Metzgar, Associate Vice President of Economic & Workforce Development. “They were here almost every week, meeting with students and speaking with them about which skills were important. It really took us to a new level. I’ve been in Workforce Development for 20 years and this is the most excited I’ve been about any of the work we’ve done.”

The instructor sharing his knowledge with students on a daily basis was Bill Cullen who began working in manufacturing 40 years ago. He structured every day like a work day: in at 8 a.m., a break schedule similar to that of a workplace and out by 4:30 p.m. “They were held to accountable work standards. This was very challenging and the best thing I’ve ever done. It was a great opportunity for each of the students,” said Cullen.

Mike Metzgar

Another AACT program will be announced soon. Curran advises anyone interested to pursue it. “If you’re on the fence it’s definitely something you should give a shot. It’s eye-opening and gives you a lot of self-awareness.”

The AACT program is the product of a unique collaboration coordinated by OCC’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development. Training is provided by OCC with additional apprenticeship, project and employer support provided by the American Apprenticeship Initiative, Manufacturers Association of Central New York and Jobs for the Future.

Manufacturing a Nursing Degree

Alex Onufriychuk at work as a machinist at DARCO Manufacturing.His employer is paying half of his tuition as he pursues a Nursing degree at OCC.

Alex Onufriychuk always dreamed of a career in a medical field. His employer, DARCO Manufacturing, is helping him achieve his dream. “I’m very grateful for the opportunity they gave me to work and go to college. I’m very thankful,” he said.

Onufriychuk, whose real first name is Oleksandr, grew up in the Ukraine where entry into a medical profession was extremely difficult. He chose instead to earn a master’s degree in economics and work as an economist. He enjoyed it but the medical profession was always his passion.

In 2007, Onufriychuk immigrated to the United States. Shortly after arriving he began working at DARCO Manufacturing as a machinist. DARCO is a Syracuse-based precision machining services company which provides production machining, CNC machining and machined parts to its customers. “When I came to the United States my English level was not good. I decided to start a new career and take my time before I participated in college here.”

During his first several years in Central New York Onufriychuk became an American citizen, married and he and his wife became parents to a beautiful baby girl. Eventually his grasp of the English language improved to the point where he felt he was ready to go to college and pursue a Nursing degree. DARCO offered to pay 50% of his tuition even though his career goal wasn’t related to manufacturing. “When people feel they are valued in a way that validates something that is at the core of who they are as a person, it has a ripple effect on the work they are doing,” said Melissa Menon, DARCO’s Talent and Community Engagement Manager. “It affects the way they approach their work here and how well they do in their coursework.”

In 2015, Onufriychuk began taking classes part time at Onondaga Community College. He focused on Nursing program prerequisites. DARCO tailored his work schedule around his education, providing him the opportunity to continue to support his family while pursuing his dream. “I’m very grateful, especially for General Manager Laura Miller. She works with me when I need a day off for appointments or school. I make up the hours and get the work done when I can.”

Today the 35-year-old Onufriychuk’s coursework has advanced to the point where he only works at DARCO two days a week. He is on track to complete his Nursing degree in two years.

Supporting Workforce Development

Onondaga Community College received a $220,000 grant from JPMorgan Chase. A ceremonial check was presented during a press conference June 10 in the Whitney Applied Technology Center. The funding will support the College’s Workforce Development efforts, specifically in the training of students for employment in the agribusiness and food processing industry. The College is partnering with employers, nonprofit organizations and New York State to develop the program.

This generous grant from JPMorgan Chase is part of its $1 million commitment to supporting advanced manufacturing training programs in the upstate regions of Syracuse, Albany, Buffalo and Rochester, and part of a much broader $250 million commitment to address the skills gap in communities around the world. Goals of JPMorgan Chase’s plan include:

  • Building a demand-driven system through cross-sector gatherings to encourage collaboration, share findings and formulate strategies.
  • Investing in the best training and making targeted investments to strengthen and scale the most effective workforce training programs.
  • Relying on data and sponsoring a data-driven analysis of skills demand to supply gaps in local markets.

