Bridges to Better Jobs

May 6th, 2019

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Annie Garneva, 908-678-6013
Evelyn Ortiz, 518-728-9057

Bridges to Better Jobs

Invest in Bridge Programs to Support Economic Mobility for New Yorkers

New York City Council Members including Councilmembers Reynoso, Rivera, Rosenthal, Torres, and Treyger call for Mayor de Blasio to invest $70 Million into workforce programs

NEW YORK, NY- From the steps of City Hall, New York City Council Members Antonio Reynoso (WIlliamsburg/Bushwick), Carlina Rivera (Lower East Side), Ritchie Torres (The Bronx), Mark Treyger (Bensonhurst/Coney Island) and Helen Rosenthal (Upper West Side) called on Mayor Bill de Blasio to invest $70 million in workforce development programming that bridges New Yorkers into better jobs in the New York City Budget for 2020. They were joined by the Invest in Skills NYC coalition who is working to bring attention to the need of increased investment in workforce development across New York.

Bridge programs are vital today because while New York’s economy is growing and creating new opportunities for skilled workers, far too many of our constituents are shut out of this economy because they lack the foundational skills to pursue technical training, college courses, or a skilled career.

Bridge programs build accessible career pathways and economic mobility for all New Yorkers by combining educational programs with a career focus to help jobseekers resolve crucial deficiencies in their educational attainment while simultaneously preparing them for their next step in either education, advanced training, or employment. 43% of New Yorkers have a high school equivalency or less, often leaving them with barriers to entering the training programs that enable them to advance into better jobs. A $70 million investment will bridge the divide between the tens of thousands of New Yorkers with reading and math shortfalls and the skills training programs that will enable them to advance into good jobs. This investment has the potential to empower thousands of New Yorkers to access our growing economy.

The City Council Executive Budget Response included a call for the Mayor to fulfill his promise to invest $60 million in bridge programs this year, and for an additional $10 million to be spent to meet the need that has only grown since 2014.

With our neighborhoods becoming more expensive and our labor market more competitive, we owe it to the many New Yorkers in need of on ramps to opportunity to provide sufficient funding for bridge programs that would help them overcome their deficits in reading and math. Bridge programs will allow the thousands of New Yorkers turned away each year from advanced training or higher education programs get the prerequisite skills they need to pursue their chosen careers.

“Bridge programs are vital for economic access and equity: these are bridges between chronic unemployment and a good new career” said Council Member Carlina Rivera (District 2, Lower East Side). “Bridge programs would help people like the young woman who dreams of a career in construction, but is held back by her 9th-grade math level, get the education and training she needs to become a carpenter or mason.”

“Bridge programs provide New Yorkers with an educational basis that is necessary to obtain employment or advanced literacy skills,” said Council Member Antonio Reynoso (District 34, Williamsburg/Bushwick). “In 2014, the de Blasio administration recognized the importance of bridge programs and committed to $60 million of funding by FY2020. As this deadline approaches, the administration falls excessively short of meeting this target. I am proud to support the Invest in Skills NYC coalition, alongside my colleagues, in demanding that the de Blasio administration make good on its promise. We cannot allow this vital job training resource to be shortchanged.”

“Bridge programs are needed today because NY’s economy is leaving thousands behind – according to Invest in Skills NYC, last year 23% of applicants had to be turned away from advanced training programs because of their low reading or math skills” said Council Member Ritchie Torres (District 15, The Bronx). “For The Bronx, bridge programs would be about rectifying an economic injustice. Too many of my neighbors are witnesses to the new jobs coming to our City, but are unable to enjoy those new jobs themselves, in part because their education levels are holding them back.”

“Bridge programming helps remove barriers and place more employment opportunities within reach for New Yorkers at a time when just 10 percent of local jobs are available to people with less than a high school degree” said Council Member Mark Treyger (District 47, Bensonhurst/Coney Island). “In my district, I fund free high school equivalency classes with a full suite of integrated services – including child care, case management, food assistance, and job skills training – because we know how significant a difference programs like these make for members of our community. The de Blasio administration must know, too, since promises were made to fully fund bridge programs this year. We’re calling on the Administration to keep its promise to fund these programs, deliver these critical services, and help strengthen our city’s social safety net.”

“Given the City’s magnetic appeal, New York City has never struggled to attract some of the best talent in the world,” said Joey Ortiz, Executive Director of the NYC Employment and Training Coalition. “However, in order to ensure that every New Yorkers is afforded the opportunity to be a part of the labor force, the Mayor must make critical investments that provide bridge programs for the thousands of New Yorkers that require them. As the economy continues to thrive, investments into bridge programs open the doors that often shut out marginalized New Yorkers, by providing them the necessary educational on-ramps to access careers in competitive companies and industries that call New York home.”

