About 600 local business leaders are being called upon to think creatively in 2019 to expand upon 2,800 new job gains in the Upstate region last year as well as how to best attract and retain talent to fill a wealth of current and future job openings.
Centerstate CEO’s Economic Forecast results were conducted by a third party research firm across 18 industry sectors. It shows that nearly 75 percent of companies graded their business as either strong or very strong in 2018. M&T Economist Gary Keith says proof of that is how the region’s jobs report finished last year.
"We're starting to see an upturn," said Keith. "In fact, in the latter stages of 2018 the size of our workforce. We have not seen that in quite some time. That's very, very encouraging. It's very encouraging as well to see the number of residents in Centerstate region be employed, moving in such a strongly postive direction."
The unemloyment rate also continues to decline, reaching a historic low of 3.8 percent in November. Although Keith explains there is a significant difference when people don’t earn a degree.
"Folks with an associate's degree or above have, and continue to find, employment opportunities," said Keith. "Those with lower eductaional attainment are leaving the playing field."
Education and healthcare in the Centerstate region continue to lead in nearly 30 percent of the overall payroll. That’s well above the national average of 16 percent. President Rob Simpson says his business development team had a successful year.
"All told, the projects that they engaged in throughout 2018 resulted in commitments to make over 900 new jobs and 212 million in private investment thorught Central New York," said Simpson.
He says they plan to launch a talent acquisition strategy to recruit more engineers and software developers.
"When it comes to education, preparing our workforce begins with preparing our children," said Simpson. "We are fortunate to have such a strong public education system as a whole, but the outcomes within that system are not equal. For years, our City school district has wrestled with many of the same challenges facing urban school districts around the country."
Simpson added, "And while it would be easy to dismiss these challenges as intractable, doing so would consign a large and important part of our population and our future workforce, and the largest concentration of minority residents, to another generation of unequal economic outcomes because of unequal preparation.
"Thanks to the leadership of Superintendent Jaime Alicea, however, partners like CenterState CEO, MACNY, OCC and dozens of our region’s businesses have been engaged in helping the Syracuse City School District develop and launch more than 25 leading-edge (CTE) Career and Technical Education programs designed to engage students in hands-on, career-oriented learning opportunities in industries from natural resources to cybersecurity to drones," added Simpson.
Centerstate is also in talks to regionally expand CTE programs in schools. Additionally, they plan to expand the ‘Work Train’ program into Cayuga and Oswego Counties to assist employers in recruiting both new talent and previous untapped talent.