Similar workforce goals, issues shared

JOHNSTOWN — Fulton and Montgomery counties share similar same workforce issues than other counties in this region of New York state, a local development official says.

Gail B. Breen, executive director of the Amsterdam-based Fulton/Montgomery/Schoharie Counties Workforce Development Board, recently presented a Mohawk Valley regional plan for 2017 to Fulton County supervisors.

The Fulton County Board of Supervisors’ Economic Development and Environment Committee reviewed the regional plan, which was made public at the County Office Building. The plan is submitted to the state Department of Labor.

Breen told supervisors that pursuant to the federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act of 2014, the Fulton/Montgomery/Schoharie Counties Workforce Development Board is “responsible for developing, integrating and coordinating a workforce development system to meet the needs of businesses and provides career opportunities for workers.”

“It’s a regional plan,” Breen said Friday. “We looked at the rest of the Mohawk Valley.”

The plan notes that with a collection and analysis of regional labor market data, “it is easy to document the abundance of middle skill job openings across the Mohawk Valley Region in health care.”

The report says examples of such jobs are registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, radiologic technologists, physical therapists and other healthcare workers.

“In light of an aging population, particularly in upstate New York, and the retirement of many older workers, the need for new health care workers in the pipeline will be ongoing for the foreseeable future.”

Breen said there are many similarities with respect to jobs in the area, but there are also differences between Fulton, Montgomery, Schoharie counties; and Herkimer, Madison, Oneida counties, which makes up the western part of the region.

“We have advanced manufacturing and health care,” Breen said. “Herkimer, Madison, Oneida have aerospace.”

The plan found is it also “easy to document” the many middle skill job openings across the Mohawk Valley Region in advanced manufacturing and associated fields such as transportation.

“While the belief is that manufacturing is no longer a demand occupation in upstate New York, the fact is that the industry has not gone away, but that it has changed,” the report said.

Examples of medium to high priority advanced manufacturing jobs include: computer-controlled machine tool operators, machinists, welders, electricians, heating, air conditioning and refrigeration mechanics, multiple machine tool setters, fork lift operators, automotive service technicians and mechanics, and commercial truck drivers.

“Recently, agri-business is dramatically increasing along with craft brewing, distilling and farm-to-table initiatives,” the plan said. “Our industrial base has kept pace with dairy processing expansion and innovation, producing for local, downstate and global markets. The region is positioned to serve a growing demand for sustainably-produced craft foods and beverages to domestic and international markets. This continued growth will lead to more jobs and enhanced wages in our communities.”

The plan said the region is also fostering growing tourism, with that sector employing more than 25,000 in the Mohawk Valley. Jobs in the tourism sector tend to be more entry-level and provide “hard to serve workers” with opportunities to gain skills and experience, the plan said.

“All of these industry sectors show job demand and growth across the region,” the plan said.

By Patricia Older

Leave a Reply