WNY Regional Council investing in manufacturing sector workforce

May 3, 2013

The Western New York Regional Economic Development Council says it will invest some of the 'Buffalo Billion' into strengthening the regional advanced manufacturing workforce.

The council plans to partner manufacturing organizations with Erie Community College and other vocational schools to create a workforce training center. The funds will also help the state Department of Labor hire a 'skills broker' who will be in charge of helping manufacturers find people specifically qualified for the open high-skill positions.

Regional co-chair Howard Zemsky says the plan comes as many current manufacturing workers are reaching the age of retirement.

"We hear, time and time again, that we have critical shortages and will face more and more critical shortages in the years ahead. Seventeen-thousand jobs will need to be filled in the advanced manufacturing sector between now and 2020," Zemsky says.

Buffalo Niagara Manufacturing Alliance Vice President Chris Sansone says manufacturing is the third largest sector in the region's economy.

"Our local manufacturers have identified six priority job categories for finding qualified candidates. Those six include CNC machinists, welders, inspectors, industrial mechanics, electricians, and electromechanical technicians. These six positions make up approximately 30 percent of the 17,000 jobs that are due to be vacated by the year 2020," Sansone says.

Zemsky says the plan will begin with a pilot training program, which will kick off within the next six months. He says its success will determine where they decide to build the brick and mortar training facility.

The average salary of a person working in high-tech manufacturing is around $45,000 per year, according to Zemsky.