The Western New York Regional Economic Development Council announced that Dream It. Do It. (DIDI) Western NY is moving forward with the first stages of the $500,000 award it received as part of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's Regional 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.
"There are numerous manufacturing jobs available in Western New York," said Empire State Development Regional President Sam Hoyt. "The problem we have is that many people are not aware these jobs exist and don't have the skills necessary to fit into today's advanced manufacturing workforce. 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. is an initiative to promote manufacturing careers and bring key stakeholders from the private, public and education sector together to address this challenge. I am pleased that we have the opportunity to help this initiative expand throughout the Western New York region."
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.
Left to right: Todd Tranum, Executive Director of the Manufacturers Association of the Southern Tier and Dream It Do It Western New York, joins Sam Hoyt, Empire State Development Regional President, Jace Wilkins, Director of Communications for the Manufacturing Institute and affiliation of the National Association of Manufacturers and Jack Quinn, President of Erie Community College to announce the expansion of Dream It Do It in Western New York.
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.
David Porter, plant manager of the Cummins Jamestown Plant said, "We have benefited significantly from this initiative. We have seen positive results for our company through a variety of activities coordinated by DIDI both here and in Southeast Indiana. We have invested in it as a company by opening our doors to student tours, hosting interns, delivering high school curriculum at our facility, participating in career events and putting financial resources into the program. It is my hope that we can get more manufacturers to participate and benefit in the same way we have."
Chris Napoleon, president of Olean-based Napoleon Engineering said, "Working with DIDI leaders from Chautauqua County, the initiative has been expanded into Cattaraugus and Allegany counties to support manufacturers' workforce needs. I can tell you firsthand that DIDI has had a positive impact on my company. I can walk through my facility and see employees working on machines and interns working in a variety of capacities, who came to us through the network created through DIDI. It is imperative that manufacturers throughout the region embrace this model. There is strength in numbers and we must work together to address our workforce needs."
Todd Tranum, president/CEO of the Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce and executive director of the Manufacturers Association of the Southern Tier and Dream It. Do It. Western New York 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. We are excited to be part of a partnership of stakeholders working together to expand this initiative to support manufacturers throughout the Western New York region. Specifically I want to thank the Buffalo Niagara Partnership and Niagara USA for working with us to expand this initiative into Erie and Niagara counties."
Chautauqua County started its DIDI program in 2009 and it is making a difference. "Since we started the program, we have reached an estimated 7,000 middle and high school students who have participated in a wide range of events including career fairs, in school presentations, lean manufacturing training, robotics competitions and technology tours of local industries and community colleges," stated David Johnson, DIDI Coordinator for Chautauqua County. "In addition, we have seen an enrollment increase of 42 percent in the technology programs at the Manufacturing Technology Institute at Jamestown Community College and strong participation by our mid-size and large manufacturers with over 90 percent of them participating in the DIDI initiative. We have also launched 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."
Last year, a total of $785 million was awarded through the Consolidated Funding Application (CFA) for job creation and community development projects consistent with each region's strategic plans. To learn more about each regional council and their economic development plans, visit www.regionalcouncils.ny.gov.