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$1.3 Million Investment for a Transitional Mobile Welding Program Approved

Monroe County Executive Adam Bello was joined Thursday, June 20, 2024 by State University of New York (SUNY) Vice Chancellor Dr. F. Shadi Shahedipour-Sandvik, SUNY Brockport President Dr. Heidi Macpherson, University Center for Academic and Workforce Development Associate Provost and Director Lisa Jackson and Rochester Educational Opportunity Center (REOC) Dean/Executive Director Dr. Roosevelt Mareus to cut the ribbon on REOC’s new mobile welding lab.

The mobile welding lab offers training programs to all eligible residents as well as at-risk youth and individuals on parole with a goal of removing barriers to employment. The equipment was purchased with $1.3 million of Monroe County’s American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds.

The lab is housed in a large trailer with eight stations, providing students with the skills needed for entry-level work as welders. The 18-week hands-on training program introduces students to various components and equipment used in the welding trade through three new courses:

* Basic Shielded Metal Arc;

* Advanced Shielded Metal Arc; and

* Gas Metal Arc Welding

“Welders are vital to our infrastructure and economy; their skills are essential for the production of most manufactured goods in America. Our county is facing a growing shortage of welders, and to ensure that we are able to sustain this vital part of our workforce, we are supporting REOC to offer welding training opportunities that break down barriers and promote equity in the workforce,” Bello said.

Dr. Roosevelt Mareus, Executive Director of REOC says the transformative program allows the REOC to bring this valuable training to individuals where they live, where they work, and where they gather – making this unique mobile welding lab the first of its kind for the area."

The New York State Department of Labor estimates nearly 180 welding job openings annually in the nine-county Finger Lakes region. According to the American Welding Society, the industry is expected to face a nationwide shortage of 360,000 welders by 2027 because of industry growth and retirement of an aging workforce.

“SUNY’s Educational Opportunity Centers provide a launching pad to in-demand careers in communities across our state, and the mobile welding expansion at the Rochester EOC will support adult learners where they are, by providing an excellent education that will allow students to enter the welding profession, and succeed in it,” SUNY Chancellor John B. King Jr. said.

The mobile welding program aligns with equity goals outlined in the 2021 Racial and Structural Equity (RASE) Commission recommendations. REOC is partnering with the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office to allow formerly incarcerated individuals and at-risk youth who are deemed in good standing by law enforcement to participate in this program. The goal is to help them enter the skilled workforce and provide alternative options to recidivism by offering skills training in a high-growth and vital industry.

“Breaking down employment barriers for at-risk youth, those returning from incarceration, and others who face significant challenges securing employment is critical to giving everyone in our community the opportunity to thrive,” said Congressman Joe Morelle. “This $1.3 million investment in the REOC’s Mobile Welding Lab will help give REOC the tools and resources they need to set people on the path to success.”

“Workforce training that meets people where they are is essential for so many in our community and maximizes effective job training and placement,” said US Senator Charles Schumer. “This program is a game-changer for our community and our economy.”

For more information or to apply for welding classes at REOC, click here.

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