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New program seeks to prepare students for manufacturing careers

Ashley Hirtzel

A new program has been created to prepare students for careers in advanced manufacturing. Lieutenant Governor Robert Duffy was in Buffalo Wednesday to announce the plan to create an advanced manufacturing early college program at Burgard High School.

The program will train students in auto technology, welding and machine tool technology and allow them to receive an Associate’s Degree from Alfred State College. The college will be granted $3.2 million through the Buffalo Billion initiative to execute the program.

Say Yes-Buffalo will also provide a large portion of the college tuition expenses for students as well as support services for the financial aid process. Duffy says the early college program will help address the skills gap in the western New York manufacturing base.

“It’s not a lack of jobs, because there are numeral open jobs. It is having people prepared to step into those. Look at our Smartphone’s and technology, things have changed, manufacturing has changed over the last couple of decades. It really requires a lot more math, a lot more advanced training to run the machinery. So, this is a great win,” said Duffy.

It’s estimated that 17,000 jobs in the western New York manufacturing industry will open within the next 10 years. Duffy says the program will prepare students to step into careers upon graduation. Principal of Burgard Brian Wiesinger says the program will give the Buffalo Public Schools a destination High School.

Credit Ashley Hirtzel / WBFO
Advanced manufacturing machine.

“[When] they graduate from this program, right now statistics will show you that any job in one of those three areas the average starting salary is about $40,000. So, we’re serving a population that is currently about 80 percent of our students at the poverty level. This is a great opportunity for our kids to really move themselves and their future families into a decent paying profession and really move forward from an economic standpoint,” said Wiesinger.

Wiesinger says Alfred State has a 99% job placement rate. He says it’s exciting that the college is willing to bring that track record to Buffalo Public students.