At a glance
“WNY Works is a collaborative effort to heighten awareness and interest in associate degrees, certificates, and non-credit training to provide the knowledge and skills necessary for individuals to launch high-demand careers. The goal of this effort, in part, is to reframe perceptions of learning opportunities that lead to careers such as highly skilled trades and technical opportunities in manufacturing.”
Betsy Penrose - VP of ASC Enrollment Management
Three State University of New York (SUNY) colleges have joined forces to help employers eager to hire along with workers ready to learn the needed skills for advanced manufacturing careers.
Western New York (WNY) employers face a crisis with a lack of skilled manufacturing workers. In response, Alfred State College, Genesee Community College, and Jamestown Community College established WNYworks.org. The faculty at each college stays in constant contact with regional employers to know the exact skills needed for graduates to land great-paying jobs. The new collaboration of colleges is a marketing initiative to attract more interested students, both high school graduates and workers looking to upskill and upgrade their career paths.
The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) estimates that 2.1 million jobs will be left empty by 2030 waiting for qualified workers. Manufacturers employ more than 60,000 employees earning an average of $85,474 annually in Western New York according to NAM. Nearly every manufacturing company in the region knows the pain of open positions with 77 percent reporting that they currently are ready to hire and cannot find skilled professionals.
That’s why WNYworks.org was launched. Alfred State College, Genesee, and Jamestown Community Colleges offer dozens of different certificate and associate degrees in manufacturing. These colleges are spread across multiple WNY locations to make skill-building more convenient. After bringing all those options into one website, WNYworks.org is actively recruiting and advertising to make dreams of high-paying careers a reality.
Thanks to a grant from the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation, WNYworks.org will increase the number of available skilled workers. These new hires are needed to fuel the WNY economy as the manufacturing industry is booming. The marketing tools being used are the website, brochures, social media, digital advertising, and emotionally engaging videos to showcase graduate success stories.
In Western New York, some of the prevailing wages include $60,800 for computer and electronics manufacturing jobs, $79,300 for transportation equipment work, $60,100 for fabricated metal workers, and $60,460 for mechatronics technicians according to the US Department of Labor. Check out all the careers available at WNYworks.org/advanced-manufacturing.
A memorandum of understanding between the three colleges outlines how each is a participant in this new venture. Leaders from each college are excited by the potential for assisting more students to find their new careers and employers to find much-needed skilled workers.
Vice President of Enrollment Management Betsy Penrose of Alfred State College said, “WNY Works is a collaborative effort to heighten awareness and interest in associate degrees, certificates, and non-credit training to provide the knowledge and skills necessary for individuals to launch high-demand careers. The goal of this effort, in part, is to reframe perceptions of learning opportunities that lead to careers such as highly skilled trades and technical opportunities in manufacturing. Stackable credentials and laddered programs now provide opportunities for both traditional-aged students and adults seeking retraining to start a new, viable, and well-compensated career.”
Vice President for Student and Enrollment Services Dr. Shelitha Williams of Genesee Community College said, “Genesee Community College is thrilled to be a part of WNYworks.org, bringing together the resources of three SUNY colleges to help bridge the gap between employers and skilled workers in the thriving manufacturing industry. Our commitment to providing quality education and career opportunities to our students aligns perfectly with the mission of this initiative.”
Vice President of Student Affairs Dr. Kirk Young of Jamestown Community College said, “JCC is excited to partner with Alfred State and Genesee Community College in fulfilling the mission of WNY Works. We stay in constant communication with our regional employers’ needs and understand the skills graduates must have to land rewarding jobs. This project continues to power our dedication to training our local workforce and supporting our manufacturers.”
WNYworks.org enlisted the support and expertise of Interact Communications, a leader in student recruitment for two-year degrees. Their research confirmed how the pandemic and current economic climate have negatively impacted enrollment in two-year degree programs. More recent data from the National Student Clearinghouse shows that the number of two-year degree-seeking students inched up nationally by just under half of one percent for a positive trend based on Fall 2022. WNYworks.org hopes to add fuel to that recovery to help more students launch new careers.