Wednesday, March 25, 2015

November 6, 2014, JobFirstNYC's "A Look at the Transportation and Logistics Sector" Event

Transportation – we rarely think about it, until it isn't there.  But the ability to move products and people quickly and efficiently is the lifeblood of any city.  Currently, nearly 140,000 Transportation & Logistics sector workers enable New York City the nation's largest transportation hub to host a population of 8.5 million residents and 55 million annual visitors.

Transportation & Logistics covers a wide range of industries air travel and freight, water activity and marine, truck, private sector and ground passenger, scenic and sightseeing, transportation support activities, and warehousing and storage. Locally, these industries offer above average pay and security, are difficult to outsource or automate, and feature an aging workforce.  For young adults, especially those with limited educational credentials, opportunities abound.

On November 6, 2014, JobsFirstNYC convened nearly 100 workforce development professionals at The Conference Center in midtown Manhattan to learn more about transportation and logistics employment in New York City, with an emphasis on strategies to move young adults into growing occupations.

The session opened with welcoming remarks from Lou Miceli and Marjorie Parker of JobsFirstNYC, who described the challenges facing the quarter million young New Yorkers neither working nor in school.   

Lesley Hirsch, Director of the NYC Labor Market Information Service (LMIS) at the CUNY Center for Urban Research (and author of Employment in New York City's Transportation Sector) shared sector statistics on the number of transportation / logistics establishments by borough, average annual employment, and average wages in NYC. Trends within the sector include:

  • The sector is largely concentrated in Queens and Brooklyn (airports, warehouses) 
  • The sector is aging and predominantly male
  • At present, employment growth projections are positive only for air transit
  • Marine transportation is a small but growing subsector, which holds some exciting career opportunities
  • Transit work can provide robust rewards in terms of wages, job stability, union protections and benefits, and ongoing professional development opportunities; however, training providers need to figure out how to effectively convey these values to young people
  • Opportunities exist to make better transportation sector connections with the New York City government but have not yet been well exploited

L-R: David Fischer, Andrew Genn, Kelly Dougherty, Jessica Cracchiolo

David Fischer of JobsFirstNYC then moderated a panel discussion on citywide transportation initiatives.  Representatives of three major transportation-related agencies Andrew Genn, Senior Vice President for Ports & Transportation, NYC Economic Development Corporation; Kelly Dougherty, Executive Director of the Workforce Development Division, NYC Department of Small Business Services; and Jessica Cracchiolo, Director of Grant Associates' Workforce1 Industrial & Transportation Center shared detailed insights into:
  • specific areas of opportunity for low skilled young adults
  • pathways for career mobility in the sector
  • long-term trends that make it likely the sector will continue to grow 
  • the process for identifying appropriate employers and candidates
  • critical needs for future exploration / growth of youth involvement in the sector

Lauren Rasnake, Sheila Maguire, Peter Fernandez, Lowell Herschberger, and Lesley Hirsch 
discuss sectoral collaborations between employers and workforce organizations

Concluding the session, Lauren Rasnake of Brooklyn-based online marketplace UncommonGoods facilitated a discussion on the benefits and challenges of sector-based partnerships.  Panelists Sheila Maguire, consultant with JobsFirstNYC's Young Adult Sectoral Employment Project (YASEP), Lesley Hirsch of the NYC LMIS, Lowell Herschberger, Director of Career and Education Programs at Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation, and Peter Fernandez, Vice President of Sales & Marketing at Citipak Delivery Systems, Inc, shared first-hand experiences with employer-provider partnerships, including:
  • How JobFirstNYC's Young Adult Sectoral Employment Project (YASEP) is helping workforce organizations collaborate together and with employers
  • Examples of how sectoral partnerships can foster a pipeline of candidates, employees and career pathways that benefit both business and young adults
  • Tips and challenges for creating successful long-term public / private partnerships

Reaction among event attendees was overwhelmingly positive, as reflected in comments like "Great job session. Learned a lot!" "It was all helpful, very well organized and with useful handouts!" and "Very well done. Worthwhile!" They particularly appreciated the in-depth statistics, the presence of employers and employer intermediaries in the room, and the first-hand experiences in building sectoral partnerships.  In fact, the most frequent comment was that such important topics demanded more time.

