2017 Labor Market Assessment Perspective

Invest Buffalo Niagara has unveiled the much anticipated Buffalo Niagara Labor Market Assessment.  The assessment examines six target industries: Advanced Business Services, Advanced Manufacturing, Agribusiness, Cleantech, Life Sciences, Logistics, and Tourism.  The objective of the report is to illustrate where our regional labor market currently stands and where we are headed over the next several years.  The data included in the report is an opportunity for us to set priorities, make informed decisions, and build collaboratives to improve and strengthen our workforce development system.   The Partnership is supporting ways to address this through providing support for the Regional Workforce Development Coalition and meeting the workforce needs of local employers, including manufacturers.

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The report offers a variety of great data, however one eye catching highlight is the number of individuals currently underemployed in our region – a staggering 132,100.  There can be several reasons for this number being so high, however, one main conclusion is the fact that our educational system, both secondary and post-secondary, is not educating the graduating students in a way to meet the current labor market needs.  This point is further verified by the fact that there are substantial surpluses of degrees conferred, compared to the number of job openings related to that degree.  Aligning our educational system to meet the needs of our labor market is critically important.  Pipeline development will reduce employment deficits in targeted industries, decrease the number of underemployed workers, and equip teachers, students, and parents with information to make the most informed decision about post-secondary options.

Advanced Manufacturing, a target industry in both the report and at the Buffalo Niagara Partnership, will be the biggest challenge over the next ten years.   Local manufacturers have created 2,700 new jobs over the last five years and are estimated to create an additional 1,100 jobs annually over the next ten years.  This job growth is in addition to the over 21,000 retirements that are expected exit the industry in the next decade.  New job creation, in addition to retirements and job growth outside the manufacturing sector, will create a potential pipeline problem for local manufacturers.   We must fund upskill opportunities for incumbent workers to create movement in the workforce system.  Upskilling incumbent workers will create upward mobility for current employees and open up employment opportunities for others looking to enter into a career in the manufacturing industry.

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Pipeline development, upskilling and baseline skills training are all essential components required to provide opportunity for current employees and those looking to connect or reconnect to the workforce.  The Invest Buffalo Niagara Labor Market Assessment data provides our community with an excellent starting point to build a workforce system that relates to our current regional needs both, socially and economically.