The City of Buffalo has always been considered a blue-collar town. However, with many in the baby-boom generation at or nearing retirement, there is a need to introduce and educate a younger generation to jobs that will be available in the coming years.
Part of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Buffalo Billion project is to turn Northland Avenue, on the city’s East Side, into a hub for job training in the manufacturing and energy sector.
Stephen Tucker, President and CEO of the Northland Workforce Training Center, introduced the first training session on Saturday. Tucker said there is a great need to fill these positions.
“So really, the reason why the workforce training center was created was because it’s projected that we will have to fill over 20,000 advanced manufacturing and energy sector jobs over the next 10 years due to an aging work force and attrition, and we don’t have enough younger workers in the pipeline to fill those positions,” Tucker said.
What many people may not realize is entry level positions for these range from $30,000-$50,000. Tucker said young people who may not want to go to college can still get a useful education and job that pays well.
“We are not lacking the jobs, the jobs are here. We are lacking the skill, the young talent to fill those jobs," he said. "Buffalo is a blue-collar city and a blue-collar town, but that’s mainly for the Gen-Xers as well as the Baby Boomers. But when you talk to Millennials, we don’t have enough Millennials to fill the pipeline.”
Tucker went on to say that the training center is “providing a great opportunity” for those who want a job in the manufacturing and energy sector. One problem that he sees is trying to get the word out to young people.
“So I think the biggest challenge is making people understand or raising the awareness of these opportunities that provide great wages so that folks can have a sustainable life.”
The center is approximately 100,000 square feet, with space for classrooms and labs. It is scheduled to open in the fall.