Rep. Reed Wants To Grow High Tech Industry, But Some Manufacturers Say They Need Workers Who Can Read

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ALFRED, NY (WSKG) – New York Congressman Tom Reed held his 4th annual manufacturing summit on Friday.  Employers from small and midsize manufacturers gathered to find out more about the opportunities in Reed’s district.

This year’s summit was in Alfred, a small college town in western New York. The audience had representatives from manufacturers and community colleges based in Reed’s district. His message was that there’s opportunity in the region for the growing high tech manufacturing sector.

“We’re focusing on real policies that are impacting manufacturers in particular. That they want to have networks and information available to them,” said Reed.

“We’re really trying to make that the cornerstone of the manufacturing summit today and going forward.”

But for many manufacturers, like Minnie Brennan, their biggest problem isn’t a high tech one.

“Our biggest challenge everyday,” she said, “is the employee skill gap. The average employee coming out of high school cannot read or write, cannot read a tape measure, doesn’t show up on time, can’t stay there all day.”

She and her husband own an agricultural equipment manufacturing company in Avoca. Right now, they have 20 employees. At times they’ve employed up to one hundred people.

Brennan said coming to the summit was helpful because she learned that she isn’t alone trying to find workers with the right skills.

Reed is running for a third term. His district covers the western Southern Tier, the Finger Lakes and includes Ithaca, Geneva and Jamestown.