A food-processing education program in New York State backed by the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) and National Fuel has graduated its first class of students.
The program, part of a workforce development program designed to attract and train more qualified professionals into the food processing industry, awarded training certificates to 25 graduates. Numerous types of certificates were given; Lean Six Sigma Yellow Belt certificates were given through RIT, basic dairy science and sanitation through Cornell University, and team-building and OSHA training in a manufacturing environment through Genesee Community College.
According to Steve Hyde, president and CEO of the Genesee County Economic Development Center, the training program is a good example of how collaborating between schools and food processing companies can benefit both parties.
“If we are going to create a world-class industry cluster in the food processing industry, then we need to make sure our workforce is highly trained and educated,” he said.
Tristan Zuber, Dairy Foods Processing Extension associate at Cornell University, said partnerships with the food and dairy processing industry in New York State have long been a tradition at the school.
“Workforce development is now a key to the growing industry and we are continuously developing and improving our training programs and accessibility to meet industry needs and to support economic development," he said.
One graduate of the food processing program already has been hired;18 others are in the process of applying at a local cheesemaker, while others are interviewing at a yogurt manufacturing facility nearby. while 18 graduates will visit and tour Yancey’s Fancy, an artisan cheese maker in Corfu, as part of a job application project at the company. Alpina and Muller Quaker Dairy are also interviewing and considering the graduates at their yogurt manufacturing facility in the Genesee Agri-Business Park.
The Genesee Community College has asked the New York State Education Department to approve a two-year Food Processing Technology associates degree. The program has already been approved by the GCC Board of Trustees and is now under review by the State University of New York as well as SED.