Goodwill of Western New York was recently awarded one of only 21 national Build Back Better Regional Challenge awards to expand its Goodskills Career Builder (Goodskills) initiative into Niagara Falls with sessions beginning in February at the Orleans-Niagara Workforce Training Center. The focus of the funding, part of the American Rescue Plan, is to grow Western New York’s advanced manufacturing ecosystem through workforce, innovation, and infrastructure.
In collaboration with local employers and trainers, Goodskills Career Builder prepares workers for careers in Advanced Manufacturing through four weeks of training provided at no charge to residents of Niagara and Erie County. The combination of classroom and hands-on experience has the dual benefit of helping to fill a growing need for skilled workers among businesses and providing opportunities for people to advance from minimum or low-wage jobs into higher paying careers.
Designed in partnership with the University at Buffalo Regional Institute (UBRI) and launched in August 2021 as a pilot project for Erie County, Goodskills graduated 104 participants in the first year with 80% of graduates successfully placed in jobs with career advancement opportunities. Graduates have been placed at a number of high profile companies including Tesla, PCB Piezotronics and Eastman Machine. Based on the most recent research released by UBRI, the benefits of transitioning from unemployment or underemployment to a Goodskills Career Builder job results in a wage increase of almost $500,000 over a 20-year career while increasing economic impact in the region by more than $3 million.
“In our conversations with local employers, Niagara Falls was selected because it has a wealth of employment opportunities for people in manufacturing but continues to have struggles filling them,” said Thomas Ulbrich, President and CEO of Goodwill of Western New York. “Goodskills Career Builder is focused on giving individuals the skills they need not only to be hired but also to start a career that leads to stability and financial independence.”
Designing Goodskills Career Builder training with employers ensures that participants receive the skill set that employers are looking for. Upon completion of training, participants are provided a direct connection to hiring employers prepared to offer graduates with employment that has a clear career pathway to higher wages and advancement or placement into advanced training with a Goodskills partner. Participants will also have access to a Goodskills Career Coach for up to three years after graduation. The Career Coach will help graduates overcome obstacles that may prevent them from maintaining their position and help them advance in their desired career path. These coaches have access to a wide range of resources that can assist with transportation, affordable childcare, and referrals to additional sector specific training.
Goodskills Career Builder is open to any adult over 18 years old with a high school diploma or equivalent residing in Niagara or Erie County who is authorized to work in the United States and is currently looking for a higher-paying job in advanced manufacturing. There is currently no cost associated with participating, and graduates will receive $500 for work completed during the hands-on portion of the training. The sessions will be held at the Orleans-Niagara Workforce Training Center at 606 6th Street in Niagara Falls.
Potential candidates for Goodskills and potential employer partners can learn more by visiting Goodskillswny.org or by calling an Outreach Liaison at 716.710.7097.