WDI has a particular interest in the Manufacturing sector. It’s worthwhile to explain some of the history around this focus.
During the first few years after the recession, as the country was still in recovery mode, our Regional Directors began to notice that Manufacturing as a sector was making a slow but steady comeback in NYS. Calls were coming in from companies with increasing frequency, all with similar messages –
- "We have demand at the door to which we can't respond because we need some help".
- "We could go after new markets or bigger contracts with a little help".
- "The quality of our goods is much better than abroad. We need to capitalize on this opportunity".
- "We'd like to pull lines of production back from overseas because we see improved opportunities here".
In all of these situations there were distinct opportunities for the workforce. Potential growth meant new jobs. Installation of new technologies meant a chance for workers to gain new skills and move ahead. Many companies wanted help moving individuals up into supervisory roles. Other companies wanted help resurrecting old apprenticeship titles, or starting new ones.
In 2014, the NYS Legislature allocated funding to WDI to focus specifically on helping manufacturing grow and thrive in NYS, and we have been doing significant work in this sector since then.
From a workforce perspective, manufacturing has some advantages over other sectors:
- There are relatively low barriers for entry (i.e. there are a wide range of jobs available to those without formal education)
- There are opportunities to move up quickly via experience or stackable credentials
- In general, this sector’s entry level jobs pay higher wages than many other sectors.
Despite these advantages, there was a long period of time where manufacturing was not a focus for the state (or the country), and therefore we have some work to do to strengthen the sector. Currently, there are many good manufacturing jobs - in every region of NYS - that are going unfilled either because of alack of awareness, or because people are lacking specific skills or certifications. We are working to address both of these gaps in a variety of ways.