LYONS — Many high school students struggle with figuring out not only what they want to do with their lives work-wise but where they want to do.
Meanwhile, college graduates with four-year degrees often can’t find work in the fields they studied, while companies can’t fill many of the job openings they have.
It’s a nationwide problem, and Wayne County is no exception to the challenges, said Brian Pincelli, the county’s director of economic development.
It’s one reason why his office is teaming up with Edge Factor to, among other things, promote workforce development, showcase careers students can aspire to that can be found in Wayne County.
Pincelli said Edge Factor has created 20 videos of employees at a number of Wayne County companies that include Newark-Wayne Community Hospital, Rootstock Ciderworks, Baldwin Richardson Foods and Optimax and Opitpro. The industries run the gamut from value-added agriculture, healthcare and advanced manufacturing
“We’re sharing the career app for folks in Wayne County who might not realize what kinds of jobs are available,” said Pincelli. “This is just the start. I’m working with other companies to get them on the platform.”
For students, the videos may give them an idea of a career path they might want to take. Preparing for those paths could include BOCES studies such as P-TECH, which focuses on college attainment and career readiness; vocational training; and college or other types of job training, said Pincelli.
While high schoolers are a big focus of the videos, they also are aimed at those looking to change careers or find work closer to home.
Pincelli said the work Edge Factor did for the county is outstanding.
Larissa Hofman, vice president of Edge Factor, said in a news release that the agency partners “with communities across North America to tackle workforce development. While every community is unique, many of the challenges they face are the same. Our goal is to help take students and job seekers on a journey from, ‘I have no idea what I want to do with my life’ to successfully attending a local training program and launching a successful career pathway in a local company.”
The need to develop a skilled and ample workforce is a key component to the county’s economic development efforts, Pincelli said.
“Access to talent is a big part of the decision-making process of where to locate” for companies, he said, noting that the Wayne County Industrial Development Agency received a grant to pay for Edge Factor’s work.
Pincelli said the county business climate is surprisingly diverse, that it’s home to more than just one of the largest apple industries in the nation.
“I’m continually impressed with the variety of the economy here,” he said. “It’s not just apples. The things that we’re doing in Wayne County are impacting the world and even outer space.”
Pincelli said his department is working to promote the Edge Factor platform at county school districts and in other ways, such as billboards, to spread the word.
Matt Cook, superintendent of the Newark Central School District, likes what the county is doing.
“The Wayne County superintendents have been working with Brian and Edge Factor on this for a while,” he said by email. “We are well aware of the initiative and are supportive of the effort, as we think it will help local businesses gain potential employees, while also helping our students learn about possible careers in advanced manufacturing, right here in Wayne County.”
Pincelli emphasized that he doesn’t expect immediate results; this is part of a long-term workforce-development strategy.
“I think it’s going to take some time to get integrated into the school districts,” he said.
Businesses interested in seeing their employees included in the Edge Factor videos can reach out to county Business Outreach Coordinator Tanya Hasseler at Thasseler@co.wayne.ny.us.