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Workforce forum addresses skills gap

Printer-friendly version Posted Date: Monday, October 23, 2017 - 13:15

Baby boomers are retiring. Many blue collar jobs are now technology-based and are re-branded as “new collar” opportunities. Younger workers are still leaving the area to launch their careers in other regions. Who will fill the current and future jobs in our regional work force?

These important questions and others will be explored in The Future Workforce Forum: Closing the Middle Skills STEM Gap, a regional conversation about Western New York’s economic future, Friday, Oct. 27, 1-4 p.m., at Alfred State SUNY College of Technology’s Student Leadership Center.

The event is organized by WNY STEM Hub in collaboration with Alfred State SUNY College of Technology, WNY STEM Satellite Center at St. Bonaventure University, and the Greater Southern Tier STEM Hub.  It is part of a series of regional forums across New York State funded by a national STEMx Challenge Grant administered through the State University of New York on behalf of the Empire State STEM Learning Network.

Michelle Kavanaugh, president of WNY STEM Hub says, “While some portions of our region are rebounding, there is an urgent need to address those areas where growth is lagging and, most importantly, the greater region’s future workforce needs in order to sustain growth.  A prepared STEM workforce supported by an aligned education/training pipeline is critical to a vibrant future for our region.”

Dr. Skip Sullivan, president of Alfred State College adds, “By aligning our STEM-related programs with high-paying careers that are in demand, Alfred State is proud to be recognized as a STEM Jobs Approved College with a 97 percent Opportunity Score for providing internships and hands-on training. Our college partners with business, education, and economic development leaders to help train the workforce of tomorrow and to fill many jobs that otherwise would go vacant.”

Chris Suozzi, vice president of Business and Workforce Development at the Genesee County Economic Development Center said that building a pipeline of workers is critical to the Science Technology and Advanced Manufacturing Park (STAMP) in Genesee County.  “Economic development is hyper competitive and if we are going to land advanced manufacturing companies at STAMP these companies want to know that we have a highly trained and productive workforce to handle the skills required for these technologically driven jobs.”

During the forum, subject matter experts will address the state of our regional workforce, followed by a participatory World Café-format discussion during which the attendees and experts will interact to answer key questions. Participants include:

Amber Mooney, manager of Government Affairs, The Business Council of New York State;

Jill Lansing, assistant vice chancellor and director of Education Pipeline Initiatives, SUNY Vice Chancellor’s Office;

John Slenker, market analyst, New York State Department of Labor;

Holly Hutchinson, project director, American Apprenticeship Initiative;

Evelyn Sabina, program coordinator, Dream It. Do It. WNY;

Mark Vaughn, technical talent pipeline manager, Corning;

Stephen Tucker, president & CEO, WNY Workforce Training Center

Dr. Craig Clark, vice president for Economic Development, SUNY Alfred State; and

Todd Oldham, vice president, Economic Development and Innovative Services, Monroe Community College.

Data from the WNY Middle Skills Gap Report, published in October of 2016, compiled by SUNY Monroe Community College Economic Development and WNY STEM under a SUNY TEAM grant, will form the basis of discussion. 

The forum is open to the public and the cost is $22 per person. Registration is required at www.eventbrite.com/e/the-future-workforce-middle-skills-stem-gap-tickets....