Executive Suite: John Lombardo
Before setting up a Long Island location, manufacturers often ask Empire State Development if the region has the skilled workers they'll need. If there are skills gaps, John Lombardo, 64, vice president of workforce and economic development for Suffolk County Community College, develops training programs to help fill them.
The programs lure industry, create jobs and advancement opportunities, and keep 90 percent of those skilled workers on Long Island, he says.
What training is in hottest demand?
Machinists and welders. On the soft skills side, the communications courses are the most popular. We're starting to see more inquiries about sales training, and that's an indication the economy's getting better.
Can businesses contact you to develop programs?
Yes, if there are enough workers for it to be cost-effective. Typically, it's about eight workers.
Since 2006, your office has snagged $9.7 million in grants for manufacturing training. What's the key to getting grants?
[We] find out, "For you to take your company from where it is to where it wants to be in five years, what do you need?" Once you knew that, you could write the grant specific to the needs of the region. The training has to be relevant.
What do you see for the future?
Improved energy products in the HVAC area, improved refrigerants, improved bio-chemicals used in heating systems. So the technician training for that is going to be big over the next five years.
What would you advise a student when choosing a program?
Do a Google search and learn a little bit about the industry before you choose a program. Learn about its history and its potential sustainability. A lot of these technologies change. Ask: What kind of certification am I going to need to maintain my status?
What's the biggest factor in helping students succeed?
Building confidence in the worker that they can do it. Confidence building is very important to manufacturing. If I keep making something the wrong way [because] my boss said to make it that way, I'll keep making it that way. But when you have confidence and can [tell the boss], "If I measure these two fields, the tolerances are wrong. That part is going to be wrong every time," now all of a sudden, the boss will listen. We do training where we actually include a bad part on purpose to see who's going to step up to the plate and say, "You know what, John? I can't make it this way. It's wrong. It's not going to fit into the next part."
What do you do to unwind?
Play with my dog, Mason, a Maltipoo.
WHAT IT DOES: Provide training solutions for companies that determine their skill gaps.
EMPLOYEES: 25 full time; 12 part time.
ROLES THEY PLAY: Administrative, instructional, corporate sales and customer service, and implementation of federal and state grants.
REVENUE: Annual budget for entire college: $193.7 million