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Steve Davis, President of Tapecon talks about the challenges and opportunities of workforce development in the manufacturing sector and his involvement as Chair of the Buffalo Niagara Partnership Manufacturers’ Council….

I’ve been honored to be working alongside other BNP member manufacturers as Chair of the BNP Manufacturers Council.  The Council helps create value for manufacturing members of the BNP (and all manufacturers in the region) through programming connecting industry peers and provides services that support, promote, and assist the advanced manufacturing sector’s growth and expansion in Buffalo Niagara.  The council focuses on prioritizing programming for the year as well as promoting an advocacy agenda that rolls up to the Buffalo Niagara Partnership regional advocacy agenda.

The BNP hosted a Manufacturing Month kickoff event on 10/6/15 which was a great success.  I was one of the panelists following a great presentation from Gardner Carrick from the Manufacturing Institute.  More on the kickoff can be found here: http://www.thepartnership.org/blog/manufacturing-month-kickoff-draws-crowd)/?_cldee=c3RldmVkQHRhcGVjb24uY29t

David Robinson from the Buffalo News also wrote a great article from the kickoff highlighting the challenges and panel insights:  http://www.buffalonews.com/columns/david-robinson/selling-manufacturing-jobs-starts-with-a-tour-20151011?_cldee=c3RldmVkQHRhcGVjb24uY29t

Workforce development has been named the top priority for our 2016 action agenda and for good reason.  With 68,000 current manufacturing jobs in the Buffalo Niagara in which 17,000 will become available by 2020, there is a major sense of urgency to address the “skills gap”.

We have broken up the opportunity into three categories:

  • Develop an adequate baseline skill level for incoming workers
  • Ensure upskilling opportunities for existing employees
  • Grow the long-term manufacturing pipeline

October 20th was our Full Council meeting kickoff where we heard a presentation from Todd Tranum on the Dream It Do It program, as well as a group breakout where manufacturers discussed the three focus categories of workforce development in detail.  I’m looking forward to bringing that input into a more specific action agenda to address the challenges of today.  Highlights include the support of Dream It Do It for a future pipeline and Adopt-a-school program, employee evaluation and training programs to support the existing workforce to prepare for tomorrow’s job needs, and just general awareness of baseline skill requirements for all incoming workers.

We have a long way to go but what a great start!

-Steve Davis, President of Tapecon Inc.