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New York Training Center and State College Form Strategic Partnership

Dec. 4, 2019
The partnership benefits are valued at more than $10 million over five years.

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced a strategic partnership between Northland Workforce Training Center in Buffalo, New York, and SUNY Empire State College's Harry Van Arsdale Jr. School of Labor that will build on the Center's training model and will allow SUNY Empire to collaborate with the Center's CEO and management team, grow and put the Center on a path to long-term economic sustainability. Empire State College will provide NWTC with $10 million in academic, student, and other support over five years. 

"The workforce of Western New York has made remarkable progress since we began making strategic investments in the region to bring back jobs, and now we face a new challenge - making sure there are enough workers for these new jobs," Governor Cuomo said. "By partnering with SUNY Empire State College, the Northland Workforce Training Center will have the best available tools to train underrepresented populations in the region's workforce for the jobs that power a 21st century economy, and ensure Western New York continues to grow and thrive."

"I have seen firsthand how the Northland Workforce Training Center is transforming Buffalo's East Side and investing in our workforce for the jobs of today and tomorrow," said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. "Young people and workers mid-career have new pathways to success thanks to the work being done at Northland. With this forward-thinking partnership between SUNY Empire and Northland, we will continue to advance our efforts to support job training, innovation, and further economic growth in Western New York."     

The SUNY Empire-NWTC partnership will provide a long-term solution to continuing the Center's success and bolster ongoing efforts to best recruit, train, educate, place, research and train Western New York's workforce for the future, in a way that best meets the needs of local industry and is most inclusive to residents of the city's most challenged neighborhoods.

SUNY Empire's Harry Van Arsdale Jr. School of Labor will further expand its current footprint in Manhattan (with satellite offices around the state) with a new regional hub at NWTC in Buffalo. Plans call for the appointment of a new upstate director to work with the NWTC management team, board of directors, academic partners and local stakeholders over the next year to identify methods to best partner and strengthen the delivery of NWTC's curriculum and services.  As one example, SUNY Empire is capable of expanding labor apprenticeships in growing industries, such as green energy, through the creation of a Green Energy Workforce Training Certificate. This will complement Empire State Development's $2 million effort to fund and facilitate the installation of a solar array at Northland as part of Buffalo Billion Phase II, together with the establishment of a community solar program to provide low-cost power to the adjoining neighborhood and add to an emerging energy curriculum and lab at NWTC. 

SUNY Empire is uniquely prepared to not only strengthen the labor pipeline, but also to further benefit residents of the community with policies and programs that will include the following: 

Expand NWTC Curriculum with Additional Academic and Online Course Offerings

  • SUNY Empire will work with NWTC to locate its dedicated WNY staff and faculty at NWTC in order to provide additional academic and training support. Through SUNY Empire's 800-plus online courses and its Career Connector program, the Center will expand its academic offerings to include BA degrees, and a next generation of local teachers will help train the incoming labor students.  A primary goal will be to identify prospective teachers in the pipeline at high schools and community colleges to create the next generation of teachers most reflective of the local community and to create residency teacher partnerships with teaching assistantships.

Give Students College Credit for Previous Labor Training and Life Experience

  • In this program, SUNY Empire will evaluate apprenticeship programs for college credits, and combine these credits with general education credits for a fast track to an associate's or bachelor's degree in addition to the student's apprenticeship program. Through this "prior learning assessment"—college credits for life experience and other on the job training programs—SUNY Empire will offer students the opportunity to earn college credit for Northland's workforce training programs and all associated apprenticeships. Its ability to evaluate college level learning in licensure, volunteer work, military, in-service course, and independent reading and study will become the model gateway to a new workforce pipeline. 

