Dream It Do It to help manufacturers develop workforce
By TODD TRANUM
President and CEO of the Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce & Executive Director of the Manufacturers Association of the Southern Tier
Workforce development in Western New York took a major step forward in the past week. Dream It Do It, which has already made inroads in Chautauqua County, announced the first stages of expansion into Erie and Niagara Counties.
DIDI WNY is beginning to implement the $500,000 grant award it received as part of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo's Western New York Regional Economic Development Council initiative. This project involves the coordination of a regional initiative to promote advanced manufacturing and the careers offered by the advanced manufacturing sector. It will implement a work plan consisting of regional marketing, events and internship and apprenticeship opportunities.
DIDI is a national campaign started by The Manufacturing Institute, an affiliate of the National Association of Manufacturers, to address the growing shortage of talented and skilled workers in the manufacturing industry. Chautauqua County was the first county in New York state to implement the program and the initiative grew into Cattaraugus and Allegany counties. It will now expand into Erie and Niagara counties.
There are manufacturing jobs available in Western New York. The problem is that many people don't have the skills needed to fit into today's advanced manufacturing workforce. The Manufacturing Institute's 2011 Skills Gap Report indicates that over 80 percent of manufacturers report moderate to serious shortages of qualified talent in the hiring pool, notably in skilled production. An estimated 600,000 jobs go unfilled today in manufacturing because of this challenge.
"We hear it constantly from our manufacturers in the region and it has become a problem that will only get worse as more people retire. Dream it Do It promotes manufacturing careers and brings key stakeholders from the private, public and education sector together to address this challenge," Empire State Development Regional President Sam Hoyt said.
"We have heard from manufacturers throughout the United States about their challenges in finding the workforce that meets their needs," Jacey Wilkins, Director of Communications for The Manufacturing Institute, said. "In response, the Manufacturing Institute started the Dream It Do It initiative to engage, educate and employ the next generation of manufacturing talent. DIDI is a national brand with a presence in over 20 states, but it is the local creativity and action that realizes actual impact in communities."
Chautauqua County started its DIDI program in 2009 and it is making a difference. Since its inception in 2009, DIDI in Chautauqua County has reached an estimated 7,000 middle and high school students who have participated in a wide range of events including career fairs, school presentations, lean manufacturing training, robotics competitions and technology tours of local industries and community colleges. Enrollment in the technology programs at the Manufacturing Technology Institute at Jamestown Community College has increased 42 percent, and over 90 percent of mid-size and large manufacturers in Chautauqua County participate in the initiative.
"We have also launched a teacher work experience program, summer internship program and facilitated the development of a school to work partnership between Cummins Inc. and the Dunkirk Public School System. We need to continue to increase the awareness among the students, teachers, counselors and parents about the many strong manufacturers that we have locally and the many different careers available in these organizations," Dave Johnson, Chautauqua County DIDI Coordinator, said.
Dream It Do It is yet another example of how a private-public-educational partnership can be successful. Working together we are getting positive results. The Manufacturers Association of the Southern Tier and the Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce are proud and excited to partner with stakeholders throughout the Western New York region to expand this initiative in support of our manufacturing community.
Chamber Golf Tournament Sept. 7
Enjoy a fabulous day of golf, prizes and dinner with other Chamber members during the Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce Annual Golf Tournament, Sept. 7 at the Chautauqua Golf Club.
The tournament is sponsored by DFT Communications, County of Chautauqua Industrial Development Agency, Fredonia Place, Lawley-Tradition LLC, National Fuel Gas Distribution Corporation, NRG Dunkirk Power LLC, Petri Baking Products, Inc., Ed Shults Chevrolet, Inc., GHD Consulting Engineers, Community Bank, N.A., Liazon Corporation, Lake Shore Savings Bank, OBSERVER and The Post-Journal. You can register through the Chamber website or by calling the Chamber at 366-6200 or 484-1101.