During Tech Wars at GCC on Thursday, The Batavian spoke with Chris Suozzi, VP of business and workforce development for GCEDC, about how companies that are opening new operations here -- such as La Fermière and PlugPower -- as well as those that are expanding.
With labor markets tight, Suozzi said the future workforce of Genesee County can be found at events like TechWars, among the kids being turned on to engineering and technology.
He pointed to the $700,000 mechatronics training equipment acquired by BOCES on display at TechWars as one of the ways Genesee County is leading the state in workforce development.
GLOW with Your Hands, he noted, has also been a huge success and is also setting the pace in New York for workforce development.
This summer, GCEDC starts up the Cornell in High School Program, which will provide training and job experience to 40 high school seniors in dairy science and sanitation in a boot-camp format.
Also this summer, people 18-24 will be able to participate in a tech-job training program that includes 16 hours of free classroom training and a 24-hour paid internship, each week for six weeks, that will lead to a paid apprenticeship with a participating local company.
Both Suozzi and Rich Monroe, who is leading the mechatronics program at BOCES, mentioned several students who have successfully completed workforce development programs. One went from selling car parts at $12.50 an hour to an apprenticeship at Barilla Pasta at $15 an hour and in less than a year with the company is now making $28 an hour. Another student went from working at a convenience store to a job at USG where he started at $22 an hour and is now making $25 an hour.
All with student debt, Suozzi noted.
"It’s not to just go get a job," Monroe said. "It’s to further their education and to get more skills and make them more viable in the workplace."