Measuring Middle Skills Occupational Gaps Within the WNY Regional Economy

This study was produced in partnership with WNY STEM Hub and Monroe County Community College’s Economic Development and Innovative Workforce Services division, and was sponsored by the SUNY TEAM (Training and Education in Advanced Manufacturing) Project.

Find the full report here.

Who will staff tomorrow’s workforce? 

This report examines the critical and emerging needs in Erie, Niagara, Allegany, Cattaraugus and Chautauqua counties as retirement and attrition butt up against explosive job growth in key industries, creating gaps that the current pipeline of future workers can’t fill. The hole is particularly wide in the middle – namely technicians, licensed professionals, and skilled laborers – which will impact almost every profession from automotive technician to zigzag machine operator. By definition, middle skill jobs require a level of training beyond high school in programs generally taught at community college in degree or certificate programs.

Key findings from the report indicate:

There is a gap between supply and demand for three of the four occupational groupings (Mechanical Engineering Technologies, Mechatronics (integrated engineering technologies), Tooling and Machining). Electrical engineering technology is the only field where the region is producing a small surplus of workers.

 What the Numbers Say:

28,118 middle skills occupations in advanced manufacturing related jobs

10% approaching retirement age

565 annual regional completions

894 estimated openings

631% new local workers

36.8% jobs may go unfilled


17,031 mechatronics workers

25% approaching retirement age

266 annual regional completions

44.7% new local workers

594 annual estimated openings

55.2% jobs may go unfilled


9,463 tooling and machining workers

27% approaching retirement age

53 annual regional completions

363 estimated openings

14.8% new local workers

85.1% jobs may go unfilled


6,526 mechanical engineering technology workers

26% approaching retirement age

76 annual regional completions

242 annual estimated openings

32.2% new local workers

67.7% jobs may go unfilled

This measurement aims to provide a high-level gap analysis, comparing total estimated number of learners completing a relevant middle skills training and education program within the region against estimated industry demands for middle skills workers.  The data is not predictive: rather it is based on estimates derived from several proprietary big data labor market providers with a validation process that involves defining each group of occupations with local input.