UTICA — The Advanced Institute for Manufacturing (AIM) at Mohawk Valley Community College (MVCC) offers a host of services to manufacturing businesses within the six-county Mohawk Valley region as a New York Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) center.
“We are one of 11 MEP centers located in the state of New York,” says AIM Director Cory Albrecht. The institute serves Fulton, Herkimer, Montgomery, Oneida, and Schoharie counties as a centralized access point for manufacturing and technology assistance. “Our mission is to support small and mid-sized manufacturing in the Mohawk Valley region, helping them grow their business and become more profitable,” he notes.
Some of the programming topics AIM covers to help those businesses include lean manufacturing, lean six sigma, cybersecurity, risk assessment and training, and quality management systems, to name a few.
“We have a pretty comprehensive program for mid-level managers and supervisors,” Albrecht contends.
AIM also offers a lot of technical training in areas like welding, CNC machining, mechanical, electrical, and HVAC in conjunction with MVCC. As the only MEP located at a community college, AIM is able to access for-credit programming on the college side and bring that training right to a manufacturer’s doorstep, Albrecht notes. In that way, AIM helped companies like Oriskany Manufacturing and Bartell Machinery Systems, both of which needed qualified welders.
Businesses struggle because that trained workforce doesn’t really exist anymore, Albrecht says. “These companies are forced to really change their way of thinking and change their approach to workforce development.” Working with AIM is one way in which companies can get workers the training they need to fill those roles, he says.
While AIM continually offers a mix of programming, Albrecht says the institute works hard to provide companies with what they need. “Every business that we go into, they ask us for workers,” he says, so workforce development remains a dominant area of programming.
In that regard, AIM is collaborating closely with school districts in the region to promote jobs in manufacturing. Locally, that can include jobs at Wolfspeed, Danfoss, and Indium Corporation.
AIM has arranged trips for local high-school counselors, principals, and even superintendents to visit those companies and learn first-hand the types of jobs that are available.
“We have to give them the knowledge and create the awareness of what the Mohawk Valley region needs,” Albrecht says.
AIM also recently visited Rome Free Academy with FuzeHub and the Expertise Project to give a workforce presentation to more than 100 technology students. AIM also gifted the school with virtual reality (VR) headsets and no-cost licenses for career-exploration programming. Albrecht says AIM was able to make videos about what it’s like to work at local manufacturing companies like Fiber Instrument Sales Inc. and FX Matt Brewing Co. Students can explore welder, machinist, quality engineer, and other jobs with the VR headsets.
It’s all about providing information and also breaking down barriers that may prevent people from pursing manufacturing jobs, Albrecht says. For many, the perception of a manufacturing job is likely significantly skewed from the reality, he notes. Rather than a low-paying job in a dirty factory, the reality is much different in many of today’s manufacturing positions. “You wouldn’t believe what some of these advanced-manufacturing jobs pay,” he says.
New York state currently has more than 9,500 manufacturing jobs posted on Indeed.com, Albrecht says, and the average annual manufacturing compensation in the state is $80,394.
While AIM is able to help almost any manufacturing business, it specializes in microelectronics and semiconductors, food and beverage, metal and wood, and distribution.
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