“A manufacturing job posting 20 years ago might have attracted 10 candidates. Today, we’re lucky to get one qualified candidate,” said Chris Sansone, president of the Buffalo Niagara Manufacturing Alliance, in an article in the Buffalo News.
I hear this at every conference, roundtable and industry event I attend.
While there is a debate about whether the shortage might be solved by offering a wage that attracts people to these open manufacturing jobs, at the end of the day these jobs need to be filled.
In Buffalo, as in other states, they are taking some concrete actions. Yesterday Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced that the Western New York Regional Economic Development Council will create a Regional Workforce Advancement Center in order to help manufacturers fill employment skills gaps among area residents.
“We want to be ahead of the curve,” said Governor Cuomo.
What he really means is that by 2020 the city of Buffalo will have 17,000 job openings in manufacturing and he wants to fill them. This sector brings in $6.3 billion in this region and currently employs more than 50,000.
So a group was assembled including: Empire State Development, Buffalo Niagara Manufacturing Alliance, Greater Niagara Manufacturers Association, Buffalo Niagara Partnership, the State University of New York New York State Department of Labor), Erie County and the City of Buffalo to provide a quantifiable process for improving and strengthening the region’s workforce.
The group is now working on choosing a site and curriculum for the art Regional Workforce Advancement Center in the City of Buffalo.
And the region is hoping that this center will also serve as a magnet for manufacturers to relocate to Buffalo/Niagara.