Workforce Development Strategy and
Policy Forum

On August 8, 2018, New York State and Federal policymakers, workforce development advocates, Capital Region employers, and industry leaders in the energy, health care, higher education, manufacturing, and technology sectors converged in Albany, New York at the Hearst Media Center for a Workforce Development Strategy and Policy Forum presented by Excelsior University. The event was held in cooperation with the Center for Economic Growth and Rep. Paul Tonko. Breakout sessions, facilitated by local experts, were held across five tracks: Big Picture Challenges, Collaborations, Pipeline, Training and Retention, and Wages and Growth.

Event Recording – Overview (13:00)

Event Recording – Workgroups (33:47)

Key Contributors

Peter P. Bardunias, IOM, Chamber of Southern Saratoga County
Dr. Gladys Cruz, Questar III BOCES
Dr. Scott Dolan, Excelsior University
Dr. Joseph Dragone, Capital Region BOCES
Penny Hill, Hudson Valley Community College
Dr. Michael Johnson, Excelsior University
Mike Lesczinski, Excelsior University
Michael Lobsinger, Center for Economic Growth (CEG)
Dr. Patrick Michel, HFM BOCES
Amber Mooney, The Business Council of New York State, Inc.
Marilyn Smith, Office of Congressman Paul Tonko
Amanda Vitullo, Center for Economic Growth
Denise Zieske, The State University of New York


Harnessing the individual and collective perspectives of the group, facilitators identified potential actions, recommendations, and solutions for the short-term, as well as ideas worth prioritizing over the long-term.

Discussion Groups – Key Recommendations

Reforming and Introducing New State and Federal Policies

  • Pursue and fund progressive, wrap-around services and programs; remove the “fiscal cliff” where individuals lose complete access to vital services once they secure employment. (Employee—Social Supports)
  • Increase investment in public transportation. (Employee—Social Supports)
  • Support and incentivize employers (through funding) to hire at-risk and hard-to-reach populations (as compared to current training-to-hire programs). (Employer—Hiring Incentives)
  • Increase funding for non-credit educational and workforce development programs conducted by community colleges and other higher educational institutions. (Programming)
  • Reform financial aid programs, e.g. regular and substantive interaction, competency-based learning to foster increased innovation in higher education. (Education Policy—Higher Ed)
  • Offer additional incentives (tax credits, funding, low-interest financing) for workforce incubators. (Programming)
  • Adjust school funding formulas to support innovation, manufacturing education, and STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts, and Mathematics). (Education Policy—K-12)

Improving Training Programs

  • Develop a strategy for succession planning: 1) Hire replacements 2) Document training process to foster Knowledge, Transfer, and Retention (KTR) 3) Support training programs with appropriate budget 4) Utilize cross-training to prevent loss of institutional knowledge during challenging times that include layoffs. (Employer—Internal Strategy)
  • Recognize both external and internal talent (Employer—Internal Strategy)
  • Develop mentorship programs by assigning retiring workers to new employees to assist with knowledge transfer. (Industry-Education Partnerships-Programming; Employer—Internal Strategy)
  • Benchmark organizations that have successful knowledge transfer programs. (Research)
  • Develop a culture of learning by increasing focus on professional/foundational skill training, encouraging and supporting professional development, and building career pathways. (Employer—Internal Strategy; Industry-Education Partnerships-PD/Training)
  • Conduct workforce skill assessments and build training facilities onsite to provide stronger preparation and orientation, make college courses and other types of training possible for those with variable schedules. (Research; Higher Education—Internal Strategy)
  • Explore new internship/apprenticeship programs and expand work-based learning opportunities. (Employer—Internal Strategy; Higher Education—Internal Strategy)
  • Systematize competencies, whether health care, technology, construction, or manufacturing to enhance clarity of job role and skill alignment, allowing educators to enrich curriculum with competency-based learning experiences. (Research; Higher Education—Internal Strategy)
  • Jobs for the future are not the jobs we have now. Employers need to build in contingencies to allow for agile learning – employees taking advantage of skill development opportunities outside normal work hours. (Employers—Internal Strategy; Employee—Social Supports)

