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Cuomo announces Western New York Workforce Development Challenge round 2 awardees


Mon, Sep 28th 2020 05:10 pm

4 local not-for-profits to receive $1.45 million to support workforce training in agriculture, health and life sciences, and technology sectors

Hochul kicks off New York State Workforce Development Awareness Week

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday announced $1,454,072 million in funding from the second round of the Western New York Workforce Development Challenge has been awarded to four local nonprofit organizations.

A press release said, “The program helps ensure the region's workforce pipeline is being responsive to industry demands and promotes and invests in innovative approaches to workforce training for underserved populations.”

Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul made the announcement and also kicked off New York State's Workforce Development Awareness Week, which runs Sept. 28 to Oct. 4. During this week, New York spotlights job training and higher education strategies that will help meet business and industry workforce needs, improve regional talent pipelines, enhance the flexibility and adaptability of local workforce entities, and expand workplace learning opportunities for the diverse cross-section of people who remain the bedrock of the state and nation's workforce.

"These awards will provide people with the training and skills they need to compete in today's fast-growing industries and help New York build back better," Cuomo said. "The state's workforce must adapt in order to take advantage of the rapidly changing economy, and our Workforce Development Challenge is giving Western New Yorker's the edge they need to succeed."

The WDC awardees foster workforce development in at least one of the region's target industry sectors, which include: advanced manufacturing, health and life sciences, tourism, clean energy, and agriculture. Round two was also expanded to include and fund tech-focused training. The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation contributed an additional $1.5 million to the fund this round to build on the program's success. The grants will be administered by the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo and Empire State Development, New York's chief economic development agency.

"Job training is a lot more than just a catch phrase – it literally means training for the jobs of the future – and without it, our workforce stagnates," Hochul said. "I was proud to kick off Workforce Development Awareness Week in my hometown of Buffalo today because, for me, this is personal. New Yorkers have been hit hard by the pandemic, but we are investing to make job training and career placement accessible for all and more inclusive. Today's investments are another tool in our build back better economy and making success accessible to all New Yorkers."

The $11.5 million Workforce Development Challenge program is designed to promote and invest in innovative approaches to workforce training for unemployed and underemployed populations throughout Western New York. The program will help increase the capacity of community-based trainers who have proven track records, trusted community relationships, and outstanding abilities for outreach and recruitment. In addition, it will support programs in the region's target sectors that are ripe for growth and have available in-demand jobs, by providing training for people who are unemployed and underemployed, as well as career ladder opportunities for entry-level and mid-skill workers. The program funds best-practice models that maximize collaboration between business and workforce trainers.

Projects to be Funded

Trocaire College Technology Institute Career Reboot Program

Organization: Trocaire College, Erie County

WDC award amount: $674,162

Description: Funding will be used to cover a 36-week pilot of an IT and cybersecurity training, its applicable certifications, and the related soft skill support services.

New Hope Innovative Career Center

Organization: Harvest House, Erie County

WDC award amount: $379,822

Description: An expansion of the existing program that provides certificate-based, hands-on training in health and life sciences along with soft and life skills training and support.

Beginning Farmer Training Program

Organization: Cornell Cooperative Extension of Niagara County (Niagara Falls and Lockport)

WDC award amount $250,088

Description: Funding will expand beginning farmer training, a certificate program to help underemployed and employed agriculture workers seeking upskilling and career advancement. The program uses classroom instruction, hands-on training, and wraparound services to provide students with the knowledge and industry connections necessary to take farm products from seed to sale.

Advancement Training for Healthcare Occupations (ATHOS): A Rural Innovative Training Opportunity

Organization: WNY Rural Area Health Education Center Inc., Erie, Niagara, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua and Allegany counties.

WDC award amount: $150,000

Description: Funding will complete the development of a curriculum, implement program delivery, and provide support services for the training program that provides care coordination training in rural, medically underserved communities and the local health care industry. The program provides training through direct classroom experience, online through an e-learning platform, or as a hybrid program.

Future funding rounds will be announced in the coming months. Additional information can be found here.

Empire State Development Acting Commissioner, President and CEO-designate Eric Gertler said, "By promoting and investing in innovative and results-oriented approaches, the Workforce Development Challenge is helping to ensure Western New York's talent pool is keeping up with the higher-demand, higher-paying jobs that are a sign of the region's continued growth and transformation."

The state has already made significant investments in workforce development efforts to address the gap between the supply of labor and industry needs. Applying research and best practices learned through these efforts, the WDC program will leverage and build upon existing workforce development efforts and will upskill underserved populations to meet the needs of growing industry sectors – providing and increasing workforce opportunities throughout Western New York.”

More information on Workforce Development Awareness Week and New York's role to expand opportunities for New Yorkers, can be found here. The state has created the historic Workforce Development Initiative to provide in-demand employment skills and training, made efforts to improve college affordability for all New Yorkers, and established an executive office of Workforce Development, which, the press release said, “will help New Yorkers find fulfillment as part of the workforce and keep our momentum moving forward as we continue to build a more robust and resilient economy in our state.”

Empire State Development is New York's chief economic development agency. For more information on Regional Councils and ESD, visit www.regionalcouncils.ny.gov and www.esd.ny.gov.

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