Customized Workforce Training: Bringing Skills To The Market

Workforce training programs are addressing evolving industries, labor force demands, and speed to market needs of business.

Genesee County, New York: Workforce Supports Semiconductor Industry

By locating in the center of the compact Buffalo-Rochester Tech Corridor, businesses are finding talent across a broad spectrum of training levels. This includes: semiconductor engineers from the Rochester Institute of Technology; CNC technicians from the Northlands Workforce Training Center on Buffalo’s East Side; and upskilled manufacturing professionals graduating from the Finger Lakes Forward Center.

The density and quality of workforce talent is supporting Edwards as that semiconductor industry manufacturer launches a 600-job “Factory of the Future” at the STAMP Mega Site in Genesee County.

“We view Genesee County, and the Buffalo-Rochester region, as just a great place to populate this factory with everybody from operators and assemblers, right through to management,” said Scott Balaguer, Edwards Global Vice President for Business Development.

Workforce Training
Students gain hands-on experiences with employers at GLOW With Your Hands career exploration events each fall and spring. More than 1,600 participated in these events in the 2022-23 school year. (Photo: Genesee County Economic Development Center)


With leading universities enrolling 30,000 engineering and technician students annually, and large training networks in place, the Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC)has leveraged its community-focused expertise to target talent growth across younger demographics.

The GCEDC’s partners range from: a four-county GLOW Workforce Development Board; Genesee Valley’s 22-school BOCES; National Grid; and employers like Liberty Pumps and Graham Manufacturing. GLOW With Your Hands, a day-long hands-on career experience festival, highlights the innovative programs guiding youth to manufacturing and the skilled trades.

“Having those resources in our region, we can focus on being a magnet for innovative programs, accelerate engagement with STEM careers at earlier ages, and specialize for the industries we are attracting,” said Chris Suozzi, the GCEDC’s Vice President of Business and Workforce Development. “It’s all about effectiveness. Our students and employers experience ‘try-before-you-buy’ connections that build a strong relationship ahead of hiring.”

As over 1,000 high school students took their turns at GLOW With Your Hands welding simulators, operated backhoes, and tested their skills on equipment from the Batavia Career & Technical Education Center’s mechatronics lab, New York State Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon took in the scene: “Where are the workers of the future? They’re right here.”

Suozzi noted events like GLOW With Your Hands are keeping pace with a calendar of groundbreakings and site visits to the 1,800 acres of business parks rapidly filling up in Genesee County.

In addition to Edwards, another 1,000 jobs have popped into a food processing cluster in Batavia, led by HP Hood, O-AT-KA Milk Products, and Upstate Niagara Cooperative. Over 2 million square feet of new logistics facilities planned along the county’s western Interstate 90 interchange have been announced since September 2022.

“The local cooperation from all of the (workforce and business) entities has just been outstanding. It’s reinforced our decision to come to this area.”

It all comes back to workforce. Over five weeks in Spring 2023, over 1,600 students participating in what GCEDC’s Suozzi coined “March Workforce Madness.” Students overlapped with a healthcare-focused GLOW With Your Hands; battled in STEM competitions at the 14th annual Tech Wars; completed a Cornell University food and beverage career boot camp; and signed on as youth apprentices to companies at an NFL Draft-themed program.

“This is the evolution of business and workforce development,” Suozzi said.

Edwards’ Balaguer agrees: “The local cooperation from all of the (workforce and business) entities has just been outstanding. It’s reinforced our decision to come to this area.”

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