Locate Finger Lakes Business Journal

Finger Lakes Community College is Training the Workforce of Today and Tomorrow

FLCC 2019 Nursing Advancement Ceremony

FLCC 2019 Nursing Advancement Ceremony

This is the second story in a two-part series highlighting the impact of community colleges on the Finger Lakes economy. Today, Locate Finger Lakes profiles Finger Lakes Community College. Read the first story about Cayuga Community College here.

Last December, the Sands Family Foundation donated $3 million to Finger Lakes Community College to double its nursing program. It was the largest gift in the school’s history. It may also turn out to be the most impactful.

The coronavirus pandemic has drawn increased attention to the need for skilled health care workers.

According to the New York State Labor Department, the need for registered nurses in the Finger Lakes region is projected to rise from 13,250 in 2016 to 15,660 by 2026, an 18.2 percent increase. The need for LPNs is projected to increase from 4,270 to 4,850 over the same period, an increase of 13.6 percent.

The expansion of FLCC’s nursing program will enable the college to gradually double the number of students it accepts into its registered nursing (RN) associate degree program. The college will also launch a licensed practical nursing (LPN) certificate program.

Canandaigua-based Thompson Health will partner with FLCC to provide instructors for both the RN and LPN programs.

It’s just one example of how the college partners with the community to fulfill local workforce needs.

“Nurses provide the foundation for the excellent health care we enjoy in the Finger Lakes region,” said FLCC President Robert Nye. “We are looking forward to being able to say ‘yes’ to many more of our nursing applicants, starting in 2021. This means more students finding good jobs when they finish here.”

A new wing on FLCC’s main campus in Canandaigua—to be named the Sands Center for Allied Health—will include a lab for instruction with holography. FLCC is piloting the use of holographic visors that allow students to view three-dimensional images of organs and systems. It is among a small group of institutions—and the only community college—working with Case Western Reserve University to pilot the emerging technology.

Recently, a health care workers’ union hired FLCC to provide online training to home health aides in the New York City area so those workers could fill critical nurse assistant roles in COVID-19 units.

“We are so pleased that we are able to fill a need during a crisis and provide these workers with a path to advancement in the health care industry,” said Nye. “As soon as we heard from SEIU, our team went to work, shortening what is normally a 16-week course development process down to two weeks.”

Narrowing the manufacturing skills gap

The coronavirus pandemic has also highlighted the ingenuity of American manufacturing. Several Finger Lakes-area manufacturers have adjusted their operations to produce face masks and shields, ventilator parts, hand sanitizer, and other products for medical and front line workers.

Like health care, talent for the manufacturing sector is also in high demand.

In 2009, recognizing the need to do more to ensure a steady supply of skilled manufacturing workers in the Finger Lakes, solenoid manufacturer G.W. Lisk reached out to FLCC.

The two collaborated to identify the competencies entry-level workers needed—from technical math and robotics to the ability to work on a team. Then, they created a curriculum to meet those needs.

The resulting six-month advanced manufacturing machinist training program launched in 2010. Since then, every student has graduated with a waiting full-time job.

G.W. Lisk, based in Clifton Springs, subsequently shared the coursework with ITT Goulds Pumps in Seneca Falls. The machinist training program now runs each year from September to March at G.W. Lisk, and from March to September at ITT Goulds Pumps.

“Suffice it to say, we would have a tough time without this program,” said Edward Maier, president and CEO of G.W. Lisk, a leading manufacturer of precision components for the aerospace, defense, railway, oil and gas, and other industries.

“Community colleges play an important role in developing targeted programs that will fill the workforce needs in the communities they serve,” said Nye. “I never get tired of hearing about the people whose lives are changed when they get a meaningful, well-paying job.”

FLCC’s Instrumentation and Control Technologies program was developed in collaboration with local high-tech companies and the Finger Lakes Advanced Manufacturers’ Enterprise, or FAME. The program trains students in emerging technologies and includes a paid co-op at an area high-tech company. Many students are offered jobs while still completing their coursework.

