Norris’ Workforce Development Task Force Shares Its Findings
A Column from Assemblyman Mike Norris (R,C-Lockport)
After years of taking a hard look at workforce development in New York state and how that landscape has changed in light of the global COVID-19 pandemic, I am pleased to share that the task force I convened on this topic has now put out its report. Our report is filled with comprehensive solutions to make our state economy more competitive, enable businesses to better partner with schools and institutions of higher learning and— most importantly—prepare students to pursue meaningful pathways for professional careers they will enjoy and give them the financial independence they need to pursue the American Dream in close to the communities they call home.
Here in Western New York, people work hard and I wanted to showcase our determination and innovative spirit to inspire the future of workforce development. After creating the Assembly Minority Conference’s Task Force on Learning for Work, I made sure we kicked it off right here at the Orleans County BOCES’ Niagara Career and Technical Education Center.
This event was held on Oct. 15, 2019 to shine a light on the wide array of technical skills students can acquire through the BOCES program. Part of our goal is to change the typecast that some may still have when it comes to BOCES. This is a state-of-the-art apprenticeship program that prepares young people for trained, professional skills careers. These jobs are in demand right now and rewarding.
Our task force brought together students, lawmakers, educators and employers to discuss what was working and what wasn’t. After this event, I toured the entire state—all the way down to Long Island—to hold similar forums with stakeholders in each region, see other training programs, and hear what people had to say.
The pandemic was something we could not have foreseen and, as you know, it changed everything in terms of education and how people do business. We reached back out to stakeholders and revisited our findings.
The results are compiled into a 28-page report, which you can read here. Some highlights from our plan include:
- Enhancing BOCES;
- Expanding P-TECH;
- Explore changes in higher education;
- Remove bureaucratic barriers;
- Allowing for college credits for students in apprenticeship programs; and
- Ensuring students of all socioeconomic backgrounds are eligible for youth apprenticeships by providing transportation, equipment and other materials.
The plan has been shared with Gov. Hochul and all legislative leaders. I hope they will take action to make these recommendations a reality.
I am immensely proud of this work, and the patience and perseverance of the participants. This plan is stronger and will make our workforce and economy much stronger as a result.
The pandemic has reminded everyone of the importance of family. Ultimately, that’s what our plan is about. Enabling today’s students for rewarding, financially-viable careers that will allow them to stay in the communities they love, close to family, and continue to call home for generations to come.