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Buffalo and Erie County Workforce Investment Board annual report notes program expansions, successful collaborations

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Wed, Jan 17th 2018 05:10 pm
Continuing implementation of Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act includes robust Career Pathways Program; 2017 saw more individuals placed in jobs, uptick in average salary upon placement
The Buffalo and Erie County Workforce Investment Board ("WIB") has released its annual report, spotlighting the success and growth of the Career Pathways program, the WNY Employment Strikeforce, and other programs designed to build workforce skills and place job seekers in the local business community. Continuing implementation of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act ("WIOA") of 2014, which permitted expanded relationships with employers along with easier access to system resources, has resulted in increases in both the number of individuals placed in jobs and their average annual salary upon placement as well. The annual report can be read HERE.
WIB Executive Director Heather Gresham said, "The implementation of the WIOA allows us to provide more comprehensive supports to job seekers, partner with more businesses to generate interest in emerging careers in our area, and create enhanced training and internship opportunities for people seeking employment. In 2017 over 10,500 individuals were placed in jobs at an average annual salary of $29,000, so we are seeing results that are good for business and the economy."
Since 2014, the WIB has been at the forefront regionally in developing and implementing sector-based employment strategies in hospitality/tourism, advanced manufacturing, and health care through the Career Pathways program. Developed in partnership with employers and regional training providers, these specialized training programs lead to relevant, industry-recognized credentials and job placement. The success of the program in these sectors has spurred an expansion of the program into the customer service and heating, ventilation and air conditioning ("HVAC") sectors in 2018.
"We work with individuals who are at every conceivable point of their job search, as well as employers who are seeking varied types of employees with multiple skill sets," Gresham said. "As our workforce continues to grow, diversify and become increasingly specialized, we need to ensure that supports are in place to develop the workers we will need tomorrow and that employers can access these employees easily. Working closely with employers helps to target their needs and prepare employees that fit them."
The annual report also noted the success of the WNY Employment Strikeforce, which offers services to jobseekers living in communities with high rates of unemployment. The Strikeforce works with businesses in these communities to identify openings and then match candidates with those positions or with training to close necessary skills gaps. There are currently eight Strikeforce teams located throughout Western New York.
Elsewhere, the report noted 10,556 individuals were placed in jobs in 2016-17, with 657 individuals placed in training. The WIB offered seven career pathway and job fairs, with 299 businesses participating and 1,760 jobseekers attending. Another highlight in the report is the development of a pre-training literacy program, a collaborative effort between workforce and community partners that created English as a New Language ("ENL") services to assist immigrants and refugees in WNY. The program offers ENL instruction specific to the advanced manufacturing industry, along with career and technical training provided by Erie 1 BOCES.
"As employers' needs change and workplaces change with them, we need to continually upgrade employee skill sets to meet demand," Gresham added. "Our workforce is also changing, and strong relationships across sectors help in building a workforce that is successful today and into the future."
The WIB provides one comprehensive one-stop career center and four affiliate job centers located in Buffalo, Williamsville and Orchard Park. Two affiliates are staffed and operated by the New York State Department of Labor, and two are operated by Erie Community College. All centers provide customers with career exploration, assessment tests and tools, career planning, referrals to training opportunities and financial aid assistance. Services are available to job seekers, employers, youth and individuals who are currently employed, but seeking to upgrade their skills.
For more information on the Buffalo and Erie County Workforce Investment Board, visit www.workforcebuffalo.org.

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