Melinda's testimony appears at approximately 2:31
Testimony of New York Association of Training & Employment Professionals (NYATEP)
Before the New York State Senate Task Force on Workforce Development
Bridging the Employment Gap
Honorable Jack Martins, Co-Chair
Honorable George Amedore, Co-Chair
Senate Task Force on Workforce Development
Presented by Melinda Mack, Executive Director
Good afternoon, my name is Melinda Mack. I am the Executive Director of the New York Association of Training and Employment Professionals, also known as New York State’s workforce association. We’re made up of over 140 organizations that are deeply committed to workforce development as economic development. We consider a human capital strategy critical to the success of New York’s businesses and to our citizens’ economic security. Founded in the late 1970’s, our membership has grown to represent all 62 counties, and includes workforce investment boards, providers of economic development, literacy, education, job training, and employment services. Our members range from small community based organizations that work within neighborhoods or with special populations, like those with criminal justice histories or youth, to huge institutions like the City University of New York and Goodwill of NY and NJ. To support our members, and the wider workforce community, we provide advocacy, operate pilot programs and conduct professional development to support an effective and thriving workforce development network in New York State.
I’d like to start by thanking each of you here today and to Senator Jack Martins and Senator George Amedore for leading this effort.
I am here today because we know that more skilled and employed New Yorkers, means more than just jobs. It means communities are healthier, local economies are stable; there is a larger base of consumers and taxpayers, and ultimately more profitable businesses.
Despite the benefits of a robust human capital strategy, New York State has not made workforce development a priority. Other states like Mississippi, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, and even Louisiana have dedicated significant state resources to developing a range of workforce initiatives primarily focused on training that have been cited as national promising practices. In our state, investing in “skills” has long meant providing resources to the “traditional” education pipeline geared towards young people including K-12, and expanding college access. These are critical investments, and they should not diminish. However, we also need to invest in the millions of people who are already in the workforce or who want to work. In New York State alone, two thirds of people expected to be in the workforce in 2025 were already working adults in 2010 – well past the reach of the much talked about high school-to-college pipeline.
I ask you to think about your own career pathway, your children’s career pathway; what about your mechanic or barber or even your bank teller. One thing they have in common is that no matter the job, it requires a skillset that you needed to learn. “Eighty-six percent of American employers say they would pay more for a job candidate with the right training, hands-on experience, and practical knowledge.”[i] A robust human capital strategy means recognizing that one needs to continue to have access to education, job training and skills development – including English language acquisition, literacy and numeracy, on-the-job, short-term and career oriented postsecondary education -- throughout adulthood. Because career paths are iterative, we need to invest in opportunities to adapt ones skills to meet the ever changing needs of the current and future economy.
Even though we can all agree, a skilled workforce matters. Just in the past ten years funding at the federal level for job training and workforce services has decreased by 50%, and the State has either dramatically scaled back or chosen not to find resources for the programs that get New Yorkers the basic education, work readiness, and employer-specific skills needed. In a recent analysis we completed with the Center for an Urban Future, just since 2009 funding has decreased by nearly $30 million in New York State. And, the result is open jobs remain unfilled, and workers are without the skills they need to compete. It is a lose, lose situation.
So, what can we do?
There are two key ingredients that make workforce development successful: education and training that meets local workforce needs and is informed by employers, and flexibility to meet both the employer and jobseeker needs. Local workforce areas understand that there is no “one-size-fits-all” approach to training, and also understand that in some cases it will take years for jobseekers to reach their career goals. Additionally, a training program that is cumbersome or too slow for businesses; means they won’t participate.
We need the State Legislature to work with the local workforce investment boards to understand the locally driven employment needs, and scale the evidence-based programs already in action. You don’t need to create something new, there is already an infrastructure in place; including programs and relationships with businesses that are ready to scale. Many of these local programs are funded by the federal workforce dollars, through the Workforce Investment Act (soon to be Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act), resources from the Workforce Development Institute, private philanthropy, and local tax levy dollars, but they need more resources.
For example at the New York Alliance for Careers in Healthcare in NYC and Finger Lakes Advanced Manufacturing Enterprise are sector-based initiatives that work with consortia of employers and the local workforce system to create pipelines of skilled workers. Or, initiatives like Chautauqua Advancement Project (CAP) that help participants engage directly with employers and earn and learn on the job, just to name very few. There are many more examples from all 33 local workforce systems, educational providers and community based organizations.
With the news that the State will have the fortune of a surplus again next year, we have a unique opportunity to create a system that is resourced to treat human capital as critical to the State’s current and future economic success. Other states are ahead of the game by deliberately setting aside a portion of their available tax levy resources, or generating new funding to ensure that federal funding gaps don’t go unfilled. Additionally, if the State is really looking to achieve long-term, lasting results we encourage the State Legislature and the Governor’s office reassesses how the State makes investments in economic development, aimed at creating jobs. Currently, the Regional Economic Development Councils are investing just over 1 percent of available funds to support job training. We know that job training and workforce services are a good investment that have been evaluated and measured, more so than many of the massive economic development investments currently made in the state.
