Summit highlights needs of city’s workforce
by Andrew Pavia
Dec 19, 2012 | 1610 views | 0 0 comments | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Comptroller John Liu at a workforce development summit hosted by the NYCETC.
Comptroller John Liu at a workforce development summit hosted by the NYCETC.
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The New York City Employment and Training Coalition (NYCETC) met in Brooklyn Heights last week to discuss ways to improve the economy and create jobs.

Members of the organization were joined at St. Francis College by some high-profile city leaders, including several 2013 mayoral candidates, who discussed policies they would push if elected.

“As we approach a new area in New York City politics, the workforce development community has a rare opportunity to help set the job training policy agenda for the incoming mayoral administration,” read a statement from NYCETC.

Randy Peers, chair of NYCETC’s Board of Directors, said that the event was critical to keep group members informed. The organization prides itself on having over 200 job training providers across NYC from community-based organizations to colleges and universities.

“We felt it was very important as we kick off this campaign season to bring in the candidates and talk about the issues that our membership cares about,” Peers said.

The NYCETC hosts the summit annually, and said that having the candidates speak about the future of New York’s economy this year was a “no brainer.”

Peers said the organization came up with six points the group felt were of vital importance to New Yorkers, and issues the candidates should think about as they campaign for mayor.

Among those points, NYCETC called for a deputy mayor for Employment and Economic Development to be appointed; closing the skills gap through basic literary skills; supporting workforce development on a local level; and creating a citywide data system to track public and private investment and enhance funding models that leverage private and public funding sources.

Carolina Cordero Dyer, chair of the Legislative, Policy and Advocacy Committee, said the six items reflect the concerns of the members of the organization.

“We made a list of recommendations for them to focus on workforce development which is a crisis situation in New York City,” said Carolina Cordero Dyer, chair of the Legislative, Policy and Advocacy Committee, who said she felt the candidates took the proposals seriously. “We feel pretty optimistic about it.”

Comptroller John Liu, who made a point to tell the audience that he had not officially announced a run for mayor, focused on education.

“We have to pay attention to our education system, and specifically get our students into college and have them finish their college degrees,” he said. “We have to institute policies that create jobs.”

Former Comptroller Bill Thompson said he was serious about appointing a deputy mayor of workforce development. Thompson said the position would, “bring workforce development under one banner,” so the city would be able to focus on the issues that need to be fixed, rather than have them stay stagnant in various agencies.

Public Advocate Bill de Blasio criticized the current administration, noting the 9 percent unemployment rate in New York City. He said change must occur in the public sector to help the private.

He also said the next mayor must have the courage to change things if programs aren't working, admit a mistake was made, and not allow a failing program to continue for the sake of politics.

He said that one thing he saw often in government was, “programs in which success was measured in short-term accomplishments, but there wasn't really the long view of whether the individual had found a pathway to a career and anything like a pathway to the middle class.”

De Blasio said there also needs to be changes in the education system.

“We're going to get everything in our school system right, including career and technical education,” said de Blasio, as well as “real and effective early childhood education which we're simply not doing now.”

He said that many New Yorkers go straight from high school to the workforce, making the knowledge they attain in high school essential. He said the city needs to align the training programs with the real jobs that students will soon find themselves in.

The day also consisted of workshops highlight various issues regarding employment and job training.

“The workshops were more informative,” said attendee Julius Richards. “I learned about different tax incentives that can be used in workforce development to bring youth on to different providers.”

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