Solvay paper mill, other manufacturers rely on state-funded apprenticeship program to fill jobs

Local News

SOLVAY, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — State Senator John Mannion continued his tour of his district celebrating the newly-passed state budget by visiting WestRock on Milton Avenue in Solvay Thursday.

WestRock is a paper mill that takes in paper waste that ends up in recycling bins on the side of the road and produces new paper to be made into boxes mainly seen in the grocery store.

Mannion’s focus at WestRock was to tout the state budget including $750,000 for another round of an apprenticeship program that offers lesser-skilled workers on-the-job training in trades like electric and mechanics.

WestRock has 16 openings for technicians and other manufacturing companies are struggling to find enough skilled trades people as their older staff retires.

Senator Mannion says there are as many as 1,500 of these kinds of jobs open across Central New York.

Martha Ponge, who runs apprentice programs from the Manufacturers Association of Central New York, says, “I know it’s a skills gap that people don’t people have the experience and the knowledge, but I also think it’s a gap in knowledge of understanding that that these great jobs exist.”

“Our jobs take nothing more than GED or high school. We’ll teach them the rest,” says Peter Tantalo, the general manager of WestRock’s Solvay plant.

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