Finally, with the passage of the new law that governs federal workforce resources, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), the State has the opportunity to utilize the State Workforce Investment Board to develop a clear and compelling State workforce strategy to incorporate adult workforce services, youth workforce services, adult basic education and postsecondary education, including well-defined interconnections to the State’s economic priorities. The plan should utilize up to date labor market data and program performance analysis to evaluate what programs are working and where the strategy needs to be readjusted.
In addition to expanding training and education, the State must support system-building activities: aligning data systems, setting common definitions and processes across programs, and ensuring that both jobseekers and employers can easily access the workforce programs best matched to their needs and circumstances. None of this will be a small task, or uncomplicated, but if we are truly talking about a system that creates the workforce of today and tomorrow, we need the State’s leadership and resources to drive the change.
Thank you for the invitation to speak with you today. I would be happy to address any questions you have.
A Sampling of Promising Programs (these are just a few of the vast number we can provide):
In its fourth year, Project Rise at Kingsborough Community College provides supportive educational opportunities to low-income, young adults who are disconnected from both school and employment and are seeking to discover their individual and career goals. Services include intensive preparation for the GED®/TASC, work readiness training, college introductory classes, paid internships and job placement services, all supported by individualized case management. Located at Kingsborough and generously supported by its campus, the program transforms participants from simply GED®/TASC seekers, into college- and employment-bound young adults. Since spring 2011, the program has served 160 participants. Forty-four have earned their GEDs, 82 college credit hours have been earned and 14 have enrolled in college. As a result of our intensive workforce training initiatives, over 50 participants have gained unsubsidized employment at locations such as Sunrise Senior Living Facility, Brighton Beach Business Association and NYU Langone Medical Center, just to name a few.
The Chautauqua Advancement Project (CAP) internship program is an innovative paid internship program for young professionals who have recently graduated from college or will be graduating in the current year, sponsored by the Gebbie Foundation. The program hopes to attract and retain a talented workforce that supports young professionals to start careers in the Jamestown area. To date, the CAP program has worked with over 40 young professionals and has successfully retained the talents of at least half of those interns at local businesses.
Finger Lakes Advance Manufacturing Enterprise (FAME) was established in conjunction with the local workforce investment board to find solutions to the issues that matter most in advanced manufacturing. This includes improving collaboration with workforce programs to support advanced manufacturing companies recruit, hire and train skilled workers; working with local educational institutions to develop curriculum to build a pipeline of skilled qualified advanced manufacturing candidates by engaging K-12 youth interested in pursuing manufacturing careers; and, working to raise awareness about the importance and attractiveness of, and opportunities in, advanced manufacturing. To date 61 partners are engaged, and 591 youth have participated in internships, mentorships or have taken site tours. Additionally, in conjunction with business partners, Finger Lakes Community College has developed an Advanced Automation Associates Program, Instrumentation and Control Technologies Degree Program and Clean Room Technician Certificate Program.
Health Professions Opportunity Grant program (HPOG) was formed in 2010 after Schenectady County Community College (SCCC) received the single largest grant in the college’s history ($11.457 MM) to train professionals for new jobs in the healthcare field. Since its inception, more than 1,139 students (95%) have completed training and 78% are employed. The program targets TANF recipients, and provides robust wrap around supports through a network of partners to provide career readiness, uniforms, books, transportation, childcare, among others. Building on the strengths of the partners, SCCC provides the administration and oversight, classroom instruction and clinical supervision; and partners with local area employers to provide hand-on training. The program integrates proven practices like the I-BEST model to support integrated instruction; an employer advisory group; and multiple, deep partnership to aid in participant success.
NY Alliance for Careers in Healthcare (NYACH) partners with trade associations and industry groups representing major subsectors of healthcare (hospitals, community health centers, nursing and residential care facilities, and home care providers), 1199SEIU Training and Employment Funds, the City University of New York (CUNY), NYC Department of Small Business Services , and local community-based organizations. Together they identify pressing workforce needs and supports training initiatives that provide viable career opportunities for low-income and unemployed New Yorkers. NYACH facilitates communication between employers, training providers, and other partners on program design, curriculum enhancement, and job placement/promotion, and provides programmatic and financial support for initiatives. NYACH initiatives prepare students to work in the following healthcare industry sub-sectors: ambulatory care, acute care, home care, and nursing and residential facility care.
Finger Lakes Community College /GW Lisk Advanced Manufacturing Machinist (AMM) training program is in its fourth year of delivery and continues to achieve a 95%+ success rate for program completion, job placement and retention. This model of training includes an extensive profile process that selects those with a natural disposition towards a machining career, into the program. The AMM training program is delivered on-site at GW Lisk, facilitating a real world work experience while integrating a critically needed learning environment and experience, developed in collaboration with higher education.
The outcome is to produce a highly technical skilled employee that will successfully perform the job as well as develop the dependable and reliable employee. This program’s success relies heavily on the collaboration between the employer and the educational institution; each whom brings their expertise to the table. The model also includes other integral partners that participate in the overall effort, including local county workforce offices that assist with the potential candidate assessment process and tuition funding where applicable. The partnership between FLCC and GW Lisk has been extended to ITT Goulds Pumps in Seneca County.
[i] Mourshed, Mona, Diana Farrell, and Dominic Barton. 2012. “Education to Employment: Designing a System That Works.” McKinsey Center for Government http://mckinseyonsociety.com/education-to-employment/report/