Innovation Partners - Part I: How We Can Help New Yorkers Gain The Skills Job Creators Are Seeking In The Innovation Economy

Legislative Column from Assemblyman Mark Johns (R,C-Webster)
August 13, 2012

There are currently about 800 unfilled advanced manufacturing jobs in Upstate New York’s most innovative high-tech and precision manufacturing companies. It’s not that these upstate employers don’t want to fill them – the reality is that New York, even with one of the brightest workforces in the nation, lacks the skilled workers needed for these positions. It’s a matter of training workers with the right skills, the kind that are needed for the new high-tech ‘innovation economy.’

I recently brought the Assembly Minority Economic Development, Education and Infrastructure Task Force to Webster with the hopes of developing real solutions to tackle this problem. Going forward, New York’s policies must forge a better path, one which ensures more New Yorkers are employed in these promising high-tech fields and that these companies have the resources to compete aggressively here and globally in their fields.

New York is home to some of the best two-year institutions, and more and more our community colleges are focusing on education for the emerging career fields in technology. We really need to make an effort to remove the stigma that once was and may still be attached to vocational schools, two-year colleges and certificate programs. These institutions are preparing workers for jobs in the ‘innovation economy.’

I believe we can remove that stigma, while attracting students and workers into these programs, by offering an incentive that shows the high value New York puts on these skills development programs. I support the High-Tech Worker NY bill, which provides a personal income tax exemption of up to $50,000 annually for the first five years for new high-tech employees who finished a high-tech training program within the past year.

When API Technologies, a Fairport manufacturer and job creator, tells us this is a big problem, I’m going to listen. We are home to some of the best high-tech manufacturing in the world and New York needs to do its part to make sure we’re supplying these job creators with home-grown talent.

In my next column, I will be discussing other ways that New York can support job creators and how we can take advantage of all that the ‘innovation economy’ can offer. Do you have ideas on how we can improve our economy and increase job prospects for New Yorkers? Please share them with me by calling my office at 223-9130 or e-mailing me at