Thursday, January 14, 2016

AM&T and the Workforce Development Institute (WDI)

The Workforce Development Institute (WDI) helps keep jobs and improve the lives of people across NYS by developing regional solutions for workforce, economic, and community development challenges. WDI works regionally to identify targeted strategies that address workforce development opportunities and challenges. These strategies can include partnerships, training and/or funding. WDI’s strength is their ability to identify trends, quickly fill gaps not covered by other programs, and then move successful programs throughout the state. 

Interactive Grants Program

Through a unique grants program, WDI makes investments that lead to workforce development and economic growth. This program is an “interactive” one, where WDI regional staff work directly with a business, union, or other entity to understand the issues at hand, and then help develop a response. This grants program is unique from a few perspectives:

Hands-on approach: Through direct contact with the applicant, WDI regional staff get a better sense of future growth and workforce issues.

Connections/Facilitation: If additional partners need to be brought in as part of the discussion, WDI regional staff connect with these resources and facilitate discussions.

Flexibility: WDI’s funding is flexible and can be tailored to meet the needs of the immediate problem or opportunity.

Streamlined Application Process: WDI understands that time is money… and jobs. The application process for the WDI grants program is simple and straight forward and designed to help the applicant move quickly on their plans.

Targeted Sectors 

Although WDI works in all sectors of the economy, they have a special interest in two growing sectors that hold particular promise in terms of good jobs:

Manufacturing - Across NYS, WDI sees manufacturing making a comeback. Companies are retooling/retrenching and making investments in product innovation, equipment, facilities, and the workforce. WDI believes that a healthy manufacturing base is a key driver to growth of the rest of the economy. However, the jobs associated with today’s manufacturing are very different from those of previous generations. WDI is interested in seeing these new jobs – with solid wages and career trajectories – grow in NYS.

Energy - There is growing recognition that the energy grid needs redesign and greater resiliency. Both an aging-out of the current energy workforce and a shift towards renewable and smart technologies that require new skills are complicating factors from a workforce perspective. These jobs are highly skilled and well paid, and WDI supports their continued growth.

For more information about what WDI can do for you, please contact: Jim Cunningham, 607-725-1225,

A New Call of Duty for Returning Veterans

Dec 28, 2015 IW Staff— IndustryWeek

Started by a 15-year Navy veteran, Workshops for Warriors provides 16 months of free training for post 9/11 vets interested in advanced manufacturing. Even better: the group has a 100% job placement rate.

Last week, 46 U.S. veterans graduated from a trade school program in San Diego with not just a diploma in hand, but jobs awaiting them in advanced manufacturing.

The newly minted CNC machinists, CAD/CAM programmers and welders made up the largest graduating class yet at Workshops for Warriors, a nonprofit that provides a free 16-month training program in welding and fabrication for veterans transitioning into civilian life.

Graduates are placed at manufacturing companies large and small—many of them right in San Diego, a manufacturing hub where their skills are in high demand.

Since its founding, Workshops for Warriors has placed all of its graduates in jobs with starting salaries typically around $50,000. Even those who complete only part of the program often land skilled jobs that pay a living wage, says founder HernĂ n Luis y Prado, a veteran himself.

Prado served 15 years in the Navy, with combat tours in Afghanistan and Iraq. Seeing more of his fellow service members “die of suicide and drugs in San Diego… than bombs and bullets in Baghdad” compelled him to start the organization in 2008.

“If we want to help veterans, we need to have a secure civilian path that they can be trained into,” Prado said in a statement on the organization’s website.

Most students in the program are post 9/11 veterans, ranging in age from 22 to 35 and transitioning out of the armed forces sooner than they expected due to military drawdowns or major injuries. In San Diego alone, more than 40,000 veterans transition out of service each year.

Students can earn credentials from industry organizations including the National Institute for Metalworking Skills, Mastercam University (computer-aided manufacturing), SolidWorks (computer-aided design) and the American Welding Society.

Since 2011, 238 veterans have been trained on-site in the program, receiving close to 600 third-party nationally recognized credentials.

Workshop for Warriors’ next 16-month session began January 4. Students choose either the welding or machining track, training on a long list of up-to-date equipment. Courses include computer-aided design, machinery repair and maintenance, CNC and manual machining and turning, and welding and fabrication.