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Bi-county group aims to combat job skills shortage 

Rep. Thomas Suozzi in Plainview on Thursday as

Rep. Thomas Suozzi in Plainview on Thursday as he announces the formation of a task force focused on finding and training skilled workers. Credit: Marisol Diaz-Gordon

A new task force will look at ways to help Long Island take a regional approach to solving its skills shortage, said Rep. Thomas Suozzi, who is leading the effort, at a news conference Thursday.

“We have exciting programs on Long Island, but we need to be better coordinated,” Suozzi (D-Glen Cove) said at Plainview-based Composite Prototyping Center, which provides training in advanced manufacturing techniques.

Among those attending the announcement of the Long Island Apprenticeship and Workforce Development Task Force were representatives of training and workforce development groups from colleges and universities, labor unions and companies. Kevin Law, head of the Long Island Association, the region’s largest business group, also attended, as did both county executives.

“We want to bring all of [the groups] together to try to create one-stop shopping,” Nassau County Executive Laura Curran told the audience.

Suozzi said he and the county executives and others would pick the six to eight members for the task force, which he expects will begin work in the next two weeks and have a report ready around Memorial Day. 

"I want a report that lays out exactly what funding we currently have from all the different sources," he said. And he also wants to know "how we can get all the different programs to coordinate with each other."

One executive who attended with high hopes was Joseph Bryant, director of manufacturing at Precipart, a Farmingdale company that makes precision parts for  the medical and aerospace industries, among others. Precipart, which has 260 employees on Long Island, has eight unfilled jobs and needs machinists, computer-controlled-machine operators and quality-control inspectors, Bryant said.

He said he visits a manufacturing class at Suffolk County Community College every two weeks, where he has found hires and applicants for the company’s apprenticeship program. And the company’s human resources department attends career fairs, too, he said.

He is optimistic that the task force can help ease the search for skilled employees.

“I hope the task force will really get to see the businesses and actually see what the businesses need and see how they can help them,” he said.

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