Friday, April 25, 2014

NYC Jobless Youth Pay High Price for Flawed State Project

Dear Colleagues, 
Two years ago, at the urging of many workforce organizations in New York City who raised serious concerns, JobsFirstNYC began research on the effectiveness of the National Work Readiness Credential (NWRC), a key component of New York State's employment and training programs for out-of-school, out-of-work young adults.

Developed by a coalition of five states and Washington D.C, the NWRC was intended to show employers that a jobseeker possessed the basic skills required by any entry-level position. However, since the NWRC's launch in 2006, New York State has been isolated in its promotion of the credential. 

Released today, JobsFirstNYC's research report The National Work Readiness Credential: Who Pays the Price? contains the following key findings

 The NWRC is not a valid measurement of work readiness for young adults  in New York City. 
  • The credential was neither designed nor intended for young adults in New York City to use.  
 Few young adults in New York City pass the NWRC, and the test has an 
 adverse impact on black young adults. 
  • Only 317 young adults passed the test to obtain the NWRC in 2011, out of an estimated 12,000 young adults who prepared for it. 
  • Black test takers failed the test at much higher rates than white test takers.  
 The NWRC has no value to employers or to young job applicants. 
  • Employers in New York City do not use the NWRC to distinguish candidates for job openings. 
  • The hiring rate for individuals with the National Work Readiness Credential was virtually identical to the hiring rate of those without it. 
 Supporting the NWRC diverts resources from effective approaches that  enable young adults to compete in the labor market. 
  • Existing State programs do not help them to obtain employer-recognized credentials that can qualify them for well-paying jobs. 

Despite extensive attempts to engage the State on this issue, they have released no information to show NWRC preparation enhances employment prospects for young adults. 

There is no rational basis for young adults to spend eight weeks preparing for the NWRC exam and three hours taking it. It is a futile and costly misadventure and, at a time of shrinking workforce development budgets and high young adult unemployment, it is an expense that New York cannot afford. But it is New York's young adults who pay the highest price for this ill-conceived initiative. 

We have asked the State to drop the NWRC as a requirement for youth employment programs. We will keep you informed of our advocacy efforts to increase attention and resources for training programs that actually work for young adults. 


Louis Miceli
Executive Director