Ex­perts come to­gether in Troy to dis­cuss Work­force Devel­op­ment

The Record (Troy, NY) - - LOCAL NEWS - By Lau­ren Hal­li­gan lhal­li­gan@dig­i­tal­first­media.com @Lau­renTheRecord on Twitter

TROY, N.Y.» Mem­bers of the Rens­se­laer County busi­ness com­mu­nity spent some time this week fo­cus­ing on work­force devel­op­ment.

Event-go­ers heard from a panel of lo­cal ex­perts dur­ing a pro­gram called Work­force Devel­op­ment in Rens­se­laer County on Tues­day morn­ing at the Tech Val­ley Cen­ter of Grav­ity.

The gath­er­ing, part of a Ca­reer Devel­op­ment series by the Down­town Troy Busi­ness Im­prove­ment Dis­trict, was also pre­sented by the Rens­se­laer County Re­gional Cham­ber of Com­merce.

The panelists brought in to dis­cuss work­force devel­op­ment were Dan Cullen of the Work­force Devel­op­ment In­sti­tute, Rens­se­laer County’s com­mis­sioner of em­ploy­ment and train­ing Brian Wil­liams, Aver­ill Park Cen­tral School Dis­trict co­or­di­na­tor of spe­cial projects Bar­bara Goldstein and Bryan Baszcuk, an em­ploy­ment spe­cial­ist with ACCES VR.

Th­ese speak­ers each de­scribed their roles in the work­force devel­op­ment field, while dis­cussing cur­rent is­sues and ini­tia­tives around work­force devel­op­ment in Rens­se­laer County.

Cullen shared about trends and ini­tia­tives the Work­force Devel­op­ment In­sti­tute is work­ing on to ad­dress the work­force needs of busi­nesses in the re­gion. “If you can’t find a work­force, you have to build

a work­force,” he ex­plained men­tion­ing pro­grams at BOCES and area com­mu­nity col­leges like Hud­son Val­ley Com­mu­nity Col­lege, which make sure grad­u­ates have the skills re­quired for em­ploy­ment.

While there is great fo­cus on ad­vanced man­u­fac­tur­ing as of re­cently through­out the re­gion, Cullen also spoke about a lesser known but sur­pris­ingly large em­ploy­ment sector in the Cap­i­tal Dis­trict: the cre­ative econ­omy. Ac­cord­ing to the Al­liance for the Cre­ative Econ­omy, the Cre­ative Econ­omy em­ploys 47,282 peo­ple and gen­er­ates $1.4 bil­lion in earn­ings in the Cap­i­tal Re­gion. “It doesn’t al­ways mean hav­ing your name on the mar­quee,” Cullen said, not­ing that the job sat­is­fac­tion of in­di­vid­u­als in this sector is of­ten un­matched.

Ad­di­tion­ally, Cullen touched on the im­por­tance of soft skills, some­thing em­ploy­ers tell him time and time again that job can­di­dates are lack­ing.

One thing is cer­tain, “The world of look­ing for work has changed,” said Wil­liams, who tries to meet the needs of all job-seek­ers through his po­si­tion with the county. Even within the past five years, he con­tin­ued, more and more as­pects of the search - along with some of the jobs them­selves - are be­ing re­placed with tech­nol­ogy.

Those head­ing into the job mar­ket may­want to seek em­ploy­ment in a field that is ahead of tech­nol­ogy, Cullen said. While many po­si­tions are be­ing swapped out for au­to­ma­tion, there are a few jobs that def­i­nitely won’t dis­ap­pear - those who cre­ate the au­to­mated pro­grams and those who fix them, as well as those who pro­tect them in the cy­ber­se­cu­rity pro­fes­sion.

Though some may find this un­set­tling, Goldstein be­lieves stu­dents still have plenty to look for­ward to in their ca­reers. “We have a re­gion rich in op­por­tu­nity,” she said. Goldstein works with area busi­nesses on cre­at­ing part­ner­ships where stu­dents can shadow pro­fes­sion­als, gain­ing a true sense of what it’s like to work in a par­tic­u­lar field. The former ed­u­ca­tor also be­lieves th­ese ca­reer con­ver­sa­tions should start hap­pen­ing well be­fore 11th grade, along with im­mer­sion ex­pe­ri­ences that can help the stu­dents make in­formed choices about their fu­tures.

Baszcuk agreed. “The sooner a stu­dent is able to ex­plore work,” he said, “the sooner they can fig­ure them­selves out.”

This is ben­e­fi­cial for so­ci­ety and the econ­omy as well. Wil­liams said, “As a com­mu­nity we’re al­ways look­ing to build to­mor­row’s work­force.”

LAU­REN HAL­LI­GAN LHAL­LI­GAN@DIG­I­TAL­FIRST­MEDIA.COM

At­ten­dees lis­ten to a panel dis­cus­sion on Work­force Devel­op­ment in Rens­se­laer County on Tues­day morn­ing at the Tech Val­ley Cen­ter of Grav­ity in Troy.

LAU­REN HAL­LI­GAN LHAL­LI­GAN@DIG­I­TAL­FIRST­MEDIA.COM

Bryan Baszcuk, em­ploy­ment spe­cial­ist with ACCES VR, speaks dur­ing a pro­gram Tues­day morn­ing on Work­force Devel­op­ment in Rens­se­laer County.

LAU­REN HAL­LI­GAN LHAL­LI­GAN@DIG­I­TAL­FIRST­MEDIA.COM

Katie Ham­mon, ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor of the Down­town Troy Busi­ness Im­prove­ment Dis­trict, wel­comes event-go­ers to a pro­gram Tues­day morn­ing on Work­force Devel­op­ment in Rens­se­laer County.

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