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Empire State Development: applications available for 'Workforce Development Challenge'


Tue, Mar 13th 2018 04:15 pm
Buffalo Billion initiative will ensure Western New York's workforce pipeline is being responsive to industry demands
Applications and program information available HERE
Empire State Development announced applications are available for the $10 million "Workforce Development Challenge," a Buffalo Billion 2 initiative that will ensure the Western New York region's workforce pipeline is being responsive to industry demands. It is designed to promote and invest in innovative approaches to workforce training for underserved populations. Not-for-profit organizations in Erie, Niagara, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua and Allegany counties could be eligible to receive at least $250,000. Applications, which are due at 4 p.m. Friday, May 18, are available HERE, along with program information.
"By promoting and investing in innovative and results-oriented approaches to workforce training in Western New York, the 'Workforce Development Challenge' will help to ensure the region's talent pool is keeping up with the higher-demand, higher-paying jobs that are a sign of continued growth fueled by the Buffalo Billion," Empire State Development President, CEO and Commissioner Howard Zemsky said.
ESD said that, in 2012, Buffalo was reeling from a decades-long economic decline and uncertainty, chronically high unemployment, and the absence of effective partnership from state government in Albany. As part of his vision to restore the economic vitality of upstate New York, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo began by securing an unprecedented investment for Western New York, including the "Buffalo Billion" initiative.
The "WDC" will help increase the capacity of community-based trainers who have proven track records, trust and outstanding abilities for outreach and recruitment. It will support programs in the region's target sectors ripe for growth (advanced manufacturing, health and life sciences, tourism, energy and agriculture), providing training for unemployed, underemployed and/or career ladder opportunities for entry-level and mid-skill workers. It will fund best practice models that maximize collaboration between business and workforce trainers.
Not-for-profit organizations in the five-county Western New York region doing high impact, results-oriented workforce training that can demonstrate strong outcomes in training, job placement and retention are encouraged to apply. The "WDC" is intended to be flexible and responsive to industry and innovation, and encourages applicants to provide new and creative proposals that are tailored to neighborhood and population needs. The program also encourages projects that employ multiple workforce development strategies, including wrap-around services, mentorships, soft skills development, and partnerships with industry. The grants will be administered by the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo.
Research indicates employers in high-demand, higher-paying industries need to rapidly identify pools of skilled workers and training programs that meet their needs, and over the long-term, influence the skills of the workforce pipeline to better align their needs. The most recent research on the labor market in the region included an employer survey showing the majority of companies in Buffalo Niagara report a number of hard-to-fill jobs or hard-to-find skills, suggesting the supply of labor could be better matched to industry needs. Jobs that are difficult to fill today and the skills that are difficult for employers to find will be compounded as industries across the region grow. Many industry sectors in the region experienced double-digit job growth over the past five years. Over the next five years, many industries can expect to fill thousands of job openings across the region annually. The region also faces a looming retirement cliff that will impact the labor supply.
Considering these challenges, the Buffalo Billion has already made significant investments in workforce development efforts and will increase that investment in Buffalo Billion 2. In phase one, workforce development efforts were largely focused on growing the much-needed workforce pipeline in the manufacturing sector. Ongoing investments in the new Workforce Training Center at Northland, located on Buffalo's East Side in the Northland Corridor, will create economic onramps to training, apprenticeships and career placement for manufacturing and energy sectors. Applying research and best-practices learned through these efforts, the "WDC" will leverage and build upon the good work in workforce development already happening in the community, and will up-skill underserved populations to meet the needs of growing industry sectors, providing opportunities for the workforce throughout all five counties of Western New York.

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