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New report outlines workforce state in three Southern Tier counties

BIG FLATS, N.Y. (18 NEW - A new report details the current workforce state in Chemung, Steuben and Schuyler Counties, and the findings are rather bleak.

Population loss, aging and shrinking labor, lack of education and training: Those are just some of the grim details with the tri-counties' workforce along the Interstate 86 corridor.

"From a regional perspective, it's challenging right now," James Johnson, the director of the Steuben County Industrial Development Agency, said. "It has been for some time."

The report is is called the Integrated Workforce Development Strategic Plan. Some of the affected sectors include healthcare, manufacturing, construction and education.

"What we know is when site selectors come looking to do business in our community," Michael Krusen, the president of the Southern Tier Economic Growth, said, "one of the very first questions they'll ask is whether or not we have a skilled workforce, a trained workforce, not just for today but for tomorrow."

"We interact every year on a regular basis with the employers to say 'is this program still relevant,'" Dr. Kate Douglas, president of Corning Community College, said. "Do we have the right curriculum and are we giving you the skills in our graduates you need?'"

The report says available workforce in the region is a concern for employers. 

Also listed are low-levels of graduates in technical fields, a prevalence of drug and alcohol use, lack of work ethic, just to name a few.

"They will not locate a business here if they do not think we have a workforce that can manufacture, produce and build," Krusen said.

"We can throw as many incentives at them as we want," Johnson said. "But if the businesses don't feel they can sustain their labor pool, they'll look somewhere else."

Even with education, it's also a matter of continuing that education in any field.

"It will change, it will demand more and so we have to instill in our students, in our graduates and in each other," Douglas said.

Krusen said an administrative entity will be created to maintain the partnership between businesses, government entities and educational institutions. It would further improve the work situation in the counties.

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