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GLOW workforce development program involves 2K hands

By Joanne Beck


There are kids in every high school who, when it comes time to make that serious decision after graduation, just don’t know what they want to do, Molly Haungs says.

And the GLOW With Your Hands program is a way to introduce kids early on to many career options that don't necessarily require a costly college degree.

“I am a marketing manager, I have a college degree. It took me seven and a half years to get there. That's an expensive mistake, and that was a long time ago. It's an even more expensive mistake now. And I think if we can kind of get some of these kiddos that just aren't really sure what they want to do, in front of businesses and in front of occupations, where they can feel a sense of fulfillment and know that they're gonna make a good honest living. There's just so much pride in that,” Haungs said during a GLOW celebration Wednesday at the site of her employer, Land Pro Equipment. “And this community offers a ton of opportunities. So that's really what the GLOW With Your Hands project is about, it’s aligning potential students with the businesses that have careers that can make it all happen and come together.”


Haungs and several other partners in the four-county effort (Genesee, Livingston, Orleans, and Wyoming) got together to announce the program’s success in attracting those students, and area businesses, to participate.

This year 1,000 students will be learning various skills that are in demand in the workforce, from high-tech construction equipment operators and advanced manufacturing to food production and jobs in the agricultural market.

Land Pro Equipment, in progress with a project at its site at Saile Drive and Call Parkway, was one of the founders of the program and therefore has been a participating business for interested students. Haungs said this kick-off event couldn’t have happened at a better time “as we continue with the construction of our 50,000 square-foot regional training center with sales, service, and training facilities,” she said.

“In order to repair and maintain a large portfolio of John Deere equipment, we need workers with a specific set of skills because these machines use highly sophisticated electronics and other high-end controls. We are finding that GLOW With Your Hands is truly making a difference … I mean, you'll see kids that are driving nails. I got to see some things last year that, you just see a spark in their eye and interest created, and it's just such a good feeling when you see that light in one kid.”

Her company first saw such an initiative at a Finger Lakes Career Fair, and everyone agreed that it should be replicated here, Haungs said. One by one, key players joined in the effort, from Co-Chairmen Jay Lazarony and Chris Suozzi, GLOW With Your Hands School Coordinator Angela Grouse and Melinda Mack, New York Association of Training and Employment Professionals executive director, to marketing committee co-chairman Jim Krencik.

And a win-win became evident: employers provided opportunities for students to learn hands-on skills, students and their families could eliminate college debt, and more trained workers are becoming available for employers seeking people to fill positions.

As Suozzi said, “The GLOW region has become a hub for workforce development because of events such as GLOW With Your Hands, which provides hands-on experiences in growing and emerging fields that can lead to good paying career opportunities without students having to incur the cost of a college education.”

Students from eighth to 12th grades will come from all four counties for a career boot camp of sorts, learning hands-on skills and trades and having the opportunity to dip their toes in several occupational pools, so to speak.

More than 45 vendors have already committed to participate in hands-on activities and simulations in the advanced manufacturing, agriculture, food production, skilled trades sectors, and various branches of the military.

Mack said the efforts of GLOW With Your Hands represent the impact that workforce development partnerships are having for the next generation of talent.

“GLOW With Your Hands is a model of how regional stakeholders are collaborating on workforce development initiatives that provide industries across many sectors with a pipeline of prospective skilled workers,” she said. “We are very passionate about workforce development, it is our goal to provide voice, knowledge, and accelerating progress in this field through events and initiatives like GLOW With Your Hands.”

The student participants will converge on Genesee County Fairgrounds on Sept. 27, and, as a result of this program, local residents have “many options for good-paying, family-sustaining jobs,” Lazarony said.

“But the job is not done. We need to focus on the next generation of workers because of the immediate need for skilled workers due to the rate of retiring laborers. It's important to note, that a number of these jobs do not require a four-year college degree. Graduating students can start their careers without incurring or letting their parents incur the cost of college education,” he said.

“There was a time not too long ago that you didn't have a college degree and you couldn't get a good paying job, a family-sustaining job. That's not the case any longer,” he said. “Simply put, employers that report skilled workers now, especially those that can grow within their companies in the coming decades, through our collaboration with the business sector, and stakeholders in government events like GLOW With Your Hands, are helping meet this demand. The future for our regional economy depends on us meeting this demand.”

Haungs also credits Karen Winters of Genesee County’s Business Education Alliance as the one who “kind of got in front of the right people to make this happen.” From there, it snowballed into a much larger territory of workforce development opportunities for students, she said.

“And it was just a trickle-down effect of people, just knowing that we need this, and knowing that this is going to make a difference,” Haungs said.

Top photo from left, Jay Lazarony, Angela Grouse, Molly Haungs, Melinda Mack, Chris Suozzi, and Jim Krencik celebrate the GLOW With Your Hands program, which will involve 1,000 students from Genesee, Livingston, Orleans, and Wyoming counties at a hands-on training Sept. 27 at Genesee County Fairgrounds. Photos by Joanne Beck.

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