As employers struggle to find qualified workers to fill openings, local business and education officials said they are preparing job-seekers of all ages for employment and hoping to avoid a possible workforce crisis.
The Otsego County Chamber of Commerce will present training next month for dislocated workers interested in working at manufacturing firms, which officials said have vacancies.
Commerce Chenango is promoting a high school-based initiative to link students with local careers. And the Delaware County Chamber of Commerce is working with local educators on training and employment programs.
“Workforce development — it's critical,” Ray Pucci, president of the Delaware County Chamber in Delhi said Thursday. “This is going to be one of our priorities in 2018.”
Pucci said local companies are reporting that older workers will be retiring in the next 10 years, creating hundreds of job openings.
“Do we have the trained workers for that?” Pucci said. “That' a critical question.”
Finding the answer must be a multifaceted approach involving middle schools, high school, educators at various levels, companies and employment agencies, Pucci said.
“There are good careers here,” he said. “There's training that needs to be done.”
Meanwhile on Thursday, about 70 job recruiters were at the State University College at Oneonta speaking with students about full- and part-time jobs, internships and other opportunities, organizers said. Employers representing businesses, nonprofit organizations, health care providers and others were sharing information at an annual job fair in the SUNY Oneonta Hunt College Union.
Safat Mohammad, a SUNY Oneonta senior who transferred from SUNY Columbia-Greene Community College, said he was at the job fair to find an internship. Mohammad said he has some computer programming skills but is studying computer art and hopes an internship will give him experience for regular employment.
“I'm going where the job is,” said Mohammad, 22, of Hudson.
Alan Sessions, outreach coordinator with the CDO Workforce, was among presenters at SUNY Oneonta on Thursday.
The CDO Workforce helps job-seekers from a range of backgrounds. Next month, the Chenango-Delaware-Otsego Workforce offices in Oneonta and Norwich and the Otsego Chamber of Commerce will offer a course in Oneonta for dislocated workers seeking manufacturing jobs.
The SUNY Broome Manufacturing Skills course will be presented at the Otsego County Chamber of Commerce at 189 Main St. downtown from March 5 to 16.
Sessions said there is a skill gap locally between the employment pool and manufacturing jobs available. Each firm has different skills requirements for employees, Sessions said, and the course will provide participants with basic skills and knowledge and prepare them for further on-the-job training.
“We're happy to bring this to the area,” Sessions said.
The free course is supported by a $75,000 grant from the state Department of Labor to the the State University Broome Community College, according o organizers.
Candidates must be screened at a CDO Workforce office for eligibility determination, organizers said, and the deadline to apply for the course is Feb. 28.
Dislocated workers include someone who has been terminated or laid off, organizers said, or self-employed workers unable to find a job because of economic condition or a displaced homemaker.
The course will be offered from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays March 5 to 16.
The manufacturing certification course consists of training on hand tool usage; shop floor math; reading measuring devices; assembly drawing interpretation; technical report writing; quality overview; and computer basics. Participants must score an average of 80 percent or better on post-tests to be certified, presenters said, and completion of the program guarantees interview time with manufacturing firms at a job fair.
To apply to take the course, contact Tylena Daniels at (607) 334-2201, ext. 128, at the Norwich CDO Workforce NY Center, 1 O'Hara Drive, or Deb Barton at (607) 432-4800, ext. 115, at the Oneonta CDO office at 12 Dietz St.
Sessions said locally other openings exist at retail, health care and other businesses, and that high school graduates motivated to learn may find employment.
Steve Craig, president and chief executive officer of Commerce Chenango, said the Norwich-based organization and some public school educators are working a career initiative for public school students.
Statewide, and locally, Craig said, there aren't enough “workers whose abilities match the needs of employers.”
In a program under development at Commerce Chenango, administrators and staff from schools in Oxford and Unadilla Valley and at Milford’s Career Opportunities in Rural Education Institute are working to create pathways that lead from high school to careers with area employers.
“Pathways” creators have proposed creative scheduling that puts more instructional minutes into the school day and classes that result in workplace credentials and academic credits, according to Craig, who described it as “a work in progress.”
On Thursday, DHL Supply Chain attended the SUNY Oneonta job fair Thursday for the first time, said company recruiter Douglas E. McLaughlin. The Bonn, Germany-based company has about 480,000 employees worldwide and about 40,000 in the U.S., he said, with the closest office in Johnstown, New York.
McLaughlin said the company was looking Thursday to hire college graduates for supervisory positions. But the firm also has openings for laborers, fork-lift operators and other jobs, he said.
“We train,” McLaughlin said. “What we really need is someone who will show up every day and be enthusiastic.”
Denise Richardson, staff writer, may be reached at (607) 441-7213 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @DS_DeniseR