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SUNY Orange Plus is Expanding Workforce Opportunities

June 6, 2024

MIDDLETOWN, N.Y.–  A recent annual report compiled by the Lumina Foundation and Gallup found that half of those adults surveyed--who have never been enrolled in any college programming—indicated they are likely to pursue a postsecondary credential in the next five years.

Twenty three percent of the unenrolled adults queried had considered pursuing a certificate in the past two years, with 22 percent having considered an associate degree, 19 percent mulled an industry certification and 17 percent eyed a bachelor’s degree.

Such interest by adults in postsecondary education reinforces the strategic work SUNY Orange is doing to supplement its academic degree offerings with expanded workforce training, credentialing and certifications that are in demand in Orange County. The College has recently rebranded its Continuing and Professional Education (CAPE) programming as “SUNY Orange Plus.”

SUNY Orange Plus encompasses the College’s workforce training and certification programming along with educational services (English as a Second Language and High School Equivalency), community education (short enrichment courses) and Orange County FoodTEC (the 501©3 affiliate of the College providing services for the area’s growing food, beverage and hospitality industry).

“Whether you are looking for a two-year degree or want to enhance your skills in any number of areas with quick and accessible courses, you can find what you are looking for at SUNY Orange,” says Dr. Jean Leandre, SUNY Orange vice president for workforce, strategy and innovation. “One of the goals of this rebrand is to further showcase SUNY Orange as a full-service educational hub for residents of Orange County and the greater Hudson Valley.”

Interest is already buzzing for the College’s planned new offerings for Clinical Medical Assistant, Certified Medical Billing and Coding Specialist, Certified Emergency Medical Technician (EMT), Certified Fiber Optic Technician and Family Development Credential Program. Meanwhile, enrollment remains strong in such traditional programs as Credentialed Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Counselor (CASAC-T) and Certified Pharmacy Technician.

Earlier this Spring, eight students graduated from the College’s new Manufacturing Machine Operator program delivered at Pine Bush High School in collaboration with the district and HAAS Automation. Presently, SUNY Orange Plus’ first course in Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) training is ongoing in Middletown to address the growing logistics and transportation sector in the Hudson Valley.

Leandre explains that existing and new programs are all designed to efficiently train or upskill students for rewarding careers with sustainable salaries in a competitive work market. He adds that SUNY Orange Plus courses are affordable, flexible, and convenient, allowing students to access quality training that fits their needs and schedule. All courses lead to a credential or certification, and financial assistance may be available for those who qualify.

For years, SUNY Orange’s sought-after High School Equivalency (HSE/GED) and English as a Second Language (ESL) programs have supported the needs and goals of area residents, offering pathways to future educational and employment successes. Enrollment in those courses over the past eight months is up more than 25 percent, Leandre acknowledges.

Meanwhile, Orange County FoodTEC’s online certifications are a popular choice for those individuals and companies in the region’s food, beverage, hospitality and tourism sectors who are craving industry-recognized training and certifications for a wide range of occupations. Twenty four students are enrolled in the first cohort of FoodTEC’s 15-week in-person Hospitality and Tourism program that began on June 3.

Additionally, thanks to several recent grants, the College is planning to develop SkillUp Orange (SUO), a program to benefit the local healthcare sector; create industrial manufacturing certification courses and apprenticeships; and provide financial assistance to FoodTEC students.

Short-term programs like those described above can provide immediate results for students, but SUNY Orange is also hard at work identifying ways those who complete such programs can build upon that experience by transitioning to a two-year degree.

This Spring, SUNY Orange’s Credit for Prior Learning Committee has begun developing processes and guidelines that will eventually enable individuals to use their acquired skills from various sources such as, but not limited to, military experiences, certification programs, work, or life experiences to enter degree programs at SUNY Orange with some form of advanced standing.

“The College continues to advance its Strategic Plan to empower student success and strengthen our region’s economic future,” Leandre adds. “Expanding access to affordable workforce training and certification programs, while also opening pathways to degree programs, will support our residents in earning sustainable wages and improving their lives and careers.”