Clearly a real thirst exists within New York City's workforce development community for these types of learning and networking opportunities that JobFirstNYC is proud to sponsor.

Click here to download detailed materials from this session.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

March 5, 2015, JobFirstNYC's "A Look at the IT Sector" event

Panelists discuss pathways into the IT sector for low-income young adults at 
JobFirstNYC's "A Look at the IT Sector" event on March 5, 2015.

Many thanks to our panelists, from left to right:
  • Katy Belot, Partnership for New York City
  • Angie Kamath, Per Scholas
  • Jan'Ann Lieberman, Time Warner Cable
  • Jose Velez, Swiss Post Solutions
  • Aliya Merali, Coalition for Queens (C4Q)
  • Miquela Craytor, NYC Economic Development Corporation

In March 2015, the Obama Administration announced the $100 million TechHire initiative to promote collaborations between employers, training institutions and local governments that target low-skilled workers who don't have easy access to training. New York City is one of 20 regions that will receive funding under the initiative.

At the national level, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) intensive industries – ranging from Aerospace Products & Parts to Wireless Telecommunications – added almost 1 million jobs between 2010-2013, or nearly 18 percent of the nation’s total job growth, growing nearly twice as fast as in the rest of the economy.  In New York City, jobs in tech companies offer salaries that average $85,619.  For young adults, STEM careers provide a pathway to the middle class.  This is especially important for those with limited academic achievements, as technology firms like Google increasingly recognize that skills and innate qualities, rather than prestigious degrees, are the most important predictors of success on the job.

On March 5, 2015, JobsFirstNYC gathered some 70 workforce development leadership, management / supervisory staff, funders and employers at The Conference Center in midtown Manhattan to discuss trends in the IT labor market, and highlight models of training and placement that enable young people to move into STEM occupations.

The session began with opening remarks from JobsFirstNYC Board Member Greg Hambric of Modell’s Sporting Goods; Marjorie Parker, Deputy Executive Director of JobsFirstNYC; Gayle Jennings-O’Byrne, Vice President of JPMorgan Chase Global Philanthropy; and Kristen Titus, the Founding Director of New York City’s Tech Talent Pipeline.  Each emphasized the importance of training young adults and connecting them to employers in a timely manner to fill the growing number of tech-related jobs.  

Lesley Hirsch, Director of the NYC Labor Market Information Service at CUNY's Center for Urban Research provided statistics, trends, and an overall look of the IT sector and IT sector occupations in NYC.  The city is currently experiencing significant growth in demand for app developers, network architects, web developers, and cyber security specialists, although the number of jobs for database administrators and computer support specialists remains flat.

Representatives from employers and CBOs then joined together for a panel discussion on the NYC IT sector and IT occupations, facilitated by Katy Belot of Partnership for New York City.   The panelists each described the work of their organization / company, including best practices, challenges, sector needs, and critical skills that job seekers should possess.

  • Angie Kamath, Executive Director of Per Scholas described its YouthBridge IT Prep program. Per Scholas has partnered with FEGS to provide the literacy and numeracy enrichment that participants need in order to undertake rigorous IT training.  Per Scholas also works closely with employers such as Time Warner Cable and Bloomberg to integrate the hard and soft skills that employers demand. 
  • Aliya Merali, Director of Learning & Access for Coalition for Queens (C4Q) described her organization's nine month Access Code training for entry level IT sector occupations. The program provides hard and soft skills training, and prepares participants for both traditional workplaces and start-up environments.
  • Jan’Ann Liberman, Director of Talent Acquisition for Time Warner Cable explained how many of the occupations and jobs are technical, but soft skills are required to carry out the customer service arm of the company to its clients. Strong soft skills are necessary also to advance within Time Warner Cable’s own talent pipeline program that provides training for advancement within the company. With the relationship that it has built with working with hiring participants from Per Scholas, Time Warner Cable has been able to improve its utilization of CBOs as a resource for its talent development.
  • Jose Velez, Director of Information Technology & Corporate Trainer, North America for Swiss Post Solutions echoed the importance of strong and sustainable CBO-employer relationships and soft skills training. Swiss Post Solutions has invested a significant amount of time in identifying and developing 30 partners and the redesign of its internship development program to address soft skills development.  Swiss Post Solutions has seen more gains in retention and engagement amongst participants and employers as a result of the program redesign.
  • Miquela Craytor, Director of NYC Industrial and Income Mobility Initiatives for NYC Economic Development Corporation provided an overview of IT-related initiatives at the New York City Economic Development Corporation (EDC). From its program on micro-task jobs, the EDC learned that program participants wanted to gain certifications such as training in Microsoft Office suite products rather than specific programming content. Outcomes of this program highlighted to the EDC on the need to readjust its program and curriculum and also the clarification and marketing of program goals and expectations for both the program staff and participants.
The speakers and panelists agreed on four key takeaways from the day's proceedings for workforce organizations:
  1. Understand labor market data and differentiate between the IT sector and IT occupations that can be found in other sectors.
  2. Soft skills training is critical even for technical positions, often serving as the critical differentiator for job applicants.
  3. Develop and maintain strong employer engagement to create a pipeline to good jobs.
  4. Be open, creative, and innovative

