As a member of Invest in Skills NY, a coalition of businesses, economic and workforce development, and postsecondary providers, The Business Council of New York State is pleased the Assembly included a “strategic investment workforce development” in A.9508 TED Article VII, presumably intended to align with the Governor’s 19th State of the State proposal which includes a $175 million investment in workforce development and a new office of workforce development (BCNYS memo). While this language is helpful, it should also include incumbent worker training, and there are additional details to consider in relation to the execution of the Governor’s proposal. Detailed below are recommendations for how The Business Council, with Invest in Skills NY stakeholders, suggest this historic investment be structured.Â
As the Legislature and Governor’s office negotiate a budget agreement, we strongly encourage that funding allocated for workforce development is:
- Allocated through a competitive process that is responsive to local needs throughout the year;
- Funds programs to address skills gaps throughout the entire workforce pipeline; and
- Utilizes this investment to underscore the critical connection between economic and workforce development, and to reduce the silos between business and workforce development. To that end, we ask the Legislature consider opportunities to increase coordination, oversight and implementation of workforce resources through both the New York State Department of Labor and Empire State Development Corporation.
We also emphasize employer engagement is vital to the development of quality workforce programs and encourage employer engagement be a crucial criteria to the award of funding for any new workforce training program. Employers across the state have thousands of open positions, and many are looking at future growth and opportunities to upskill their current workforce, opening up more entry-level positions for new employees. It would benefit the State to acknowledge that “workforce development” is very much “economic development,” and coordinate State agencies and resources accordingly. This coordination could include strengthening the role of the State Workforce Development Board in setting the State’s workforce strategy; requiring funding alignment to regional economic development funding plans; and/or requiring Agencies jointly develop and award the funding applications.
The Invest in Skills NY movement centers on three core tenets: flexibility, accountability, and scaling what works. In response to the Governor’s 19th State of the State proposal and the Assembly and Senate’s budget proposals; we encourage the Legislature to consider legislative language that would allow for the following:
Workforce Development Funding (i.e. job training, postsecondary or career-oriented training) must be flexible, and these newly allocated resources must:
- Support multi-year investments; including resources to build the capacity of the workforce system to respond
- Be accessible throughout the year on a rolling basis
- Engage a cross-section of regional stakeholders and businesses in decision-making
- Be regionally targeted and responsive to local needs; equitably responding to the volume of need each region faces
- Adequately support all New Yorkers; including incumbent workers and those most in need of basic skills development, wage advancement & support to overcome barriers to family sustaining wages
- Invest in what works & in innovation where necessary
The proposed “Office of Workforce Development” or coordinating body such as the NY State Workforce Board must:
- Have the authority and power to transform the State’s workforce system and hold State agencies accountable for statewide outcomes
- Be transparent and accountable for defined outcomes; including publically available snapshots and report cards on progress
- Build a clear one-stop shop website that is responsive to the end user of job and career-seekers and businesses
State-of-the-Art Data Analytics for Workforce must:
- Integrate supply and demand data as well as performance outcomes to measure progress
- Be publicly available
New York employers that are growing and hiring statewide continue to be stymied by finding the right talent. Conversely, thousands of New Yorkers haven’t enjoyed an economic recovery and are still on the sidelines or lack the skills for the available job openings. We have a skills gap that continues to grow; 41% of New Yorkers have a high school diploma or less and the young adult unemployment rate is more than double the state rate at 10.5% with New York City at a rate of 14%. 1 Additionally, nearly 22% of New York’s workers are ages 55 and older, further exacerbating the skills gap and worker shortage.
In order for businesses across New York State to continue to grow and remain in the state, more needs to be done to address these skills gaps and talent issues. As such, The Business Council supports new investments and resources for workforce development in New York State, with priority for programs that are industry driven, with strong performance metrics.