New York State is distributing $9 million dollars to 66 organizations that host in-demand job skills training. State government representatives appeared Tuesday at Erie 1 BOCES, one of the recipients, to announce the Workforce Development Initiative funding.
The ceremony was held at the Erie 1 BOCES location on Walden Avenue in Cheektowaga. Town Supervisor Diane Benczkowski spoke of the need to get people working.
"The COVID-19 pandemic has affected thousands of workers in Western New York," she said. "Offering job training opportunities for our residents is the key to gaining skills, and getting residents back to work."
The initiative itself is funded through federal grant dollars, then divided among agencies identified by the state as essential training opportunities for people in an economy that was abruptly halted by COVID. The $9 million announced Tuesday will make it possible to train an estimated 3,600 New Yorkers.
"Maybe they have lost their job. Maybe they have gone to a job where they want to do a little bit better, they're underemployed. This is going to help them to get to another level," said State Senator Tim Kennedy, who joined Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul and Assemblymember Monica Wallace at the announcement.
Other Western New York recipients are Assembly House 150 in Buffalo, Buffalo Center for Arts and Technology, Mercy Flight, the Northland Workforce Training Center, Pfannenberg in Lancaster, and St. Bonaventure University.
Hochul revealed she is a former BOCES student.
"I would leave every day at noon to go on a bus to the BOCES in West Seneca and took a course called Government Studies, and as a 15-, 16-year-old in that program I traveled to Albany and spent time there learning about state government," she said. "Little did I know that I'd return there and someday have my own interns. I've always appreciated the gifts that BOCES gave me as an individual, to open my eyes to clear opportunities that perhaps I wouldn't have thought of. And that's brings us here today."