The reaction of attendees was universally positive.  "Thanks for a fantastic session about tech sector youth employment! Lots to think about," one wrote. Added another, "This event was fantastic!"

Click here for a full proceedings summary and a copy of the NYCLMIS presentation.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Youth News Roundup: Public School Edition

Here's our roundup of recent news articles and reports on the challenges young people face in the educational system:

Success Stories from around the US

A Brooklyn School’s Curriculum Includes Ambition: "For Kareem, Mott Hall Bridges Academy is more than just a place to learn algebra and history. . . . The school prides itself on its “holistic approach” to educating children for whom nothing can be taken for granted. Staff members lead peer groups on Monday afternoons to keep tabs on whether students have problems at school or at home, and try to teach coping strategies. In September, they checked students’ backpacks to make sure they were keeping up in class. And in a neighborhood where many people have never even traveled into Manhattan, they give children a new aspiration: to experience life beyond Brownsville." New York Times

Detroit Public Schools taking a new approach with trade schools: "This at a time when Detroit has the nation's highest youth unemployment rate - 57 percent - meaning the city's teens and young adults have less work experience than kids in other cities - a key indicator for future employability. . . . Detroit Public Schools is attempting to redesign its high school career and technical programs into workforce development centers for youth and adults across the region. The redesign aims to help youth train for skilled work ‒ and save the trade schools from closure (about two-thirds of DPS schools have closed since 2005 due to declining enrollment)." MLive

These Schools Made A Commitment To Black Boys And Are Now Seeing Big Results: "The Manhood Development Program is part of the [Oakland Unified School District's] Office of African American Male Achievement, which was created in 2010 and was the first of its kind nationally. The program brings together African-American male students and teachers for classes designed to build leadership and foster brotherhood. High- and low-achieving students are accepted to MDP, as are mid-level pupils. The lessons mix culturally relevant history and literature with identity development and college preparation." Huffington Post

ICAN addressing homeless youth education in Chandler: "It is shocking to learn that 1,285,182 students enrolled in public schools across our country were homeless during the 2012-13 school year. That is a staggering 8 percent increase from the year before. Of those, 75,940 were classified as unaccompanied youths, meaning they were living completely on their own. Is there any wonder why young people experiencing homelessness are 87 percent more likely to stop going to school?" AZCentral

Promising Practices

9 reasons Finland's schools are so much better than America's: If there's any consensus on education in the US, it could be this: other countries are doing it better. And in the doing-education-better sweepstakes, Finland has long been the cold and snowy standout. . . what can the United States learn from Finland?" Vox 

Why More Schools Are Letting Their Students Sleep In: "Adolescents have been steadily logging fewer hours of sleep over the last 20 years, according to a recent study. . . . Some experts note that part of the push for later school start times is about acknowledging the way young people's bodies work. . . . This inherent desire to sleep, Winter said, doesn't just make kids and teens drag in the early morning -- it also limits their ability to learn during morning classes and increases the risk of car accidents on their way to school." Huffington Post

Closing The Racial Achievement Gap Could Expand America's Economy By Trillions: "In 2012, the study [by the Center for American Progress] notes, white students averaged a score of 506 on the PISA math exam, while black students received an average of 421. Hispanic students averaged a 455 score on the exam. . . . Study authors Robert Lynch and Patrick Oakford found that if this gap between white students and students of color were closed, the U.S. would see $2.3 trillion in economic growth by 2050." Huffington Post

