A Look Into the Future of Workforce Development in WNY

Buffalo Niagara Partnership sponsors tour of Northland Workforce Training Center prior to start of first classes in September.

This is big.

A 35-acre advanced manufacturing district with seven buildings on Buffalo’s East Side. Over 250,000 square feet of newly renovated training and classroom space. Hundreds of pieces of new equipment and technology from welding to CNC machines. More than 1,000 square feet of linear wall space to train future electricians. And a diverse group of over 140 students enrolled for the first classes that started this month.

Even bigger is what the Northland Workforce Training Center means for workforce development in Western New York. That is why the Buffalo Niagara Partnership was pleased to sponsor a tour of the Center this month for members of our Development Advisory Council and Manufacturers Council, providing an inside look at this unique public-private collaboration. The tour was hosted by Northland and the Buffalo Urban Development Corporation.

“Northland is a model for communities across the country, as there is nothing else like it in workforce development,” explained Stephen Tucker, president and CEO of Northland. “This is a comprehensive, industry-driven approach bringing together employers, educational institutions, community organizations, and state and local government.”

Training for what’s next

Stephen Tucker greeted tour attendees and offered some background on why Northland is more important than ever in the Buffalo Niagara region. He noted that the area is experiencing a growing skills gap as available jobs in advanced manufacturing outpace the available labor pool of highly skilled employees.

In the next 10 years, more than 20,000 jobs in manufacturing and energy will be available in Western New York (tweet this stat). As Mr. Tucker pointed out, these are not the dirty factory jobs of past generations. These are high-paying, advanced manufacturing and energy careers requiring skilled and talented individuals.

As the signature workforce initiative under New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Buffalo Billion, the Northland Workforce Training Center takes the challenges head on for employers and employees. The initiative is designed to close the skills gap of the local labor pool and provide training, co-ops, internships, apprenticeships and permanent employment opportunities for residents.

The Center will support the workforce needs of local companies by providing access to a pipeline of highly skilled, qualified candidates with a career focus. Graduates of the Northland program will have undergone highly customized training in advanced manufacturing sectors such as machine tool technology, welding, electrical construction, CNC precision machining and energy utility technology.

Customer service is key.

Stephen Tucker emphasized the focus on customer service at Northland. For the students, that means intensive and wraparound support services such as assistance with transportation, childcare, and on-site food service. For employers, Northland stresses communication and collaboration to ensure student preparedness and best practices in job placement.

“When I first came from Cincinnati to consider the position and I saw what was here, I thought I was being pranked,” Stephen Tucker laughed as he concluded the tour. “Now, when I see what was accomplished in a short time, the future looks very bright!”

Looking ahead.

The Buffalo Niagara Partnership will provide regular updates on the Northland Workforce Training Center.  In the meantime, visit northlandwtc.org.

Photos

Thank you to our sponsors of the Northland Workforce Training Center Tour:

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About Grant Loomis

Vice President, Government Affairs