FOR A GOOD CAUSE: CNY Works: Lenore Sealy, Executive Director

Tell me in your own words about what CNY Works does.

CNY Works is a not for profit (501 (c)(3)) corporation and serves as the Onondaga County Workforce Development Board (OCWDB). CNY Works’ mission is to develop, attract, maintain and retain a workforce that will support economic prosperity for the immediate community and the Central New York Region. We bring together business, economic development, education and community partners to develop strategies aligning services that maximize the impact of workforce development throughout the community. Specific emphasis is placed on supporting job seekers with the most significant employment barriers to overcome.

CNY Works, Inc.  administers the American Job Center affiliate, CNY Works Career Center, at 960 James St. in Syracuse. A variety of career services are available to assist job seekers to develop contemporary career skills in the in-demand occupations and career pathways in Central New York. Business engagement strategies supporting employers in attracting, developing and retaining a skilled workforce are key to economic development initiatives within our community. Through business engagement, economic development, and growing and training a skilled workforce CNY Works, Inc. strengthens workforce development initiatives within our community.


What kind of services does the agency offer?

The CNY Works Career Center provides job seekers and business services. Unemployed and under-employed job seekers are welcome to utilize the CNY Works Career Center. Job seekers are teamed with a workforce advisor to customize an employability plan that best meets the job seeker’s goal in securing sustainable employment. Career services include an assessment of the job seeker’s skills; training grants; job search assistance; resume development; interview assistance; and technology training. Job seekers have access to a full-service resource center that provides access to technology, copiers, telephones, print materials and staff support; career fairs; employer recruitments; labor market information; and more.


How do you help employers?

We assist employers in filling open positions, training their new and incumbent workforce, and supporting other human resource needs. Specifically, we assist employers in recruiting qualified candidates for open positions. The CNY Works Career Center provides meeting space to employers to screen and interview applicants, hold career fairs and targeted recruitments to access qualified candidates expeditiously. Training grants are available to employers to offset the costs of developing and upgrading their workforce.


Can you tell me about the various specific populations you help (youth, veterans, people with disabilities, returning citizens, migrant farm workers, etc.)?

All populations served by the CNY Works Career Center share a need to know and understand the local labor market information on the jobs that are currently available in the Central New York Region. They also need to know the education and training requirements that they need to meet in order to secure one of these jobs.  Not only do the job seekers need to know about today’s available jobs in our community, but they also need to know how to plan for the jobs that are anticipated to be available in our community in the future.

The commonalities that they share include career exploration; attaining educational requirements and job skills; demonstrating work readiness and “soft” skills; and basic computer and digital literacy skills.  The CNY Works Career Center functions to assess job seekers in their skill levels, identify deficiencies, link job seekers to appropriate education and training resources, and supports job seekers in their attainment of short- and long-term career goals.


Why is what you do so important to the community? To the local economy?

CNY Works, Inc.  helps to bridge the gap between employers and their business needs for a skilled and qualified workforce and job seekers’ needs to develop career and work readiness skills leading to employment. Essentially, CNY Works, Inc. matches employers and workers with jobs. Instead of looking at the bridge analogy, you can think of “Fiddler on the Roof” and the “Matchmaker.” CNY Works serves as the “Matchmaker” between employers and job seekers.


Is there anything I didn’t ask that you think people should know?

Everyone should be developing their career skills throughout their work life. We should always be considering factors such as our values, the job we are in (or hope to be in), how this job fits with the employer, where the business fits in the industry cluster, and how these industry clusters and related businesses will develop over time. We should take advantage of opportunities for training and development; this is like insurance to help us stay competitive in our current job as well are helping us to be prepared for new opportunities. Sadly, career development is often put on the back burner until a crisis like an unexpected job loss occurs. This is like addressing a medical problem after the diagnosis and prognosis rather than developing a lifestyle that could best prevent the health problems from occurring in the first place.

The good news is that CNY Works is here to aid and support our community by offering career development services.  Job seekers are encouraged to be pro-active rather than reactive in their career choices. Finding a job and developing one’s career is a different journey for each person. CNY Works, Inc. and the CNY Works Career Center are here to support the journey and be the “Matchmaker” for Central New York’s workforce development system.

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