The focus of this project on the agribusiness and food processing industry is in response to a workforce demand in a growing sector of the economy. The five-county region of Central New York (CNY) includes 3,585 farm businesses generating products with a market value of $673 million. Agricultural commodity sales in New York State (NYS) increased by 20% from 2007-2012 to over $5.4 billion annually and by 21% in CNY during the same period. NYS is a leader in agricultural production of apples (2nd in the U.S.); feed corn (2nd); sweet corn (4th); fruits, tree nuts, and berries, (6th); and vegetables for market (8th). NYS is the nation’s third largest producer of fluid milk and commodity crops and was the nation’s top yogurt producer in 2012, 2013 and 2014. In addition, there are more than 200 food processing companies in CNY, including a growing list of farm breweries and distilleries producing beer, hard cider, wine, and spirits.

In October 2014, OCC was awarded a $2.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor as part of the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) program in support of this effort.

“We are thrilled to be selected by JPMorgan Chase to receive this important grant funding. Through our Workforce Development program we are committed to responding to the needs of both local employers and workers and aligning the needs of both as we work to advance the economic vitality and growth of the Central New York region. Having this support in place will make a significant impact upon our mission,” said OCC President Dr. Casey Crabill.

“All of us on the Board of Trustees are keenly aware of OCC’s critical role in the community and the opportunity we have to make Central New York a better place for all of us. We applaud JPMorgan Chase for being our partners in this effort through their very generous grant. We are very fortunate to have their support and thank them for it,” said Margaret M. “Meg” O’Connell, Chair, OCC Board of Trustees.

“At JPMorgan Chase, we believe we have a fundamental responsibility to use our resources and expertise to help the communities where we live and work. We are proud to be partnering with Onondaga Community College to provide training to folks in Syracuse that will fill important jobs within the advanced manufacturing sector,” said Mark Allen, Upstate New York Region Executive, Commercial Banking at JPMorgan Chase.

“I am grateful to community partners JPMorgan Chase and Onondaga Community College for their ongoing support of transformative solutions to impact both employers and un-and-underemployed residents in our community,” said Robert Simpson, president of CenterState CEO. “This new investment will dovetail with CenterState CEO’s Work Train initiative, which will align with and support the college’s training programs, helping to develop a manufacturing workforce pipeline in the region.”

OCC is working to ensure the programs it develops are well-aligned with employer needs by using the DACUM (Developing A CurriculUM) process. After a half-century of use, DACUM is widely accepted as the best methodology for creating competency-based and employer-driven training to build workforce capacity. Many state agencies, including the IRS, Texas Occupational Standards Committee, and national, international, and multi-billion dollar corporations, including AT&T, Boeing, Disney, Energizer and General Motors use DACUM to establish effective training programs with superior results.

Several leading employers in the Agribusiness and Food Industry sector have committed to the project including: AGRANA Fruit US, Inc., American Food & Vending, Byrne Dairy, Giovanni Foods, G&C Foods, HP Hood, Food Bank of Central New York and Tops Friendly Markets. Employer partners are committed to identifying and validating competencies, validating curriculum, promoting the program, providing content experts and instructors, identifying career pathways, hiring qualified candidates upon completion and participating in program assessment.

Non-profit partners include CenterState CEO, a 2000-member, business leadership organization; Work Train, a collaborative led by CenterState to link low-income individuals with job-training; the Workforce Development Institute; the Southwest Community Center; Catholic Charities; Syracuse Educational Opportunity Center; the Manufacturer’s Association of Central New York and the Onondaga Farm Bureau. The public workforce investment system is represented by CNY Works and JOBSplus!

Partners in the agribusiness program include SUNY Environmental Science and Forestry, SUNY Morrisville and Cornell University.FEATURE JPMorgan Chase check presentation