(WKBW release) Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz on Friday addressed the inaugural Workforce Development Summit, an event focused on improving and coordinating work force training efforts in Erie County.
According to a news release:
The Summit, a collaboration between the Office of the County Executive, the Buffalo & Erie County Workforce Investment Board, and the Erie County Department of Social Services, is the first step towards better alignment between organizations who fund workforce training, employers who need trained employees, and prospective workers in need of training.
“This summit will serve as a catalyst to bring together employers and potential employees who are trained for available jobs here in Erie County,” said Poloncarz. “Today marks what we hope will be the first of many conversations taking place to facilitate better coordination between funding, training, and employers’ needs.”
Each organization in attendance was encouraged to fill out a short survey outlining who they are, the target population they serve, and any information about the training programs they fund or administer. The results will be used to provide information to each organization and their potential community partners to help determine where gaps may exist in training, hiring needs of employers, and current labor trends. Results will also be compiled into an Employment Training directory which will be available as a resource on the Erie County website.
In addition to Heather Okoro, Executive Director of the Buffalo & Erie County Workforce Investment Board, Inc., and Deputy Erie County Executive Richard Tobe, other speakers at the event included Andrew Rudnick, President & CEO of the Buffalo Niagara Partnership, who spoke about the needs of employers; and John Slenker, Labor Market Analyst for the Western New York Region Office of the NYS Department of Labor, who addressed labor market statistics.
“The Buffalo & Erie County Workforce Investment Board is pleased to be working with our partners in County government and in the region to sponsor this important Summit,” said Heather Okoro. “This event brings together a diverse cross-section of funders, training administrators, educators, and employers to discuss ways to bridge the gap that exists between the needs of employers and the skills of job seekers in our area.”
“We must do a better job of identifying the specific gaps in the skills Buffalo Niagara employers need today and into the near future, and to find ways to bridge them,” said Andrew Rudnick, President and CEO of the Buffalo Niagara Partnership. “We need to continue to establish better communication channels and truly collaborative relationships among and between workforce training agencies, K-12 and higher education institutions and the employer community. This is the only way people seeking jobs actually will get them, and the regional economy actually will grow in a sustaining way.
Summit participants also took part in working groups focusing on job training issues, with discussions centered on measuring successful outcomes of job training, challenges in placing trained employees, barriers between employers’ needs and employees’ abilities, and ways to develop partnerships.