For several years following the 2008 Recession, there was an overabundance of employees looking for jobs, which gave employers the upper hand in the hiring process.  Therefore, workforce development resources focused on services for job seekers.  With the economy improving, the unemployment rate is lower than it has been since 1969.  In April 2019, the national unemployment rate was 3.6%.  The March rates were 4.1% for NYS and 4.8% for Cayuga County.  With this shift to an employee-driven market, the greatest need is to connect our local employers to the various workforce development resources that exist in Cayuga County and New York State.

In my conversations with Cayuga County business owners, they have expressed that the most prominent challenge is finding qualified employees.  In response to this universal problem, the Cayuga Economic Development Agency (CEDA) has collaborated with Cayuga Works and Cayuga Community College to showcase the local, regional, and state resources for workforce development at an event titled “Workforce Development 101 for Employers”, which will take place on May 21st from 8-10am at Cayuga Community College in the student lounge.

This one-time event will directly connect a large number of our local businesses to these important resources.  The event will begin with presentations from each of the panelists, followed by Q&A from the audience.  The remaining time will be spent in a roundtable format where employers may speak directly with each panelist.  The panelists and topics will include:

  • Cayuga Works: Overview of the local resources and their programs
    • Workforce Development Board: policy making entity for the workforce development system in Cayuga and Cortland counties (which is currently seeking private-sector board members)
    • ACCES-VR: employment services for individuals with disabilities
    • A4TD (Associates for Training and Development): helping people 55+ return to work
    • Public Assistance Programs: those receiving social assistance may obtain training and find employment
  • Cayuga Seneca Community Action Agency (CSCAA): Employment Pathways Program
  • BOCES: Training programs for existing and new workers, as well as interns from their Technical Career Program
  • Cayuga Community College: Developing adult career pathways, offering students multiple opportunities from entry-level, noncredit courses to mid-skill level certificate and degree programs
  • Workforce Development Institute: Employer-specific information, workforce expertise, and funding to facilitate projects that build workforce skills
  • Manufacturers Association of CNY (MACNY): Apprenticeship programs for manufacturers
  • Department Of Labor: Apprenticeship programs and employer services: recruitment, HR consulting, customized recruiting, veterans’ programs, and more
  • Empire State Development (ESD): Overview of the new NYS Workforce Development Initiative

Those who should attend this event are business owners, human resource staff, guidance counselors, business service providers, and anyone interested in the workforce development resources available. Click here to register for “Workforce Development 101 for Employers”.

One of CEDA’s focuses is building the workforce pipeline locally. In addition to co-hosting the first Student Career Fair for high school juniors in March, CEDA is compiling a list of employers who are willing to engage with students by providing training, information, mentoring, tours, summer jobs, or other opportunities.  Our goal is to help students realize the career opportunities that exist right here in Cayuga County.  If your business or organization is willing to engage with students, please fill out this brief survey: The information will be shared with educational and training partners to help connect students and employers.

Workforce challenges are not unique to our community.  They are state and national concerns as well.  In response to this need, NYS recently announced a new Workforce Development Initiative, which will invest $175M state-wide to “support strategic regional efforts that meet businesses’ short-term workforce needs, long-term industry needs, improve regional talent pipelines, enhance the flexibility and adaptability of local workforce entities, and expand workplace learning opportunities. Focus will be on regionally significant industries in emerging fields with growing demands for jobs, including those in clean energy, life sciences, computer science, and advanced technologies. Funds will also support efforts to improve the economic security of women, young workers, and other populations that face significant barriers to career advancement.”  More information on this initiative will be presented at the Workforce Development 101 for Employers on May 21st.

Furthermore, the New York Economic Development Council (NYEDC) conference in January highlighted the importance of collaboration between economic developers and workforce development partners. Last October, the New York Association of Training and Employment Professionals (NYATEP) conference was themed, “A New Dawn for Workforce in NY: Building Partnerships Across Economic and Workforce Development”.  The breakout sessions shared best practices, case studies, and the economic impact of higher education. These themes consistently show that new workforce solutions and greater collaboration are necessary in today’s economy.

CEDA is proactively working to mitigate the effects of our historically low unemployment rates.  Get in touch with us today to connect with the right resources to help your business grow in Cayuga County.

Maureen Riester is CEDA’s Economic Development Specialist. Call (315) 252-3500 or email
Originally published in the May 9, 2019, edition of The Citizen.