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The Buffalo Arts and Technology Center will be a welcome neighbor for the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus as it promises to train the unemployed and underemployed for jobs in a key sector of the local economy.
Much has been written lately about good jobs going unfilled because employers can’t find workers with the right skills. The center, expected to open in 2014, will help fill that gap.
This development comes as the Buffalo Niagara region’s economy increases its emphasis on research, science and medicine. Providing health sciences career training for underemployed and unemployed adults, geared toward the medical campus and other local needs, fits well into that equation.
It’s an opportunity for those desperate for work but unable to qualify for jobs requiring specific skills. It also gives high schoolers a clear idea of how to thread the needle from education to work.
The center is modeled after the Manchester Bidwell Corp. in Pittsburgh, where art and vocational training are successfully going hand in hand. The graduation rate for high school students who have taken part in the program is between 90 and 95 percent.
An encouraging sign for the Buffalo center is the leadership assigned to this new effort.
Amber M. Dixon, a longtime administrator with the Buffalo Public Schools and most recently interim superintendent, will head the effort. This fits in nicely with her strong passion for education and earlier stated wish to move in a positive direction. Her goals are appropriately high, with an aim to serve more than 400 students and 200 adults during the first three years and another ambitious goal of trying to launch the program in 2013.
The new center, which will take up vacant first and lower floor space in the Artspace Buffalo Lofts at 1219 Main St., has received praise from Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy, who made the announcement at Artspace. The center has received more than $4 million in public and private money.
The Buffalo Arts and Technology Center holds the promise of becoming an integral player in creating a well-trained work force in the fields that are key to Buffalo’s economic future.