June 08, 2014
By: Mark DiOrio
Source: Utica Observer-Dispatch
Nearly halfway through the decade in which retail and sales, the
food service industry and home health care are projected to provide the
Mohawk Valley with the most job openings, a shift in the employment
landscape appears to be on the horizon.
Every two years the
state Department of Labor projects which areas of industry will feature
the most new and replacement jobs. The last round, which focused on 2010
to 2020, found:
* Retail and sales should add a combined 500 jobs annually.
* Food service and preparation should add 360 jobs a year.
* Home health and personal care aides should add 350.
What those projections don’t take into account, however, is the
potential for the 7,000 estimated high-tech jobs that are expected in
the coming years thanks to the Computer Chip Commercialization Center
scheduled to open this year at SUNYIT, the planned Marcy nanocenter and
the Northeast UAS Airspace Integration Research Alliance’s drone program
at Griffiss Business and Technology Park.
retail and restaurants will still be very important to the area, and I
expect them to continue to grow ... but you have to keep in mind things
that are not yet added to the mix,” said Alice Savino, executive
director of the Workforce Investment Board of Herkimer, Madison and
Oneida Counties. “In addition to
the high-tech jobs that we
do know that will be coming, there will also be all sorts of support
jobs that will bring in even more. We don’t have a crystal ball, but I
think these growth projections will look much different in the future.”
Current jobs |should continue
Mary Lourdes Lounsbury, director of St. Elizabeth Certified Home
Health Agency, and Joe Steet Sr., co-owner of the Steet-Ponte Auto
Group, are confident that the growth in their respective industries will
Lounsbury’s agency employs 25 various home care
professionals and contracts out about 15 to 20 home health aides a week.
She said the need for those aides has shot up every year, thanks to the
growing aging population and hospitals trying to release patients
sooner and keep them out due to re-admission penalties.
“Those things are keeping us busier and busier … and actually leading to
a shortage,” Lounsbury said. “It’s a tough job and a challenge to
retain people. There are different dynamics you’re running into, and it
takes a certain type of person who really enjoys the type of work.”
Over the past few years, Steet’s six area dealerships have increased
their staffs by about 20 percent, and over the next five, he said he
expects to add at least five positions to each one annually.
About 20 percent of each dealership’s 50 employees are in sales, and
Steet said he has managed to keep his turnover rate low by creating a
profitable work environment for them.
“I make it a point not
to flood the floors with salespeople,” Steet said. “We keep on enough to
make everyone happy … but the more you sell the more you need. And that
leads to more management and more office help, service and parts,
administrative, all the way down the line.”
Steet said he has
an expansion plan in place for when the onslaught of new high-tech jobs
hits the area, but those positions could be knocking his industry down a
few pegs when it comes to job opportunities.
Mark Barbano, regional economist for the state Department of Labor,
said based on the growth in the Capital Region that happened when Global
Foundries brought its chip fabrication plant to Malta, the Mohawk
Valley’s current top areas for job growth soon will be replaced by a new
array of positions.
“Hypothetically … our projections would
show an additional need for engineering jobs such as electrical
engineers and industrial engineers … jobs in technician fields such as
industrial engineering technicians and electrical and electronics
engineering technicians … and also semiconductor processors and
industrial machinery mechanics,” Barbano said. “And then there are other
support jobs found in any large manufacturing facility such as
managers, human resource specialists, clerical staff, etc.”
The interest level for those positions was on full display in April when
more than 1,700 people showed up to a job fair at SUNYIT that was
looking to fill 300 positions at its Quad-C facility that is set to open
The college’s acting president, Bob Geer, said
that in addition to the technical and engineering programs it already
offers to prepare students for those jobs, it also offers training
certificate programs that will qualify people for certain positions, and
even more opportunities will become available in light of SUNYIT’s
recent merger with the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering in
“We are in a continuous process of building the
infrastructure to prepare for what is to come,” Geer said. “We want to
have a direct connection to the programs here and have all those
entities working together in one rapid network.”
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