G.W. Lisk and ITT Goulds Pumps have participated in this program too, as have Wayne County-based companies Optimax Systems and OptiPro Systems, and Ontario County-based companies Surmotech and New Scale Technologies, among several others.

Cultivating talent for the wine and food industry

FLCC’s viticulture and wine technology degree program is another example of the college’s community and industry cooperation.

The degree program is the only one of its kind in the Northeast. Developed with the guidance of local winery owners, Cornell Cooperative Extension and others, it combines courses in the science of winemaking with hands-on experience in commercial vineyards.

The program is housed at the FLCC Viticulture and Wine Center, located at Cornell AgriTech in Geneva. This strategic location enables future wine industry professionals to study where some of the most advanced agricultural research is taking place.

Cornell AgriTech is the applied research arm of Cornell University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Last summer, FLCC renewed its agreement with Cornell to provide students with additional hands-on learning experiences, such as the opportunity to participate in research projects.

In another successful collaboration, FLCC’s culinary arts degree program was developed in partnership with New York Kitchen (formerly the New York Wine & Culinary Center) in Canandaigua.

A U.S. Army colonel turned college president

FLCC President Dr. Robert Nye

FLCC President Dr. Robert Nye

Dr. Robert Nye was named the fifth president of Finger Lakes Community College in 2016, following a distinguished military and academic career.

He served in the U.S. Army for 30 years, retiring as a colonel in 2013. In one of his most high profile roles, Nye was chief strategist for the deputy commanding general of U.S. Forces in Iraq during the Iraq War.

Nye’s academic career began at Cornell University in 1992, where he taught ROTC as an assistant professor of military science. After completing his doctoral studies at the University of Kansas, he joined the faculty at the United States Army War College in 2007 and was named deputy provost in 2012.

As FLCC president, Nye also serves on the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council, Finger Lakes Workforce Investment Board, and the boards of CMAC and the Canandaigua YMCA.

Driving economic impact in the region

Middle-skill jobs, which require more than a high school diploma but less than a four-year degree, make up the largest part of New York’s labor market.

FLCC is therefore uniquely positioned to help align the workforce with employers’ needs.

Finger Lakes Community College is part of SUNY – The State University of New York, the nation’s largest comprehensive public university system. FLCC is sponsored by Ontario County and also serves Seneca, Wayne and Yates counties. In addition to its main campus in Canandaigua, it has campus centers in Geneva, Victor, and Newark.

As the college works to support the education and training needs of more traditional industries central to the regional economy, it has also launched degree programs in new and emerging industries, including gaming and cannabis.

It is also doing its part to support the region’s next generation of innovators as home to one of the first chapters of the Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!) in the Finger Lakes. The program gives middle and high school students the opportunity to develop and launch their own business. Locally, the program is a partnership with Locate Finger Lakes, and is sponsored by Lyons National Bank.

“The YEA! program is a wonderful way to provide young students in our community an opportunity to learn, grow and experience the excitement of entrepreneurial thought, and develop real businesses in our region,” said Nye, a member of the Locate Finger Lakes Board of Directors.

Locate Finger Lakes is very grateful for Dr. Nye’s leadership in establishing the YEA! program and for his service as a member of the Locate Finger Lakes Board of Directors,” said Chairman Mike Nozzolio.

Like colleges nationwide, FLCC had to quickly adapt to transition students to online learning as a result of COVID-19.

Nye called it a “herculean effort,” and praised the work of his team, faculty and staff.

“If you look at all the things we’ve done to teach students in a brand new way, it has been nothing short of phenomenal,” said Nye. “There are opportunities for us to do great things as we come out of this event, so that we remain the college of choice for people. We will continue to do what we’re supposed to do: serve our community and our students.”

Finger Lakes Community College

Canandaigua Campus
3325 Marvin Sands Drive
Canandaigua, NY 14424

Other campus centers are in Geneva, Victor and Newark.

Krista Gleason is a contributor to the Locate Finger Lakes Business Journal. She is a freelance writer and owner of Gleason Writes in the beautiful Finger Lakes.

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