“New York can continue to invest in attracting new talent and jobs to New York City, but it also needs to turn its attention to making real investments into the human capital across the five boroughs,” said Melinda Mack, Executive Director of the New York Association of Training and Employment Professionals. “Hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers could access better skills and better jobs if we get serious about creating pathways that meet the needs of both career-seekers and employers.”

Kevin Stump, Vice President for Policy, Communications and In School Practice, JobsFirstNYC said: “With more than 118,000 out of school, out of work young adults in New York City, we need to strengthen the economic mobility pipeline by investing in bridge programs that fully address the barriers today’s rising generation is faced with and prepares them to thrive in an ever-evolving economy.”

“Bridge programs can help thousands of New Yorkers facing serious employment barriers to access the skills-building and job training programs they need.” said Jonathan Bowles, Executive Director of the Center for Urban Future. “New York City should invest fully in these highly effective models and ensure that more New Yorkers can get on the path to economic opportunity.”

“Human services are an essential part of New York communities and help people from all walks of life in so many different ways. Workforce development is key to assisting people in finding jobs and building skills, and we need to ensure we are fully funding these programs to meet the need. Nonprofit providers know their communities and they know what it takes to move people to success, and the City should be supporting these programs as well as the nonprofit institutions we all rely on to build a better New York” said Michelle Jackson, Deputy Executive Director, Human Services Council.

“Bridge programs are a proven, effective strategy for moving people into good jobs.” said Julie Shapiro, Executive Director of The Door. “They provide on-ramps to in-demand jobs by creating critical skill-building opportunities that connect with advanced training. The NYCETC and our partners in Invest in Skills urge the city to fulfill its commitment to this effort and invest $70 million, which will yield great results for thousands of New Yorkers who are looking to advance and contribute to our economy.”

“All job seekers deserve to benefit from the economic growth across New York City,” said Kelly Richardson, Managing Director, Newark and New York, Per Scholas. “Bridge programs are a critical piece of the solution and we urge Mayor de Blasio to be a champion for equitable and inclusive talent pipelines that supports New York City from the ground-up. This is an overdue investment in individuals who deserve access to skills and opportunity in the city they call home.”

“After taking a grueling 6 month intensive coding program, I gained the technical prowess and computational thinking skills needed to service tech contracts with like MIT, Uber, Roku, Cognizant, The Knowledge House, Maritime Global Technology Innovation Center and more,” said Sam Lemfadli, alumnus of the CodeBridge at Per Scholas NY and Workforce Development Immersive at General Assembly, and co-founder of The Urban Wild. “It’s because of the workforce development programs like these that opportunities became available to me where they weren’t before. While I always had the passion and desire to create the impact that I have in the last few years, it’s because of this pathway into technology that I was able to do so. All New Yorkers like myself who have the talent and interest to pursue these careers should be able to do so through critical investments in bridge programs.”

“A real investment in Bridge Programs will allow all New Yorkers access to their dream careers, in construction and other growth industries, through contextualized programming like that at NEW – one where thousands of women throughout the five boroughs are building New York City through family-sustaining high quality careers with real advancement opportunities,” said Kathleen Culhane, President of Nontraditional Employment for Women. “Let’s bring all New Yorkers up, and work toward a future where everyone has access to the training and education they need to build a brighter future, which provides tailored training and trusted access to robust career paths in construction.”

“Employment is a fundamental building block of self-sufficiency, human dignity, and the economy of New York City,” said David Garza, Executive Director of Henry Street Settlement. “Settlement houses serve some of the most vulnerable New Yorkers across myriad populations. As service providers, we believe it is imperative that the city creates and supports access to quality training programs and jobs by addressing labor market skills gaps and the real needs of people who want to work. If our economic and workforce development systems are further marginalizing and shutting out New Yorkers from our growing economy, instead of lifting them into it, they are broken and unjust. Significant investments in bridge programs, including Career Pathways, are critical to building the educational on-ramps that thousands of New Yorkers require in order to access and thrive in an meaningful career and that businesses need in order to succeed.”

“Additional money for bridge programming means that CWE providers can serve a greater number of New Yorkers who need career-focused education. Some of CWE’s most valuable community-based organizations include bridge programs that prepare job seekers with the education, skills training, or employment services they need to connect with in-demand career tracks,” said Joe McDermott, Executive Director, Consortium for Worker Education. “We encourage the Mayor and the City Council to fulfill their commitment to investing in bridge programs in this year’s budget.”

Invest in Skills NYC is a city-wide coalition that understands the economic imperative of investing in a skilled workforce for New York State and New York City. The coalition aims to make workforce development an economic priority and achieve policy change that streamlines the workforce development system through significant sustained state and local investment. The partnership is led by the New York Association of Training and Employment Professionals, JobsFirstNYC, and the NYC Employment and Training Coalition.