Fall jobs forecast: what's hot in western New York

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Posted at 5:00 AM, Oct 06, 2021

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Advanced manufacturing and energy job training is in high demand, creating a waiting list in those programs at Northland Workforce Training Center.

It’s the new normal at Northland where Steven Tucker is President and C.E.O.

“I would say electrical and mechatronics are the hottest programs right now. Our electrical program has a waiting list,” Tucker explained.

Trade school popularity is perhaps a sign of the times.

According to a new nationwide survey of 3,000 students, fewer are considering a four-year degree. In January 2020, 71% of respondents said they were considering the traditional four-year path, but only a few months later after lock downs and increased layoffs, only 53% of respondents said they were considering the same option.

Here in western New York, a 2020 report by U.B. and the John Oishei Foundation found more than 300,000 adults across the Buffalo Niagara region have no education beyond high school.

Tucker said he can understand why trade schools are gaining appeal. He said Northland provides hands on training with almost guaranteed job placement after completion. “The Buffalo Niagara Manufacturing Alliance, their members have more than 3,000 openings that they can’t fill every day. Careers like machining, welding, they’re dying for people.”

Those jobs can pay well, without shouldering the burden of paying off four years of college debt. According to Tucker, mechatronics students start out making $36,000 a year. The average starting salary for an electrician in Buffalo ranges from $37,000 to $61,000 a year.

Local economists agree, trade school jobs remain the hottest ticket in town.

“What we’re seeing looking at the employment numbers is that manufacturing is holding up pretty well. We’ve been adding some compared to the rest of the country. So, that’s a good thing,” said Buffalo State College Economics and Finance Professor, Fred Floss.

Floss said the finance sector is also stronger in western New York than the rest of the state. Floss said part of that stems from M&T Bank’s decision to set up shop inside the Seneca one tower.

Western New York continues to see the largest increase is in hospitality and leisure jobs. Although Floss expects that industry to slow down heading into the winter months.