Rochester, N.Y. - With unemployment in Rochester
hovering at 8 percent, there are well paying jobs that are going begging for applicants. “It’s an incredibly important workforce issue,” says University of Rochester President Joel Seligman
who also chairs the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council.
Because of growing demand and retirements there will be 14,500 jobs in the skilled workforce arena for the taking over the next five years. That’s four times the number currently employed at Kodak Park.
“Film’s dying, Kodak’s changing,” says Ronald Ackerman who held one of those jobs up until April. After 30 years with Kodak he was laid off – twice.
The hardest job he’s ever had is finding a new job. “The economy isn’t as good as we’d like to see it,” says Ackerman. “Jobs aren’t there for middle aged workers. You have to develop yourself, reinvent the wheel.”
Ackerman is trading his former career in ink jet printing for another type of manufacturing using high tech C-N-C machines. While Rochester’s larger companies have shut down or moved manufacturing operations overseas, smaller companies are looking for workers with higher skills to machine precision metal or manufacture optics.
“They may employ 10 people but each one of those individuals sits in front of a machine costing between $500 thousand and $1 million dollars,” says MCC President Anne Kress. “There’s a huge demand for workers in high precision manufacturing.”
These aren’t your grandfather’s manufacturing jobs at Kodak. They require precision skills and math. Optics companies tell MCC what workers need to know and in many cases they train on the very same machinery.