Systematic Challenges to Improving Outcomes

How teacher hiring puts black and Hispanic kids at a disadvantage: "A Los Angeles judge outraged educators around the country this summer when he threw out California's law granting schoolteachers tenure, ruling that it kept incompetent teachers in classrooms with minority students. What teachers saw as a simple reward for difficult and important work had been declared, in essence, a law with disturbing racial impacts. Now, a new working paper suggests that schools in Los Angeles often wind up putting children of color in classrooms with teachers who have less skill and experience than those who teach their white classmates." Washington Post

A tremendous number of school children in America still live in poverty: "Earlier this fall, the Census Bureau reported that child poverty in America is finally declining for the first time in more than a decade. But while the national trend is ticking down, in many parts of the country — particularly the South — poverty rates for kids are still above the national average and higher than they were before the start of the recession.  According to new Census data out today, poverty rates for school-aged children in 2013 were still above their 2007 levels in nearly a third of all counties . . ." Washington Post

How our schools fail poor kids before they even arrive for class: "One of the simplest ways to put poor kids in a position to succeed is to make sure they eat breakfast. . . . A 2013 study, for instance, linked breakfast consumption among children to higher IQs later in life. A group of researchers in 1989 found that students who ate breakfast tended to perform better on standardized tests. Eating breakfast is especially critical for children from low-income families since they are already disadvantaged in so many other ways. . . . The School Breakfast Program still isn't feeding nearly as many poor students as it should be. In fact, the program is falling short by at least ten million students, if not more, according to a new study by the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC)." Washington Post

Why schools are failing our boys: "Statistically speaking, boys now lag behind girls on every single academic measure; they also get in trouble and drop out of school much more frequently than girls. There are fewer boys in college than girls, and far more lost 20-something boys than 20-something girls. Our boys are not the ones who are failing; we are the ones failing our boys." Washington Post

Overuse of Punishment in Schools

Addressing the School to Prison Pipeline: Why Education Is the Liberation of Black Youth: "Education is the earliest form of state violence Black youth endure. The Department of Defense's 1033 program equips school police with all the grenade launchers and tanks they can haul while our students scramble to find guidance counselors and books. The federal government has denounced the school to prison pipeline while continuing to fund it." Huffington Post

To Increase Test Scores, Schools Should Stop Suspending Students, Says Study: "A recent report published in December’s issue of the American Sociological Review finds that students in schools with high rates of suspensions suffer academically -– even if they are not being suspended themselves. The report . . . concludes that high rates of suspensions can have a negative impact on the test scores of students who have not been suspended, and that schools may be better served by only suspending students in moderation." Huffington Post

Lawsuit Alleges Officers In Birmingham Schools Sprayed Hundreds Of Students With Chemicals: "According to Southern Poverty Law Center attorney Ebony Howard, about 300 high school students have been sprayed with harmful chemicals since 2006. Howard told The Huffington Post at least 1,250 students were likely indirectly exposed to these chemicals over the years. 'The case is obviously about kids and the rights of kids to go to school without fear of being sprayed by mace or pepper spray.'" Huffington Post

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Youth News Roundup: College Edition

Here's our roundup of recent news articles and reports on the benefits -- and challenges -- of higher education for young adults.

Creating Opportunities for Young Adults

The 2nd Act in His Unlikely Pursuit: A College Degree: "According to data from the most recent census survey, there are 871 people in the Queensbridge development 25 to 34 years old — and of those, only 8.5 percent have bachelor’s degrees. During his junior year at Long Island City High School, Mr. Lawson was referred to Urban Upbound, a nonprofit organization that brings economic and educational resources to public housing neighborhoods. The group offered career guidance, budget counseling, tax preparation and, most importantly to him, SAT tutors." New York Times

The Roots of Obama’s Ambitious College Plan: "The plan would allow anyone admitted to a community college to attend without paying tuition, so long as they enroll in a program meeting certain basic requirements and they remain on track to graduate in three years. Its broad goals are clear: to extend the amount of mass education available, for free, beyond high school — from K-through-12, to K-through-college." New York Times

