Workforce development professionals often have discussions among themselves and with economic development colleagues about the “workforce pipeline.” This refers to the training and education infrastructure that produces a satisfactory pool of employees within the community. Some say it is best to begin this regimen of training and education as early as kindergarten or elementary school. At the very least, students should be entering the workforce pipeline by the time they reach middle school.

The pipeline infrastructure, then, will involve students from seventh grade through post-high school training or education, whether they seek a non-credit certification, an Associate’s or Bachelor’s Degree, or beyond. In the best of all possible worlds, it should be part of the final six years of K-12 education and should prepare students equally well for jobs, vocational training or higher education.

Otsego Now has begun building that infrastructure here in Otsego County. We began by conducting a series of initial interviews with business owners around the county to find out what, if any, skills need to be included in which segments of K-12 training and education. Since then, we have engaged school superintendents throughout the county to learn from them what they were doing to prepare students for work.

The immediate result of those conversations will take place in early May at the Otsego Now offices in downtown Oneonta, when we will host a gathering of school district representatives for a presentation by Christian Harris, Labor Market Analyst with the NYS Department of Labor. Christian will discuss labor market demand projections for the region: what will be the “hot” jobs, what are their education and training requirements, and what salaries do they offer.

Our hope is that, by becoming better informed about what kinds of employment is available in the region, schools will better prepare students for those jobs. Even if it means that students may have to work in Utica or Rome or Binghamton, they will be able to commute those distances and needn’t leave the area altogether.