Cuomo eyes strengthening workforce development in 19th proposal

Governor Andrew Cuomo announced his 19th initiative inside his 2018 State of the State.

The proposal would strengthen workforce development in New York, building on what the Governor calls the success of the Excelsior Scholarship and other initiatives to equip New Yorkers with tools to succeed in the new economy.

The Governor proposes a comprehensive workforce development program to ensure all New Yorkers have access to training to meet growing workforce needs and continue to move New York’s economy forward. The new Office of Workforce Development will implement a multi-pronged plan to strategically target local workforce needs in emerging industries across the state and help workers and businesses succeed in the 21st century economy.

“Our comprehensive economic development strategy has helped spur growth and job creation across this great state, but rapidly advancing technology and global competition demands that we prepare New Yorkers for the economy of tomorrow,” Governor Cuomo said. “While we have made great strides, we must expand and overhaul our workforce training programs now in order to equip our workers with the necessary skills to succeed in the future.”

“As I travel across the state, and as Chair of the Regional Economic Development Councils, I have heard universally from business owners in emerging industries that they have tech jobs ready to be filled, but they don’t have adequately trained professionals to hire for those roles,” Lieutenant Governor Hochul said. “This Administration understands that for New York State to compete in the future, we must prepare our workforce to succeed in the global innovation economy. That’s why this proposal to strategically invest in workforce development and job training is critical to Governor Cuomo’s strategy for the future growth of this state, and will ensure workers and businesses succeed in the 21st century.”‎

Since Governor Cuomo took office, New York’s economy has created more than 1 million private sector jobs, and the State’s unemployment rate has dropped from 8.3 percent to 4.7 percent. At the same time, Governor Cuomo’s landmark minimum wage legislation is contributing to real income growth in New York that is out pacing growth nationwide. But in the midst of this economic growth today, Governor Cuomo recognizes the urgent necessity of preparing New Yorkers for the good-paying jobs of tomorrow.

On average, there will be nearly 362,000 job openings each year in New York over the next 10 years. Many of those jobs will require a college degree, and with the Excelsior Scholarship, New York became the first state in the nation to make free college a reality – because by 2024, nearly 3.5 million jobs in New York State will require an associate’s degree or higher, which is roughly 420,000 more jobs than in 2014.

To complement these efforts, Governor Cuomo also established the youth jobs tax credit and made historic investments in SUNY and CUNY. Governor Cuomo has also invested $300 million annually in career and technical education training and more than $265 million in job preparation and training programs for youth, in addition to the $160 million Youth Jobs Program and $47 million to create early college high schools — an innovative program where high school students are trained in a specialty area, earn a free degree/certification and are first in line for a job.

However, there are still “skills gaps” to be filled so that all New Yorkers have access to a better job in many of the state’s growing industries. Governor Cuomo will build on these achievements by taking historic steps to strengthen workforce development in New York.

Establish New, $175 million Consolidated Funding Application Through the REDCs

Creating the Consolidated Funding Application for economic development funds is one of the Governor’s signature economic development achievements — a bottom-up approach that brings together higher education, industry and government leaders to plan the future of their region. The State has invested more than $5.4 billion through the Regional Economic Development Councils that have funded more than 6,300 projects and supports more than 220,000 jobs across the state. Building on the success of this bottom-up model, establishing a new Consolidated Funding Application for workforce investments would support strategic regional efforts that meet businesses’ short-term workforce needs, improve regional talent pipelines, expand apprenticeships, and address the long-term needs of expanding industries—with a particular focus on emerging fields with growing demand for jobs like clean energy, health technology, and computer science. Funds would also support efforts to improve the economic security of women, youth, and other populations that face significant barriers to career advancement. The funding for the workforce CFA will consist both of $150 million in new, flexible resources and $25 million in existing streams of workforce funding.

Create New Office of Workforce Development

Currently, there are dozens of programs available in various agencies, but if we are to maximize our capacity to meet the state’s workforce needs, the state needs to better integrate this fragmented process. The Office of Workforce Development will serve as a focal point of accountability and coordination for all workforce training programs for the state, including the new CFA program. Headed by a new Director of Workforce Development, the Office will establish standards for program performance and ensure alignment with the economic development goals of the state and the individual regions. The Director will serve on the State Workforce Investment Board, the Strategic Implementation Assessment Team (which reviews proposals submitted by the 10 Regional Economic Development Councils), and the Regional Community College Councils.

Launch One-Stop Shop for Workers and Businesses

The State will create a new One-Stop Shop for all New York’s Workforce that offers key information to workers and businesses through a straightforward and useful online portal. The One-Stop Shop will provide workers seeking jobs in New York State with a single, centralized resource to help them navigate the support programs that the State has to offer. It will also offer businesses a central point of access to the wide range of services the State provides to assist them in hiring employees.

Utilize State-of-the-Art Data Analytics to Plan and Map New York’s Innovation Economy

Under Governor Cuomo’s leadership, communities across Upstate New York are seeing an economic resurgence, thanks in large part to little-known, fast-growing innovation economies—from the computer gaming industry in the Capital Region to data and software companies in Central New York’s drone corridor.

However, the State does not currently have the data to map the workforce needs of New York’s economy effectively. Monroe County Community College currently utilizes an innovative data mining methodology to identify local workforce needs with more precision than BLS and Census data.

The Director of Workforce Development will lead an initiative to take this methodology to scale, ensuring that all regions have access to the data needed to develop sector-based workforce development plans.  This information will allow New York to better target its workforce investments and better attract top talent and top companies to the communities that need them most.

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