MVCC: Gateway to great careers

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Transformation. Opportunity. Innovation. These are the hallmarks of our work at Mohawk Valley Community College as we implement programs that can help the people of our community acquire the training and education needed to participate in our region’s growing economy.

Last year, we were fortunate to be awarded a Job Corps Scholars grant from the U.S. Department of Labor. I won’t repeat the pages of rules and regulations, but in essence, MVCC is now part of a national experiment to see whether community colleges can help high-risk, high-needs young people who would normally go to Job Corps residential centers to be trained for emerging jobs, but at a lower cost. Our program pays tuition, compresses training into about eight months, and connects young people who meet the federal income requirements with high-growth technical careers. We think it is a great opportunity for those we can enroll through this grant.

We were excited to participate, because we have been shaping our technical programs to feed the growing number of employers in our area who are in need of skilled technicians – employers such as Cree and Briggs and Stratton.
As we rolled out the project, one of those wonderful complications arose.  Demand has far exceeded expectations. We are being deluged with applications from young people who are outside of the initial grant’s target area of Utica, selected to conform with federal guidelines. Federal rules are federal rules, and given the needs in Utica, our grant will keep its focus on our refugee, minority and other high-needs youth who are the workforce of the future.

But we are not going to leave it at that. No way. As that grant-funded project goes forward, we are working with community partners to piece together the funding that will allow us to replicate the Job Corps Scholars project in other areas where there is a demand for the programs that are connecting students with great job openings. That takes a lot of Zoom meetings and phone calls and a lot of creativity, but we are confident that we will soon be helping young people from Rome and other communities enter these good-paying jobs after providing them with the high-quality instruction that is a hallmark of MVCC.

The Job Corps Scholars program is an exciting venture, but its roots are not in a single federal grant, but in our commitment that MVCC will continue its role as the gateway to a great career in the community. The workforce of the future begins its path to excellence here. That’s not just our tradition at MVCC. That’s our promise.

About MVCC: Mohawk Valley Community College, established in 1946, is New York’s first community college with a mission to provide accessible, high-quality educational opportunities for everyone. With campuses in Utica and Rome, MVCC is the region’s primary provider of college education, offering 90 degree and certificate options for more than 6,000 full- and part-time students. MVCC also serves an additional 6,000 people through its corporate and community education programs.

NOTE: Randall VanWagoner is the president of Mohawk Valley
Community College. For more information, visit
mvcc.edu.

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