According to the New York Association of Training and Employment Professionals (NYATEP), there is an urgent need to prepare the next generation of workforce candidates as approximately 25% of the labor force in the state is 55 years old or older.
Locally focused solutions are already in place to solve this nationwide issue.
The NYATEP is comprised of workforce development boards across New York state. Public and private sector entities across Genesee County and the GLOW region have prioritized collaboration in preparing and implementing youth workforce development programs. These collaborations have been extremely effective in engaging our youth by helping them learn about local career opportunities and by providing employers with the opportunity to engage area youth.
What is unique in our approach is being able to expose students at a very young age to skilled trades, manufacturing, mechatronics and other growing employment sectors where we are with them each step of their workforce journey. Due to our location between New York’s second and third largest metros, we can specialize within specific industries and skills that fit within our own business ecosystem to promote good-paying jobs located in students’ backyards.
The collaboration among the four-county GLOW Workforce Development Board, Genesee Valley’s 22-school BOCES, National Grid, manufacturers like Liberty Pumps, HP Hood and future employers such as Plug Power and Edwards semiconductor has been the foundation for success of workforce development.
We also have seen a return on youth workforce investment through collaboration with Cornell University’s Food Processing Bootcamp, Genesee Community College and Rochester Technology and Manufacturing Association among many other business, education and youth organizations.
One of our most successful programs, GLOW With Your Hands – Manufacturing, is an innovative day-long hands-on career experience that guides youth to careers in manufacturing and the skilled trades. This past March, we launched GLOW With Your Hands – Healthcare, another day-long career exploration event in another sector experiencing a strong need for workers.
There are significant benefits for both employers and students through these day-long career exploration events. Employers in the manufacturing and healthcare sectors get the opportunity to interact with the next generation of workforce candidates first-hand, learning about their potential career interests, while over 1,600 students learned about the career opportunities available in their community this school year.
Our region will continue to see investment in advanced manufacturing, infrastructure, and construction, especially with the development of the Science and Technology Advanced Manufacturing Park (STAMP in the town of Alabama). The demand for a plentiful pool of skilled and productive workers is only going to increase as companies in these emerging sectors bring their operations here and workers at existing companies in the region begin to retire.
However, when you surround yourself with people that care about the future of their community you can build something special and that is what we are experiencing in Genesee County and the GLOW region through these collaborative workforce development initiatives.
Chris Suozzi is GCEDC’s vice president of business and workforce development.