Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving Edition Resources

On this Thanksgiving day, we'd like to express our appreciation for all the organizations and dedicated individuals in New York City that work tirelessly on behalf of disadvantaged youth. 

Below are a few recent announcements that might be of use to practitioners:

  • The New York City Employment and Training Coalition' Annual Summit will take place on December 2. Visit: to register.

  • Protect Your Money: Know Before You Enroll Campaign.  New York City's Office of Financial Empowerment has launched a new campaign -- Protect Your Money: Know Before You Enroll -- to educate New Yorkers about predatory school scams and highlighting free and low-cost school choices. This is very welcome and important news for young people considering enrolling into college.
  • Article 23-A Hiring Guide for NYC Employers Released.  The Doe Fund has released a guide to the little known and often misunderstood Article-23A New York State law that regulates how employers consider job applicants who have criminal records.  Written for employers, How To Comply With Article 23-A When Hiring (PDF) explains in clear language what employers may and may not ask about criminal histories, the factors they must weigh in deciding whether the criminal record merits exclusion from a job, and protections provided to employers who follow the law.  This publication was put together with financial support from The Doe Fund, and the contributions of many industry experts.   
 JobsFirst NYC wishes everyone a happy, healthy and joyful Thanksgiving! 

Monday, November 14, 2011

Read All About It: Highlights from the Fall 2011 CBO Network Meeting

 Highlights from the Fall 2011 CBO Network Meeting 

On October 25, the JobsFirstNYC CBO Network reconvened at the Door in Manhattan. This was a great event, and since the information was so helpful, we are sharing what was included to our full network for those that could not attend that day. 

John Twomey, the Executive Director of NYATEP, joined us to provide an update on what is happening on the policy front concerning policies specific to young adults and workforce issues, and notably highlighted some of the challenges we are all facing in terms of both the in school and out of school unemployed young adult population in New York City. Of note, he referenced a recent report from McKinsey and Company that highlights some of these challenges in terms of building a globally competitive workforce in the near and longer-term. He also provided some thoughts on the current state of the American Jobs Act (and the implications of this act on out of school/work younger adults) and also provided some concrete next steps for people to consider in terms of advocating for this vulnerable and evolving group of young people. You can download John's presentation here (PDF). 

Jonathan Bowles of Center for an Urban Future (CUF), along with consultants Margaret Stix and Glenn Von Nostitz presented preliminary findings regarding what we are currently calling "Second Chance of a Life Time" (working title). JobsFirstNYC has commissioned CUF to reprise the 2006 Chance of a Lifetime publication in order to take a closer look at where there may be employment opportunities in the near-term and future economy for young adults. This report, which will focus on specific occupations, not necessarily sectors, will unearth some interesting, even counter-intuitive ideas about where young people today can prepare for meaningful and competitive jobs in tomorrow - especially where there may be continued growth and demand specific to the featured occupations. We hope that this report will released before the conclusion of the 2011 calendar year; stay tuned for more details. 

Bettina Damiani of Good Jobs New York (GJNY) presented ideas (PDF) on how tax subsidy and industrial development subsidy information can be effectively leveraged to assist workforce practitioners to both prospect for jobs and to engage businesses that are new to specific neighborhoods in the City. For many years, the publication of subsidy information seemed to be a best-kept secret, but due to the great advocacy work of GJNY, this information has been made much more understandable and usable by the public through the GJNY subsidy snapshots -- listings of subsidies by community boards throughout the city.  Bettina also shared helpful tools they have developed or rely upon:

  • Sign up for our monthly subsidy alert (learn about public hearing

If you missed this event but wanted to see the agenda, you can get it here.  For more information, please contact Gwen Hill.  

The next CBO Network Meeting will take place on January 31, 2012 from 9-11:30, so save the date/time; location and other details to follow.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Shadow Work, Or the Rise of the Machines

"Remains Of Ancient Race Of Job Creators Found In Rust Belt" recently proclaimed the headline on the ever trenchant The Onion website.  The article described the ruins of America's industrial heartland as if they were the remains of an ancient civilization that, amazingly, once provided high paying jobs to all its inhabitants.

As to how the ancient cities of employment fell into ruin, scholars have argued the job creators may have exhausted their resources or, perhaps, been killed off by a competing race of foreign job creators.

"The remaining local population has its own mythology to explain the job-creating race's disappearance," Decker said. "Legend has it that they never died out, but rather entered a state of deep slumber from which they will one day awaken, bringing increased employment with them."

"And perhaps it's best to let the locals hold on to this belief," Decker added. "It's really the only thing they have left."

The bittersweet humor, of course, comes from the fact that America's manufacturing prowess led the world until just a generation ago when a combination of forces -- industrial automation, cheaper foreign goods, the stagnating competitiveness of American companies, anti-unionism, free trade agreements, stricter environmental regulations, etc. -- caused millions of blue collar jobs to disappear.  In the wake of deindustrialization, workers at the bottom of the labor ladder have seen their opportunities for living wage employment shrink dramatically.    

Alarmingly, the forces that decimated American manufacturing are now working their way through white collar jobs as well.

Technology, of course, has been eliminating service jobs for years.  Americans now do increasingly amounts of unpaid "shadow work," a term coined by the Austrian philosopher and social critic Ivan Illich, in their day-to-day activities that once would have been handled by actual workers.  ATMs have reduced the need for bank tellers; word processors replaced stenographers; self-service checkout lines have displaced cashiers and baggers at brick-and-mortar stores; travel websites and airport check-in kiosks have reduced the number of agents needed; DVD rental by mail has eliminated video stores altogether.  We accept this shifting of responsibility because it often leads to lower costs or greater convenience. 

But as the pace of technology improves, the range of jobs being eliminated has exploded.  In their new book, Race Against the Machine: How the Digital Revolution is Accelerating Innovation, Driving Productivity, and Irreversibly Transforming Employment and the Economy (2011), MIT researchers Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew P. McAfee examine technology’s role in the jobless recovery over the past two years.  They note that rapidly growing productivity among American workers and record corporate profits in 2010 and 2011 have failed to translate into new job; instead, companies increased spending on equipment and software by 26 percent since 2009.

With increasingly sophisticated software able to perform tasks once thought to be distinctively human -- such as understanding speech, translating from one language to another and recognizing patterns --  automation is rapidly eliminating jobs in call centers, marketing and sales.  As the capabilities of computers increase, almost no industry will be immune.  With Google's robotic cars now logging thousands of miles each year unassisted, the days of that quintessentially human occupation of truck driving may be numbered.

In short, virtually any "process" job that involves repetitive steps is likely to disappear eventually.  The key to success in this new environment, the authors argue, is to focus on jobs that require intuition and creativity — traits that computers perform poorly.  Whether the US education system is up for preparing students to tap those necessary skills is a topic for another blog entry . . . .