Continuing a strong year of advocacy focused on workforce development.
Recently, members of the Partnership’s Manufacturers Council met with our federal congressional delegation regarding legislation that is vital to the success of the industry here, in Western New York. This continues the strong advocacy work of our Council this year, which has included a letter to our federal legislators regarding Pell Grant reform, attending Manufacturing Day in Albany, and other initiatives to ensure our local manufacturing sector can continue to help spur economic growth in the Buffalo Niagara region.
The Partnership arranged meetings with Congressmen Chris Collins (R-NY27) and Brian Higgins (D-NY26), as well as meeting with senior aides to Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Charles Schumer (D-NY). These sessions allowed our members to directly communicate their workforce development challenges.
Manufacturers of all sizes in WNY are facing significant difficulties finding qualified employees. The industry currently employs around 50,000 people in the region, but the NYS Department of Labor (DoL) forecasts 17,000 job vacancies by 2020, due to combined effects from employee retirements and industry expansion. To fill these gaps, employers and students are increasingly looking to certificate programs, which are now the fastest growing credential in secondary education.
Partnership staff recommended specific policy actions for the upcoming year that will expand access to certificates and training, including:
- Expanding the Pell Grant program by supporting the JOBS Act of 2015 to allow greater access and flexibility for certificate program funding
- Supporting the Perkins Modernization Act to improve training for Career and Technical Education (CTE) students
- Supporting the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act to better align CTE programs with local labor markets
Advocacy projects like these meetings are a feature that makes our Manufacturers Council unique. Members drive the creation of yearly initiatives and corresponding advocacy priorities that feed our Advocacy Agenda. We then provide members with resources, access, and support throughout the year to make sure the voice of the business community is heard. If you would like to learn more about our Manufacturers Council or the advocacy work of the Partnership, please contact Barrett Erbe.
Our Manufacturers Council was represented by the following members:
- Steve Davis, Tapecon
- Pamela Riggins, International Paper
- Scott Pallotta, Zehnder Rittling
- Elizabeth Miller, Sealing Devices
- April Corrao & Jerry Hace, Gooding Co.
- Joe Dunlop, Switzer
- Pasquale Greco, Coca-Cola Bottling of Buffalo