Jamestown Gazette

The Manufacturing Sector

The Condition of Manufacturing in Jamestown and Chautauqua County is Strong & Growing

Article Contributed by
Manufacturers Association of the Southern Tier

A major challenge to Advanced Manufacturing economies today is maintaining a skilled workforce. According to a workforce study by the Manufacturing Institute (MI), partner of the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) located in Washington, D.C., manufacturers in the United States will need to fill four million jobs by 2030. NAM represents almost exclusively small and medium sized manufacturing businesses numbering 14,000 across the nation in every industrial sector. It is the country’s most effective resource and advocate for manufacturers.

Advanced Manufacturing offers exciting career opportunities for those just entering the work force as well as for workers seeking a career change. MI reports the average compensation in manufacturing jobs in the United States to be more than $88,000. The industry is the foundation of the regional economy that includes Allegany, Cattaraugus and Chautauqua Counties. Although the population of the three county region is relatively small, manufacturing in the region accounts for more than 18,000 jobs. Advanced Manufacturing requires the training and skill set necessary to fill technologically dependent positions. Job seekers with the proper training are in demand by manufacturers in this low unemployment economy struggling to find the workers needed.

Todd Tranum declares that this struggle affects Chautauqua County every bit as much as it is affecting the entire country. As director of the Manufacturers Association of the Southern Tier (MAST), Todd is familiar with the range of manufacturing facilities in the county. MAST, founded in 1900 by George V. Blackstone of the Blackstone Manufacturing Company, is one of the earliest organizations of its kind in the country. MAST is dedicated to helping area manufacturers grow, develop and thrive.

The demand for manufactured goods, Todd Tranum assures, is up. The current trend, likely to continue for some time, in reshoring manufacturing facilities has contributed to the healthy energy of the sector. Supply chain issues continue to be addressed. Asked by the Gazette what portion of manufacturing businesses in the county might be considered Advanced, Todd answers every one. Manufacturing relies on a constantly evolving technology to improve efficiency. Could any business survive today without a computer literate workforce?

Visit any number of manufacturing facilities today and, to those unfamiliar with the manufacturing workplace, one can only be impressed by the innovative machinery and processes visible within.

Robotics? Some will argue the downside of technology. Will robots, will AI, displace the living breathing souls dependent on their jobs to keep food on the table? Todd Tranum argues the opposite. Technology is, bottom line, says Todd, a job creator. Keeping up with the technology requires knowledgeable managers, engineers, tradesmen and women and maintenance personnel. Consider the cobot. A term new to me as it will be to most Gazette readers, I suspect. The cobot might best be described as the helper of the human workforce. For instance, a cobot may be a machine that can move heavy product in process from one place to another on the work floor eliminating the strain of human muscle. The welder, then, can concentrate on the work he or she has been hired to perform. Additionally, cobots decrease industrial injuries.

Future technologically proficient workers require intensive hands on training. Gone are the days when even the confirmed Luddite was capable of tinkering on a basic car engine and managing to complete a repair. Today’s complicated engines demand serious specialized schooling often specific to a particular model. Advanced Manufacturing training, then, is essential to easing the demand for workers in the Manufacturing Sector.

What training is available in Jamestown? An initiative of Mast inaugurated in 2009 has been working to increase the skilled workforce pipeline entering manufacturing careers. The program is entitled Dream It Do it Western New York (DIDIWNY). Two years previously the Manufacturing Institute (MI) designed and offered the program to communities throughout the country. MAST purchased the licensing through MI and funded the startup in Chautauqua County.

Western New York as here defined comprises the three counties mentioned previously—Allegany, Cattaraugus and Chautauqua. By Mast’s count there are 330 manufacturing facilities in the three county region. Manufacturers are searching for personnel in six priority skilled job categories: welding, machining, electro mechanical technician, mechanics, quality assurance inspecting and electrical and production operations. DIDI associates schools and local manufacturers through a variety of programs to provide students with an introduction to the world of manufacturing. Programs include internships, Stem Wars, technology tours and Women in Manufacturing. For more information consult the DIDI website at didiwny.com.

Partnering with DIDI the Manufacturing Technology Institute (MTI) at JCC has developed hands on technical training to support Advanced Manufacturing in the Southern Tier. Students can earn a degree in engineering, manufacturing and applied technology. JCC has an MTI on both the Jamestown and Cattaraugus County campuses.

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