Commitment to Community Development

  • Equal Opportunity Program (EOP): Buffalo will ultimately become a host site for SUNY Empire's new EOP Program, the first SUNY EOP that focuses on non-traditional students. The program offers 20 students the opportunity to work in a cluster to promote high success rates. Workshops and tailored supports will be provided on site. 
  • Basic Needs Service Coordinator: SUNY Empire will strengthen NWTC's wraparound efforts by appointing a dedicated basic needs service coordinator to help students and workers address unmet needs for food, transportation, housing and overall wellness security, and to ensure that no one has to suffer academically for economic reasons. 
  • Educational Opportunity Center (EOC): This will continue and expand NWTC's partnerships with the University at Buffalo EOC to identify career and education pathways through SUNY Empire or other SUNY colleges. 
  • Empire State Career Connector: This unique partnership between SUNY Empire and the New York State Department of Labor (NYSDOL) will align training and education needs to the job demand identified by the local workforce boards and the Regional Economic Development Councils. It will then connect people to jobs by providing on-site NYSDOL job counselors, working alongside SUNY Empire staff, to work with students to determine what additional education or training they needed to qualify for specific jobs.  

The workforce of Western New York has made a remarkable progress since we began making strategic investments in the region to bring back jobs, and now we face a new challenge - making sure there are enough workers for these new jobs.

Expand Labor Policy Research to Buffalo  

  • A joint partnership between SUNY Empire and the Rockefeller Institute of Government will expand the new Future of Labor Research Center to work with local partners in Buffalo and Western NY to track growth and identify workforce needs. This research identifies current trends and needs as well as flex programs to fill the gap. A Research Fellow will be appointed specifically in Buffalo to study the SUNY Empire-NWTC training programs as well as broader economic and labor issues emerging in WNY.

SUNY Empire State College President Jim Malatras said, "SUNY Empire is a leader in flexible, personalized education for working students, as well as in awarding college credit for work and life experience, and our Harry Van Arsdale Jr. School of Labor has a nearly 50-year history of partnering with labor and communities to upskill workers. This exciting partnership with Governor Cuomo's forward-thinking Northland Workforce Training Center will create a powerful engine of workforce development that will bring far-reaching benefits to the people of Buffalo and Western New York." 

Northland Workforce Training Center President & CEO Stephen Tucker said, "We could not be more excited about our new partnership with SUNY Empire State College that will ensure the long-term sustainability of the successful model deployed at NWTC. Northland is now well-positioned to prepare Western New Yorkers for high paying advanced manufacturing and clean energy careers for many years to come.

Empire State Development Acting Commissioner and President & CEO-designate Eric Gertler said, "The high-demand skills and training developed at Northland Workforce Training Center are critical to success in in-demand industries in Western New York. The SUNY Empire partnership ensures NWTC's sustainability as well as further growth and opportunity across the region." 

SUNY Chancellor Kristina M. Johnson said, "The Northland Workforce Training Center is a model for partnering higher education, industry and job training for the in-demand jobs of tomorrow. I congratulate Governor Cuomo for once again ha​ving the strategic vision to invest in workers and send a clear message that in New York, we will continue to supply the skilled and trained workforce that employers depend on.” 

While in Buffalo, Governor Cuomo also announced that Round 2 of the Western New York Workforce Development Challenge will open on December 16, 2019. The $10 million program, part of Buffalo Billion II, is designed to promote and invest in regionally-tailored approaches to workforce training for underserved populations organizations in Erie, Niagara, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua and Allegany counties. 

The Workforce Development Challenge will help increase the capacity of community-based trainers who have proven track records, trusted community relationships, and outstanding abilities for outreach and recruitment. In addition, it will support programs in the region's target sectors currently experiencing growth, including advanced manufacturing, health and life sciences, technology, tourism, energy, and agriculture by providing training for unemployed, underemployed, and/or career ladder opportunities for entry-level and mid-skill workers. 

Governor Cuomo announced in December 2018 that $4.2 million in funding from the first round the Western New York Workforce Development Challenge was awarded to six local not-for-profit organizations and their projects: WNY Rural Area Health Education Center, Harvest House, Erie 2-Chautauqua-Cattaraugus BOCES, Gerard Place, Adult Educational Opportunity Center of Genesee Community College with Orleans-Niagara BOCES and PUSH Buffalo. 

Representative Brian Higgins said, "Northland is a hub for hands-on training and educational advancement that positions job seekers and those looking to expand job skills for opportunities in quality, high demand fields.  This partnership grows and strengthens Northland's offerings to the benefit of workers and Western New York businesses."

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