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Bridging the gap between high-tech education and high-tech jobs

By JOLEEN FERRIS

Local unemployment hovers at or near double digits; 11% in Herkimer County, 9.5% in Oneida County. Yet some local employers will tell you they're hiring, almost all the time.

"Right now, if you check with HR, there's eight positions avaliable right now for skilled folks on different types of equipment so it's an ongoing search for us," says Brett Milligan, CEO of Sovena USA.

U.S. Senator Charles Schumer visited MVCC in Utica today to talk about closing this 'skills gap'.

"The America Works Act provides incentives for the way we direct federal funds to three outdated federal worker training programs so it gives the money to community colleges instead and they train the growing industries," says Schumer.

Schumer says it makes sense for colleges to get together with local employers and agree on exactly what skills are needed and then make sure they're taught.

"So what we want is companies that are in similar industries to sit down with each other and develop one standard, like a machinist. Those companies develop a standard and then money is given to community colleges to help them meet those standards," says Schumer.

The senator hopes Congress will vote sometime this year on the America Works Act, which would reconfigure how money for training from the U.S. Department of labor is distributed.

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