Building the pipeline.
People drive the economy. Our region has to stay focused on building the right workforce pipelines, now and for the future, or we will lose jobs in existing industries and be unable to attract new ones. UBRI has been at the workforce development table for many years. We have worked to build a track record of sound research methodologies and best practices to help the region create a flexible, inclusive and industry-driven workforce training and talent attraction environment that prepares workers for success and helps businesses thrive. Beginning with the 2010 Labor Market Assessment and initial Buffalo Billion research in 2011, UBRI began to leverage its learnings to pursue a wider range of talent and workforce research and projects that focus on understanding the landscape of workforce training to support regional target industries; aligning workforce training with employer needs; in-migration, tech talent attraction and retention; unemployment and underemployment; and barriers to work. UBRI is helping the region prepare an appropriately skilled workforce to meet labor needs while addressing the barriers to economic self-sufficiency for the region’s unemployed and underemployed populations.
Developing tomorrow’s workforce.
In years prior to 2020, the region experienced overall job growth, but also faced challenges in deploying all segments of its labor force, especially those with lower educational attainment. An under-supply of young, skilled workers raises concerns about future productivity and growth potential in a number of the region’s largest industries, like manufacturing and tech jobs. To fill potentially thousands of job openings available to workers at all education levels in the coming years, employers need help to rapidly identify pools of skilled workers and training programs that meet their needs. To do this, UBRI is supporting public and private sector leaders to increase targeted, employer-driven training; improve skills certifications and industry job ladders for new and existing workers; and reduce geographic and socio-economic isolation from jobs to build a strong workforce and address looming retirement cliffs.
Job training and upskilling existing workers is critical, but can only address part of the need. The region also needs to grow its labor pool by retaining college graduates, recruiting expats and new residents, and increasing overall in-migration. UBRI is part of a regional effort to create the infrastructure and programs needed to grow and retain a talented workforce to reverse WNY’s labor pool decline and ensure that regional employers have access to the talent they need to fill job openings and grow their businesses to support zand accelerate the regional economy.
Connecting key players to maximize impact.
A collaborative, unified effort to invest in people will provide an increased, positive economic impact on the region. Workforce development and talent attraction are complicated endeavors that benefit from the expertise of industry, higher education, business groups, non-profits and foundations. UBRI has assisted in bringing these groups together to demonstrate the power of thinking and acting collectively to design and implement evidence-based, flexible, inclusive, and industry-driven talent attraction and workforce training programs that increase economic opportunities and promote economic resilience.