January 07, 2010

Schumer, Gillibrand Announce Erie County Steelworkers Will Get Access To More Than $4.5 Million To Update Skills For The New Energy Economy

Federal Dollars Will Help Retrain Laid-Off Steelworkers in Wind Farm Technology, Solar and Geothermal Installation

Washington, D.C. – With nearly one-quarter of New York’s once thriving manufacturing base now gone, U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand today announced that laid-off Erie County steelworkers will have access to more than $4.5 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) to help retrain them with new skills they need to find new jobs and thrive in the new energy economy.

Dislocated steelworkers in Western New York will be able to take advantage of the federal investment to train them as wind farm field technicians and maintenance workers, solar panel or geothermal energy installers – skills that will also help prepare these workers for jobs in related fields, such as construction, heating, HVAC and home retrofitting. This program is expected to serve 2,000 participants in ten counties nationwide, including Erie County.

“The economic downturn has hurt our steelworkers in Erie County,” said Senator Schumer. “This training program will help laid-off workers get back on their feet and provide them with the skills needed to enter the green energy workforce. In these tough economic times it is critical that we provide these opportunities to individuals struggling to stay afloat. I will continue to push for funds that help displaced workers find their way back into the job market.”

“New York’s steelworkers and manufacturing businesses powered us through the 20th century, but have been among those hit hardest by these tough economic times,” Senator Gillibrand said. “This federal investment will help give steelworkers in Western New York the skills they need to get back to work and thrive in the new energy economy, and rebuild our economy with new sources of clean, homegrown energy.”

“Workforce training is a key element in the transition to a clean energy economy,” said James Finamore, Executive Director for Buffalo and Erie County Workforce Investment Board, Inc. “This project will provide the resources we need to train workers dislocated from the steel industry for new opportunities in energy generation and conservation in Western New York. We are excited about this opportunity to work with the United Steel Workers and the Institute for Career Development to build career pathways to the new green industries.”

“The United Steelworkers of District 4 are pleased that the joint efforts expended to receive this training grant have borne fruit,” said William J. Pienta, USW District 4 Director. “It demonstrates that the USW is not willing to sit on the sidelines waiting for something to happen, but will work aggressively to secure opportunities to provide job training enabling workers to transition into new green technologies.”

The ARRA investment for New York is part of a broad, national effort to help retrain America’s manufacturers with the new skills they need to succeed in the 21st century economy, rebuild and repower our economy with clean, homegrown sources of energy.