New food processing facilities are popping up across western New York, and they're generating demand for skilled workers to operate them.
Cornell University is already teaching students about the food processing industry in Ithaca and collaborating with Rochester Institute of Technology and community colleges to expand training programs across western New York.
Tristan Zubar, of the Cornell Cooperative Extension in Genesee County, is involved in the plan to create short courses, certificate and degree programs in food manufacturing.
"There's a lot of need for understanding of regulatory of requirement, especially with increasing regulation within the United States food processing industry. So understanding processing equipment, understanding the chemistry, food safety and microbiology behind the products that are produced at some of these facilities is important."
Zubar says the training is designed to raise awareness amongst high schools students and veterans about work in the sector, and help advance the careers of people already in the industry.
"Over 16,000 jobs are created in western New York by food processors and it's just amazing that they do struggle to find qualified individuals."
Zubar says the program also aims to keep young people from moving out of state for work. The effort is also partnering with National Fuel and the Genesee County Economic Development Center.
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The Innovation Trail is a collaboration between six upstate New York public media outlets. The initiative, funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), helps the public gain a better understanding of the connection between technological breakthroughs and the revitalization of the upstate New York economy.