As our area workforce remains in tight mode with continuing economic growth in manufacturing and other regional sectors, it should come as no surprise that the North Country Chamber and our subsidiary, NAmTrans, have been in active discussion with our member employers and our workforce development partners to identify new programs and approaches we can pursue for the new year in addition to all that has been done on many fronts in the past year. The result is a multi-faceted initiative we are calling NORTH COUNTRY WORKS, and it was presented and finalized at the Chamber’s recent Annual Strategic Planning Retreat.
The core elements have been submitted to the State of New York for funding consideration through the Governor’s Workforce Development Initiative, and have been posed as the first year of what can hopefully become a multi-year commitment.
The lead partners are the North Country Chamber, the North Country Workforce Development Board, the Workforce Development Institute (WDI) and CITEC Business Solutions. More than a dozen other partner organizations will be directly involved in one or more of the components, which include:
- CUSTOMIZED WORKFORCE TRAINING responsive to the needs of specific employers, especially manufacturers. If funded, elements will include on-the-job training support, incumbent worker skills advancement, additional supervisory/management/leadership training, and LEAN manufacturing support.
- CHILDCARE ACCESS/EXPANSION: Joining with the Plattsburgh YMCA and the North Country Child Care Coordinating Council, we are looking to expand child care capacity to in turn facilitate and sustain employment. We are seeking state funding support for a feasibility study for the YMCA that can broadly provide informational support for future growth, while also supporting the YMCA’s separate request for a first phase of capital funding for expansion.
- WOMEN IN MANUFACTURING: As a first step toward creating effective strategies for growing the participation of women in our diverse manufacturing base (in addition to childcare), we seek to engage Clarkson University in a meaningful study and action plan.
- STEAM AHEAD SUMMER CAMPS: We are requesting state support for further summer camp programs designed to introduce 6th-8th graders to STEAM careers through project-based learning.
- APPRENTICESHIP AWARENESS: We look to launch an apprenticeship awareness campaign with our partners at the WDI.
- CAREER PATHWAYS: And we look to raise awareness of and participation in existing career pathway initiatives in the area such as AIME, RAMP, Ready 4 Real, SFL- TAP and MHAB.
Among the partners in NORTH COUNTRY WORKS not already mentioned are Clinton Community College, CV-TEC, North Country Community College, United Way, the Development Corporation and our area IDA’s, among others. And the overall effort will continue to include our strong promotional, facilitative and government affairs support for the Institute for Advanced Manufacturing at CCC and for CV-TEC, including advocacy in various ways in Washington and Albany.
NORTH COUNTRY WORKS is ambitious and multi-faceted but needs to be both as we work to help meet the growing and changing needs of our employers and support sustained economic vitality in our region.
More to come.