$2.9 million grant for registered apprenticeship programs in WNY to strengthen minorities’ and refugees’ skills

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October 30, a large number of business leaders gathered at United Auto Workers (UAW) Region 9 offices to join United Way of Buffalo and Erie County President Michael Weiner along with several guest speakers in the announcement of the Department of Labor grant totaling $2,975,884 to establish the American Apprenticeship Initiative of WNY.

Addressing the business communities and the audience, Pr. Weiner said that the 5-year grant will expand and create registered apprenticeship programs that will be focused on advancing manufacturing industries. “This program will strengthen and create pathways for job opportunities particularly among underrepresented populations, including young people, women, minorities, low skilled individuals, persons with disabilities, immigrants and refugees,” Pr. Weiner said.

Besides opportunity creation and career pathways for individuals, the initiative also addresses the need for skilled workers for local manufacturing employers at a time when Buffalo’s advanced manufacturing sector is gaining significant momentum.

Reacting to the grant announcement, Congressman Higgins whose the advocacy for the acquisition of the grant was praised, indicated that the program was critical for advancing the skills of our workers and advance the cause of manufacturing companies. “Germany is a quarter of the size of the United States, yet they manufacture more than the United States. Why is that? Because Germany invests in their workers… not to make their jobs obsolete but to make the workers more skilled so that they compete and increase their competitive globalized economy,” Congress Higgins said.

Congressman also indicated that this is a partnership that reflects the ability to go into those underrepresented areas and find those employees that represent the next generation of manufactures and workers of the WNY community.

On his side, the UAW president, Dennis William, also praised the partnership that led to the acquisition of the grant and expressed his satisfaction that the focus is now on manufacturing in the effort to revitalize the city’s manufacturing industry.

John E. Shinn, the Director of United Steelworkers Region 4, praised the importance of the grant in that it will respond to the need of the manufacturing industry for skilled workers who can keep the city’s manufacturing facilities operational. “We have an incredible workforce in Western New York, we have great manufacturing facilities that have been existing for a long time. But we reached a point where we were almost to a critical mess where we don’t have enough skilled workers to keep our manufacturing facilities operating. It is a sustainability for the future what we are looking at, and this will benefit a lot of employers,” he said.

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