U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand along with Congressmembers Brian Higgins and Chris Collins announced $303,000 in federal funding through the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) for the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority (NFTA) to advance employment efforts that support “ladders of opportunity” for Western New York job seekers.
“Providing New Yorkers with essential training and skills will allow them to thrive in the 21st Century global marketplace,” saidSenator Schumer. “This grant will go a long way towards training workers, and ensuring that NFTA has a ready and well-trained workforce. I will continue working to secure federal funding to recruit and train the next generation of workers.”
“These federal funds will help advance employment opportunities in Western New York’s public transit,” said Senator Gillibrand. “More skilled transit workers who have top notch training means better service for commuters and local residents. I will continue to push for funding that helps create jobs and long lasting careers while also enhancing transportation services in New York.”
“With more than 1,500 jobs system-wide the NFTA is a major employer in Western New York,” said Congressman Higgins. “We applaud their work in securing this highly competitive grant and continued efforts to provide quality job opportunities to an eager local workforce.”
“As businesses in Western New York know and the rest of the world is now discovering, our region has one of the best workforces in the nation,” said Congressman Collins. “This type of grant ensures that we continue to invest in our region’s greatest asset – its people. I want to commend the leadership of the NFTA and the other members of our delegation for their leadership and cooperation in securing this investment for our region.”
“A highly-trained workforce is vital to the safe and efficient delivery of Metro bus and rail services,” said Kimberley A. Minkel, NFTA Executive Director. “This workforce development program will provide an opportunity for collaboration with the Buffalo and Erie County Workforce Investment Board, Veterans Affairs and Erie 1 BOCES to recruit, train and provide stable, meaningful careers in the public transportation industry for western New Yorkers.”
The NFTA plans to develop a mechanic and electrician training program to address NFTA workforce shortages among these skilled-labor positions. The training program will involve a three-part approach to recruit, train, and provide career pathways for traditionally underserved populations including minorities, veterans, and the long-term unemployed. The training program will also provide continuing education training for incumbent NFTA employees to gain additional skills necessary to advance to upper-level mechanic and electrician positions with the organization. The project will also allow for the purchase of a training bus to support training activities.
The grant is provided through the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) Innovative Public Transportation Workforce Development Program, “Ladders of Opportunity Initiative.” Congress approved and the FTA authorized $9 million for the program nationwide. The goal is to support public transportation workforce initiatives aimed at building ladders of opportunity that advance workers to the middle class while elevating the critical skillset needed in the public transit industry.