FLCC offers technology and manufacturing courses at rural libraries

Finger Lakes Community College is offering courses at local rural libraries this fall — part of a national project to bridge a divide in education and job opportunities for rural residents.

Clifton Springs Library and Macedon Public Library are two of the sites offering courses in advanced manufacturing and computer technology this upcoming semester through the Growing Rural Infrastructure Together program at FLCC.

“With this program, people can have a very good chance to be able to find a really good job for themselves,” said Stacey Wicksall, library director at the Macedon Public Library.

The goal is to connect people who are unemployed or looking to change careers with businesses in the area looking for employees, Wicksall said. That includes jobs in advanced manufacturing and healthcare.

“Really what we’re talking about is removing some of the common barriers to higher education that occur for some people in rural communities,” Todd Sloane, FLCC director of workforce development, said. “And that’s transportation, that’s broadband at home, and that’s having a computer at home.”

Part of the training will involve virtual reality, something Sloane said makes opportunities like this more accessible than on-site training since the devices are portable, and don’t cost as much as some on-site equipment.

“We’re actually discovering some advantages to it,” he said. “It’s much safer, there’s no danger of injury. And students get feedback immediately.”

Sloane says he expects the program will help combat rural poverty by developing a skilled workforce in places where he says there is currently a shortage.

This past year, 12 students graduated from the initial pilot program in Bloomfield and Penn Yan. Of those students 11 are currently working in advanced manufacturing, Sloane said.

FLCC was one of five colleges across the country to receive funding from Education Design Lab to develop and test models for delivering education and training in small towns and villages.

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