Local manufacturers are hopeful that a $2.9 million federal grant will help produce more qualified job applicants for hard-to-fill positions, such as machinist, tool and die maker, welder and quality assurance specialist.
Officials said the U.S. Department of Labor grant, won by Suffolk County Community College in July, will go toward new training programs and internships at local plants over the next four years.
Troy Tucker, the college’s associate dean for grants development, said some of the funds also will be used to prepare the unemployed and underemployed for jobs in health care information and cybersecurity. Up to 145 students will be readied for manufacturing occupations; 212 will go into either health care or cybersecurity.
Regina Vieweg, chief executive of Check-Mate Industries, a stampings and components manufacturer in West Babylon, said, “We’re excited about this program because we’ve lost a whole generation of tool and die makers. . . . We need them, and this program will help.”
She joined about 60 business executives, educators and economic development officials last week to hear how SCCC intends to use the largest federal grant it’s ever received.
John Lombardo, the college’s associate vice president for workforce and economic development, said he is seeking feedback from manufacturers about the types of skills they are looking for in job applicants.
He also said he is establishing committees to help develop training curricula in tool and die making, quality control, human resources, cost estimating and electronics.
Lombardo, who runs SCCC’s Advanced Manufacturing Training Center, said the training is generally free to students. “We provide them with a foundation in manufacturing so that they are ready to learn in the work environment,” he said, adding the center offers certificate programs in a number of factory occupations.
“We can help a displaced worker up their skills at no cost to them or anyone else,” Lombardo said. “Someone can get back into the community with additional skills.”
The center has trained between 300 and 400 people since it started in 2005. The new grant comes from fees paid for H1B visas that allow foreigners to work in the United States, not taxpayer dollars.
Joseph P. Bryant, manufacturing director at Precipart in East Farmingdale, said he’s hired five graduates of the SCCC training center. Precipart makes gears, motion-control equipment and precision components.
“Manufacturing is alive and well on Long Island, and a necessity,” Bryant said. “You can earn a good living as a machinist. . . . The grant will allow us and others to have more interns because the money will be there to pay them.”