July 2014

Training Tomorrow’s Manufacturing Talent

School may be out for the summer, but New York State is learning some important lessons about training tomorrow’s manufacturing workforce. From Buffalo to the Capital Region, the public and private sectors are working together to fill the manufacturing skills gap. Meanwhile, “the world of manufacturing is changing very rapidly,” explains Linda Shadler, professor and associate dean of engineering at RPI.
At Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) in Troy, the Manufacturing Innovation Learning Lab plans to add programs, equipment, and advanced manufacturing space. The project is still in the development phase, but RPI is targeting technologies such as 3D printing and micro and nano machining. At nearby Hudson Valley Community College (HVCC), an advanced manufacturing program is already underway.

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Is NYS the Northeast’s TBED Leader?

How does New York compare to other northeastern states in terms of technology-based economic development (TBED)? According to SSTI, a non-profit group that supports efforts to strengthen economies through technology and innovation, TBED requires a multi-faceted approach. In addition to research capacity and a skilled workforce, economies need capital along with initiatives to commercialize research.
In the past year, New York State has eliminated the income tax for manufacturers and established a 20% property tax credit. The Empire State is also meeting its investment commitment to the Buffalo Billion initiative, a regional effort that will create a high-tech manufacturing hub, help commercialize research at the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, and support the Edison Welding Institute center.

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Buffalo Is Building Tomorrow’s Manufacturing Workforce

The City of Buffalo and the Buffalo Niagara Partnership have announced a paid-internship program that will connect area manufacturers with local high school and college students who are interested in engineering and advanced manufacturing careers. The six-week program is part of larger, regional and national efforts to train the manufacturing workforce of tomorrow.
Today, many Buffalo-area employers are unable to find qualified candidates for advanced manufacturing positions. By 2020, regional employers will need to fill an estimated 17,000 advanced manufacturing jobs. In addition to engineers and supervisors, local companies will need to hire welders, CNC machine operators, and industrial mechanics.

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Who Will Fill Manufacturing’s Toolbox?

During a recent visit to Pittsburgh, President Obama promised to provide small-to-medium manufacturers with the tooling they need to help themselves. “I can’t rent the Space Shuttle to you,” he joked, “but there are areas where we can enhance what is already being done by companies like TechShop,” a Steel City business that is lending production tools and equipment to local manufacturers.
On that same day, the White House announced that the Administration would offer entrepreneurs easier access to high-tech resources at more than 700 federal R&D facilities, including NASA’s National Center for Advanced Manufacturing in New Orleans. To speed the development of innovative materials, five federal agencies will also spend more than $150-million to support the Material Genome Initiative.

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