How Google and Coursera may upend the traditional college degree: "Recently, the online education firm Coursera announced a new arrangement with Google, Instagram and other tech firms to launch what some are calling “microdegrees” – a set of online courses plus a hands-on capstone project designed in conjunction with top universities and leading high-tech firms. . . . [T]he Coursera announcement could be an important step in a radical shakeup of higher education. That shakeup holds the prospect of far less expensive and more customized degrees that are more in tune with the recruiting needs of major employers." Brookings Institute

Engaging Students for Success: Cengage Learning, Maricopa Corporate College, and Smart Horizons Career Online Education Participate in White House College Opportunity Summit: "The partnership was created to identify comprehensive solutions in response to the crisis of disconnected youth in Phoenix – where more than 250,000 students are impacted. The Greater Phoenix Collective Impact was designed to increase high school graduates' college and career readiness by providing 18-to-24-year-old students with an entry-level workforce certificate and accredited high school diploma through Career Online High School. This innovative partnership will serve as a model to advance the goals of the College Opportunity Day, and ensures dialogue and best practice among a broad constituency." Sys-Con Media

The High Cost of Higher Education

3 Ways to Lower Crazy High College Costs: "First, would-be students must be able to obtain clear information about costs and quality, so that they can locate the best value for money. . . . Second, we need comparison information that recognizes “quality” means different things to different people. . . . The third essential step is to open up the cozy world of higher education to more competition from institutions with new business models." Brookings Institute

A Clearer Approach to College Costs: When it comes to selecting a college, "[t]here is the sticker price and then there are actual prices, net of the best financial aid that students and their parents can negotiate. But many students and families do not realize they can bargain. And when they do, they have little or no idea of what they realistically may gain." Brookings Institute

College Debt Is Crippling Black Graduates' Ability To Gain Wealth: "More than 40 percent of African-American families had student loan debt in 2013, compared with 28 percent of white families, according to an analysis by the Urban Institute, a Washington-based think tank studying issues of education, health policy and low-income families. African-American families also typically take on more student debt -- $10,295 on average, compared with an average of $8,020 for white families." Huffington Post

Chart of the Day: Here's Who's Defaulting on Student Debt: "If you're likely to complete college, student loans are a good investment. But if you're right on the cusp, you should think twice. There's a good chance you'll just end up dropping out and you'll end up with a pile of student loans to pay back. If you're in that position, think hard about attending a community college and keeping student loans to the minimum you can manage." Mother Jones

The Challeges of Higher Education

The college trap that keeps people poor: "Nine out of 10 children who grow up at the bottom of the income ladder but then graduate from college move up to a higher economic bracket as adults, according to the Pew Charitable Trusts. Less than half of kids without a degree make the same leap.
That creates a paradox: Being poor is a big impediment to getting the education that lifts you out of poverty." Washington Post

For Recent Black College Graduates, a Tougher Road to Employment: "Among recent [college] graduates ages 22 to 27, the jobless rate for blacks last year was 12.4 percent versus 4.9 percent for whites, said John Schmitt, a senior economist at the Center for Economic and Policy Research. While there has always been a gap between black and white college grads, this 7.5 percentage point difference was far greater than before the recession burned through the economy." New York Times

Why so many students are spending six years getting a college degree: "Taking longer to graduate isn't cheap. It costs $15,933 more in tuition, fees and room and board for every extra year at a public two-year college and $22,826 for every added year at a public four-year college, according to a new report by the nonprofit Complete College America." Washington Post

How dozens of failing for-profit schools found an unlikely savior -- a debt collector: "[T]he for-profit college giant Corinthian Colleges has spent much of the year in a tailspin. Investigations found the school used deceptive marketing to lure students into loans they had no hope of paying back, and the federal government suspended the schools’ access to federal aid. . . . The deal will create the country’s largest nonprofit system of career education and is the biggest sign yet that the beleaguered for-profit college industry, which currently has 2 million students enrolled, is trying to reinvent itself." Washington Post

Some Owners of Private Colleges Turn a Tidy Profit by Going Nonprofit: "The shift means more restrictions on moneymaking ventures and loss of ownership. But nonprofit schools — defined as providing a public benefit — do not have to pay taxes, are eligible for certain state grants and can receive more money from the federal student loan program. Consumer advocates and legal experts warn that some institutions might be shifting primarily to avoid stepped-up government scrutiny and regulation." New York Times