Several innovative programs have been or will be launched in Western New York designed to enhance and improve the talent pool for regional employers, especially manufacturers, for years to come. These new workforce development programs bolster training efforts available at community colleges as well as the vocational programs offered through Buffalo Public Schools and Erie 1 BOCES.
Here are the workforce development programs that will be game-changers for manufacturers relocating to Buffalo Niagara.
Dream It, Do It WNY’s (http://www.didiwny.com/) mission is to introduce middle and high school students to careers in manufacturing and they’ve been successfully doing so for several years. Its goal is for more young students to choose education paths that will guide them into skilled trades and other critical support roles necessary for advanced manufacturers. Ideally, it will result in a deeper talent pool as these students graduate through the system. Dream it, Do it WNY encompasses school districts, colleges and manufacturers in Erie, Niagara, Allegany, Chautauqua and Cattaraugus counties.
Already underway, and projected to increase in size and scope over the next five years, is the Buffalo Manufacturing Works. The facility will “provide technology solutions to companies across the manufacturing industry through world-class engineering support, research and design, training and strategic services” (http://buffalomanufacturingworks.com/). The Manufacturing Works is partially funded by a $45 million investment by New York State as part of the “Buffalo Billion” pledge from Governor Andrew Cuomo and will help manufacturers to research and innovate new products, improve productivity through “process excellence,” develop new export markets for their products and cultivate a highly skilled workforce.
Currently in the planning phase, the Regional Workforce Advancement Center (http://www.bizjournals.com/buffalo/news/2013/05/02/manufacturing-training-center.html) will open in Buffalo thanks to additional investment from New York State. This facility will be exclusively focused on workforce development, especially the replacement of thousands of baby boomer employees who will retire over the next several years.
These are exciting times for the next generation of skilled workers as well as adults looking for new opportunities in tomorrow’s manufacturing jobs.