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Match graduates with jobs; Tax credit will help employers develop the needed high-quality work force

Just because job seekers have graduated from high school or college doesn't mean they are ready for the workplace. Employers have pointed out this fact time and again, and now Rep. Kathleen C. Hochul, D-Amherst, is backing legislation that could help ensure meaningful preparations.

Hochul is pushing a partnership between schools and business with the Workforce-Ready Educate America Act. It would give employers a $1,000 tax credit for each student placed in a qualified training program. The credit could help the company provide an internship, for example.

The bill, introduced last month and currently in committee, is a way to better link available jobs and a qualified pool of candidates.

As any human resources officer might attest, there often aren't enough qualified job candidates, even among college graduates, as one might expect. Hochul's office cites a quarter of businesses that cannot find qualified candidates for job openings.

This is a serious problem for Western New York in light of the governor's promise of $1 billion in incentives to boost this area's economy. That boost will come from growing or attracting businesses, and that will require a high-quality work force. It's enough of an issue that business executives recently gathered for a round table discussion with thecongresswoman at the HealthNow headquarters on West Genesee Street.

Hochul heard from business leaders who echoed a similar refrain: job candidates need good communication and problem-solving skills, specifically in the mechanics of writing, and must demonstrate quick thinking necessary in assisting customers.

M&T Bank Corp. CEO Robert G. Wilmers, in his speech at the annual shareholder's meeting, also talked about the urgent need for trained workers and the resulting drag untrained workers create, particularly in upstate New York. M&T is doing more than talk; it is participating in the federal Promise Neighborhood program through the Westminster Community Foundation, which received a $6 million federal grant.

Wilmers rightly took to task the nation's high schools, including those in upstate cities, for failing to adequately prepare students for further studies and for training in fields where jobs are available.

These skills need to be learned, starting in grade school and continuing throughout a child's education.

Students who participate in internships, which some colleges require, tend to be more valuable much sooner in the workplace environment, according to some of the executives who attended the recent round table.

Hochul's bill is one piece of the puzzle in getting students ready to join the work force.