News and Speeches

Deputy Mayors Gibbs and Steel and Chancellor Walcott Announce New Citywide Initiative to Improve Workforce Programs

05/24/2011

Increased Coordination Will Ensure that New York City’s Jobseekers Can Better Access Array of Resources and that Programs Are Effective

Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Linda I. Gibbs, Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Robert K. Steel, and Schools Chancellor and former Deputy Mayor for Education Dennis M. Walcott today announced that, following a comprehensive review of the City’s workforce training programs, they are launching a new initiative to improve and streamline the programs to better serve the City’s workers. While the City’s workforce programs have been highly successful and have resulted in tens of thousands of job placements for New Yorkers, the review found that coordination among the dozen agencies that provide these services could be improved. The new initiative will have three main goals: first, to develop strategies to better serve high-need populations, including young adults and individuals with criminal justice system involvement; second, to advocate for legislative changes at the federal and state level that will improve accountability and efficiency, including access to wage data and stronger oversight of proprietary schools; third, to streamline and organize workforce programs to maximize return on investment and ensure that programs offer the greatest value for New Yorkers. The initiative and report were announced today in a meeting with workforce service providers at City Hall.

“In the wake of the economic downturn, providing training opportunities to New Yorkers who are seeking to advance their careers is one of the most important services we can offer,” said Deputy Mayor Gibbs. “This initiative will serve to make those opportunities more accessible to the people who need them most, and it will allow us to track their success so we know that we are delivering services effectively.”

“New York’s economy has been adding jobs for eight consecutive months, but despite that progress, unemployment remains unacceptably high, which is why getting New Yorkers back to work will remain a top priority of the Bloomberg Administration,” Deputy Mayor Robert K. Steel said. “Better aligning the City’s workforce development efforts that are shared across multiple agencies will allow us to deliver on that important goal.”

“We have a collective responsibility as a City to give our young adults a fair shot at jobs in this competitive economy,” said Schools Chancellor Walcott. “The City has done a remarkable job in workforce placements over the past nine years, but we can do even better by following the recommendations in this report – and by better preparing our public school students for success in college and careers.”

In analyzing the users of workforce services, the report found that approximately two-thirds of customers in the publicly funded workforce system are age 35 or younger. Generally, the customer population is less educated than the City’s overall population, with about a third of individuals reporting less than a high school degree.  The vast majority of all customers were not working at the time they registered for services. The large prevalence of younger customers, in conjunction with data showing that younger workers, minorities and those with less educational attainment face the greatest obstacles in the labor market, helped inform the initiative’s first goal: to develop strategies to better serve young adults and other high-need populations with job training and employment programming.

The second goal, to advocate for legislative change to improve efficiency and accountability, has two priorities: expanded access to wage data maintained by the State, and more robust regulation of for-profit, non-degree-granting proprietary schools. Access to the Wage Reporting System will provide local policymakers a powerful tool to evaluate the effectiveness of workforce efforts. At the same time, the City is working with the New York State Department of Education to more closely monitor the approximately 300 licensed schools, and an equal number of unlicensed schools, that operate throughout the five boroughs. City residents spend millions of dollars, in a mix of public and private funds, to attend these schools each year, but have outcomes of varying quality. The Bloomberg administration is seeking, through advocacy efforts in Albany and Washington, for greater ability to monitor, investigate and respond to complaints about schools, as well as to track school operations and student outcomes and hold proprietary schools to higher performance standards.

The third goal is to streamline and organize the programs and ensure coordination between the twelve agencies that provide workforce services. Many customers access services from multiple agencies; however, referrals, data-sharing, and other forms of cross-agency collaboration are not systematized. To reach this goal, the City will explore ways to develop a customer-focused system, clear delineation of responsibilities and seamless customer relationship management.

The City’s network of nine Workforce1 Career Centers, which connect employers to skilled jobseekers through training and placement services, made a record 29,456 job placements in fiscal year 2010, a 52 percent increase over the previous fiscal year. Two keys to the increase were targeted efforts to identify new employment opportunities in growth sectors such as healthcare and social assistance and retail trade, and new marketing strategies that included email campaigns, a redesigned website and online posting of recruitment events. Ten additional smaller Centers are set to open during calendar year 2011.

The report offers the most complete picture to date of all publicly funded and administered employment, training and workforce education services in New York City, including demographic information on customers served system-wide as well as a complete inventory of programs. It can be read at http://www.nyc.gov/