Fostering Stronger Collaborations

  • Pursue K-12 and industry partnerships to provide educators with opportunity to take advantage of internships/hands-on opportunities that they can use to enrich curriculum. Real world needs to become part of the educational experience. (K-12—Internal Strategy; Industry-Education Partnerships)
  • Motivate trade associations, labor unions, employment agencies, transition centers, and other community organizations to collaborate and align on trainings. (Employer and Employer Associations—Collaborations)
  • Create and expand ride-sharing programs to assist with access to employment opportunities, regional assets, and trainings. (Employee—Social Supports)
  • Create “backbone” organization to coordinate and distribute common outcomes, data, and messaging regarding workforce development challenges and opportunities. Collective impact. (Research; Develop Workforce Development Consortium)
  • Create a one-semester course with post-secondary school or BOCES to fill vacancies for skilled positions that require 2-year degree. (Industry-Education Partnerships)
  • Create an internship program for high school students that lead to a full-time position at the company upon graduation. (K-12 Internal Strategy; Industry-Education Partnerships)
  • Encourage companies and organizations to work with outside advocacy organizations on strategies to change internal culture around people with disabilities. (Employee-Targeted Populations; Employers—Internal Strategy)
  • Build a common language around terms, competencies, skills, and careers to improve communication and understanding among educators, organizations, and jobseekers. (Research)
  • Encourage companies to conduct and share workforce assessments with educators and community organizations to identify in-demand skills and needs. (Employer—Internal Strategy; Industry-Education Partnerships)

Boosting Wages and Growth

  • Entry-level employees must understand the pathway to advancement. (Employer—Internal Strategy; Marketing/Branding)
  • Storytelling is essential. Attracting talent and investment requires collaborative effort of policymakers, companies, educators, chambers of commerce, and community organizations working together, rowing in same direction, and amplifying the efforts of one another. (Industry-Education Partnerships)

Strengthening the Pipeline

  • Highlight the Capital Region’s proximity to major metro destinations including New York City, Boston, and Philadelphia, nearly two dozen higher education institutions, low cost, temperate climate, relatively high quality of life, burgeoning technology sector, and abundance of state government employment opportunities, and veteran funding. (Marketing/Branding)
  • Ensure K-12 students have access to appropriate technology to develop in-demand skills. (K-12 Funding/Programming)
  • Invite company human resource directors to campus to educate high school counselors and teachers on industry careers, available jobs, and workforce needs. (K-12-Internal StrategyIndustry-Education Partnerships)
  • Adjust K-12 rankings to remove overemphasis on students bound for 4-year higher education. (Research/Reporting)
  • Host “signing days” for students pursuing vocational careers. (Employer-Internal Strategy; Industry-Education partnerships)
  • Enrich curriculum with career-ready learning experiences developed in partnership with industries. (K-12—Internal Strategy; Higher Education—Internal Strategy)
  • Host “speed dating” events to foster increased dialogue and cooperation between workforce groups, educational institutions, industry, etc. (Industry-Education Partnerships)
  • Increase focus on changing cultures in response to demographic shifts and to support people with disabilities. (Marketing/Branding; Employer-Internal Strategy)
  • Host K-12 students onsite to gain firsthand experience and spark interest in future careers. (Employer-Internal Strategy; Industry-Education Partnerships)
  • Provide community college students with access to conduct research and development, and market the success. (Higher Education-Internal Strategy)
  • Offer more diversity and inclusion training in response to demographic changes. (Employer-Internal Strategy; Industry-Education Partnerships)

Big Picture Challenges

  • Change the narrative on manufacturing and other vocational careers to make them more attractive to younger workers by exposing them to benefits and opportunities – speak to them in their language. (Marketing/Branding; Employee-Targeted Populations)
  • Match jobseekers to available jobs through improvements to system of brokers and intermediaries. (Research; Industry-Education Partnerships)
  • Expand child care, transportation, and health care to improve access to jobs through public programs and services or private scholarships. (Employee-Social Supports)
  • Change cultural values around immigration and female participation in vocational careers. (Marketing/Branding; Employee-Targeted Populations)
  • Attract investment in Capital Region by promoting assets and opportunities. (Marketing/Branding)
  • Stop competing against one another and cooperate to solve challenges. (Industry-Education-Collaboration)
  • Modernize high school design to meet 21st century needs. (K-12 Internal Strategy)

Participating Organizations

Adult Career and Continuing Education Services – Vocational Rehabilitation (ACCES-VR)
Beech-Nut Nutrition Company
Berkshire Union Free School District
Capital District Regional Planning Commission
Carpenter Contractor Trust
Center for Economic Growth
Covey Computer Software
Empire State Development
Excelsior University
Fulton-Montgomery Community College
Fulton Montgomery Regional Chamber of Commerce
Greanetree Technology Group LLC
Harris Beach
Hinman Straub
Momentive Performance Materials
MBI Consulting LLC
Nano Zone Technologies LLC
Rensselaer County Chamber of Commerce
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Saratoga Casino Hotel
Schenectady Community Action Program
Schenectady County Community College
Spiral Design Studio LLC
SUNY Adirondack
Tech Valley Recruiting
Tucker Strategies Inc
Umicore Technical Materials
Upstate Balloon Company
Tech Valley Innovation Research LLC
University at Albany