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Cuomo announces round 3 awards from Western New York Workforce Development Challenge


Wed, Apr 14th 2021 01:45 pm

More than $1.5 million awarded to 4 local not-for-profits to support workforce training in technology, tourism & advanced manufacturing sectors

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday announced more than $1.5 million from the third round of funding of the Western New York Workforce Development Challenge has been awarded to four local not-for-profit organizations. The program, part of the governor's Buffalo Billion initiative, helps ensure Western New York's workforce pipeline is being responsive to industry demands, and invests in innovative approaches to workforce training for underserved populations.

"These program awardees will provide professionals 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 full advantage of the opportunities in the rapidly changing economy, and our Workforce Development Challenge is giving Western New Yorkers the edge they need to succeed."

Following the completion of round two awards in fall of 2020, a third program round launched in December to help address an increase in pandemic-related unemployment by expediting the availability of additional workforce development resources.

The grants will be administered by the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo.

"Job training is a critical tool to reimagine our economy so that it is inclusive to all and make sure no one falls behind," Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul said. "Today's announcement provides a pathway to connect Western New Yorkers with the skills and training for the jobs in information technology, tourism and advanced manufacturing, making success accessible to all."

Projects to be Funded:

BCAT Workforce Development Hub

Organization: Buffalo Center for Arts and Technology Inc.

WDC award amount: $482,350

BCAT Workforce Development Hub (WDH) will create a new program to provide training for careers in IT/tech, including as IT helpdesk technicians, salesforce system administrators, and Microsoft 365 administrators. BCAT will apply its holistic approach to workforce development, with essential and professional skill building included in the curricula.

Training Opportunities for Workforce Ex-Offender Re-Entry (TOWER)

Organization: Community Missions of Niagara Frontier Inc.

WDC award amount: $273,083

Community Missions is expanding its parole reentry program to include a 13-week training program in tourism and hospitality occupations through a combination of real-world work experience and soft skills learning as a means to build/rebuild their work history, resume and network. Participants will have the opportunity to obtain industry certifications and placement with hospitality industry partners in Niagara Falls.

Goodskills Career Builder

Organization: Goodwill of Western New York

WDC award amount: $250,000

Goodwill will launch a workforce readiness program that fills an ecosystem gap and will help promote diversity and equity in the workforce. Participants will be equipped with the soft skills employers require, giving them access to higher wage jobs and career pathway opportunities. The program will include career readiness services, individually focused career counseling, job placement with advanced manufacturing and tech companies/programs, and retention assistance.

JCC Short-Term Advanced Manufacturing Training

Organization: Jamestown Community College Foundation

WDC award amount: $541,765

Description: JCC will launch a new short-term advanced manufacturing training program to prepare individuals for jobs in advanced manufacturing through CNC/machining and machining technician programs. The eight- to 10-week programs will include immersive training and trainee supports, preparing individuals for immediate entry into the workforce.

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

Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation Vice President of Programs Lavea Brachman said, "This round of awards provides critical education and training resources that will provide opportunities for upskilling and reskilling to residents across the region, from Buffalo Niagara through the Southern Tier, generating the workforce that employers need to fill high-quality jobs in growing industry sectors in Western New York."

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

A press release stated, “Through three rounds of funding, the WDC has awarded more than $5.6 million to 12 not-for-profit organizations in Western New York. The $11.5 million Workforce Development Challenge is designed to promote and invest in innovative approaches to workforce training for unemployed and underemployed populations throughout Western New York. The program, which awards funding to workforce development programs in the region's target industry sectors – advanced manufacturing, health and life sciences, tourism, clean energy, tech and agriculture – helps 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 supports programs aligned with the industry sectors that are ripe for growth and have available in-demand jobs, that offer training for people who are unemployed and underemployed, as well as career ladder opportunities for entry-level and mid-skill workers. The WDC also funds best-practice models that maximize collaboration between businesses and workforce training programs.”

Originally a $10 million program, the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation announced an additional $1.5 million contribution in 2019 to the fund to build on the program's success.

For more information on Regional Councils and Empire State Development, visit www.regionalcouncils.ny.gov and www.esd.ny.gov.

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