The Buffalo Niagara Partnership has long advocated for the passage of federal legislation that supports our workforce development initiatives. This year, we made it a priority to support the reauthorization of the Perkins Career and Technical Education Act.
Recently, the House of Representatives reintroduced the bipartisan Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act, which would reauthorize Perkins, providing funding to high schools and colleges for career and technical education to close the skills gap and ensure employers are able to grow and expand their businesses. A similar bill passed in the House last year, but made little progress in the Senate. We have written to our federal delegation encouraging their support for the legislation.
Investing in and supporting education and workforce development initiatives that adequately prepare people for a career – especially in occupations with high and immediate demand – is critical for both workers and the long-term success of our regional economy. This is no more apparent than in the manufacturing industry. Currently employing 50,000 people within the region, the local manufacturing sector is projected to have 17,000 job vacancies by 2020 because of both growth and retirements of current workers. Without an adequate workforce ready to step into those well-paying openings, the manufacturing sector will be unable to meet its demand, and the region will not meet its economic potential.
The legislation would align Career and Technical Education programs to the needs of the regional, state, and local labor markets, support effective and meaningful collaboration between secondary and postsecondary institutions and employers, increase student participation in work-based learning opportunities, and promote the use of industry recognized credentials and other recognized post-secondary credentials. The legislation also ensures that increased funding is directed only at those programs that include strong business partnerships and align to industry needs, including the Pathways in Technology (P-TECH) partnerships here in New York State. The goals of this legislation align directly with many of the priorities of Employ Buffalo Niagara – a coalition powered by the Partnership to help Western New York employers solve their workforce challenges while building a more inclusive economy in the process.
If you are interested in getting involved in our workforce development initiatives, please contact the Employ Buffalo Niagara Coalition via email at EmployBN@thepartnership.org.