NYCETC’s Testimony: New York City Council Committee on Finance Executive Budget Hearing

Submitted on May 24, 2023

A recording of this testimony is available here.

I’d like to thank Chair Brannan for his leadership and the opportunity to provide testimony. I’m
Gregory J Morris, CEO of the New York City Employment and Training Coalition (NYCETC) – the largest
city-based workforce development association in the country. NYCETC serves as the ‘industry voice’
of more than 220 workforce development providers in New York City who are counted on to provide
job training to more than 500,000 New Yorkers each year —primarily individuals who live in
under-resourced and underserved neighborhoods. The most recent survey of our membership
indicated that the majority of providers were focused on meeting the needs of women, young adults,
NYCHA residents, and immigrants, refugees, asylum seekers, parents and justice-involved individuals.
It is our coalition that is relied upon to connect New Yorkers – of all ages – in every borough – to
quality jobs and a living wage; and the services and support necessary to secure long-term,
family-sustaining employment.
The need for the services central to our work – job training and
career exploration, internships and apprenticeships, college exploration and access, continuing
education and persistence programs, employment retention and advancement efforts – has only
increased since the onset of COVID-19. At the same time, providers have been overwhelmed by
demand for what has often been described as essential “wrap around” services – direct cash
assistance programs, legal assistance, and child care.

A convergence of political currents and policy choices over the last two years at the local, state, and
federal levels has put New York City’s workforce community on the verge of an unprecedented
opportunity. As of early 2023, the city is finally approaching full recovery of job count lost in the initial
economic shock of the COVID-19 pandemic. Over the rest of this decade, NYC is projected for strong
overall job growth, much of which will not require advanced educational attainment. [The New York
State Department of Labor (NYSDOL) projects that New York City will be home to more than 5.4
million jobs by 2028, a 12.4 percent increase from ten years earlier with substantial growth prospects
for a number of job titles within the healthcare, education, and social services sectors.]

Both New York City and New York State have put in place ambitious goals to reduce carbon emissions
and expand generation from alternate energy sources such as offshore wind. These measures offer
significant job creation potential: as just one example Local Law 97, New York City’s requirement of
emissions caps for buildings larger than 25,000 square feet, is projected to create more than 26,000
green jobs by 2030.

And then, there’s Congress – a set of federal investments that include $1.2 trillion Infrastructure
Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), the $280 billion CHIPS and Science Act, and the $738 billion Inflation
Reduction Act (IRA) – all include measures that could yield billions of dollars for workforce development
services in transportation, construction, broadband development, sustainability and energy efficiency,
and more.

Between formula funding allocations and competitive grant opportunities, New York City potentially
could draw down tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars to support job training and employment

The key word here, however, is “could.”

To take full advantage of workforce opportunities related to these massive federal investments will
require both a strategic perspective and a spirit of cooperation between state and local leaders and our
City needs to have the sufficient capacity and intention to get the work done.

While I applaud this Mayor and this administration for issuing Executive Order 22, advancing
community hiring legislation efforts, honoring labor with new contracts, committing to hiring halls,
putting forward a Working People’s Agenda focused on quality jobs and apprenticeships, and calling
out the longstanding siloing across contracts, funding streams, and programming and the historic and
systemic inequity in employment opportunity and access in New York City, I cannot find in the Mayor’s
Executive Budget the resources to do what’s needed to prepare working people – regardless of their
starting point – for quality jobs. We should double down on job readiness and training while
connecting our workforce to publicly provided services and benefits that can help them overcome
the most common challenges that pop up in New York households: transportation and childcare,
housing affordability and health care.

The Council knows what is needed – its response to the Mayor’s Preliminary Budget for Fiscal Year 2024
and the Fiscal 2023 Preliminary Mayor’s Management Report
– made the case. By investing now, in
workforce development, we will create a transformative moment in our City’s history and recovery.

We can’t afford not to.