Tuesday, December 20, 2016

What's Next? A Post-Election Discussion: Summary & Highlights

Last Friday, December 16, 2016, JobsFirstNYC held "What's Next: A Post-Election Discussion", a forum for national policy experts, public and nonprofit leadership, philantropy, and employers to discuss the economic challenges and opportunities the new presidential administration and congress could present for young adults.

The four goals of the event were to: mobilize local, state, and national leaders working toward the economic prosperity of young adults; educate attendees about the early policy and budget recommendations proposed by the president elect and congress, and how these proposals could affect young adults and the organizations that serve them; inform participants about what local and national organizations are doing to respond to and prepare for the next administration’s policy proposals; and prepare participants with resources, strategies, and a network of allies to best support young adults under the new administration.

The discussion featured national policy experts from all around the country who shared their expertise and knowledge around youth policy strategies under the new administration, as well as important projections and recommendations around labor, the economy, and jobs. These experts include: Kisha Bird, Director, Youth Policy at Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP); Angela Hanks, Associate Director, Workforce Development Policy at Center for American Progress. Melinda Mack, Executive Director at New York Association of Training and Employment Professionals (NYATEP); Andrew Moore, Director, Youth and Young Adult Connections Institute for Youth, Education, and Families at National League of Cities; and Anand Vimalassery, Senior Director of Policy at National Job Corps Association.

Important themes that emerged from the event were: coalition building and remaining steadfast with the many legislative and funding efforts advocates and field leaders are pushing to increase economic opportunities young people, including those around training opportunities such as apprenticeships; collecting and lifting up data and information on practices that are helping young adults gain education and employment; affecting meaningful political change on the local and state levels; and supporting young adult-led movements within our communities, our cities, and our country.

Check out a Storify of social media activity from the event below:

This event was the first of many upcoming JobsFirstNYC policy and advocacy initiatives related to our post-election commitment to young adults under the new administration. We will continue working closely with our local, state and national partners to elevate the voices and the needs of young people as we all work to hold ourselves and our elected officials accountable.

Resources from the event include:
Agenda and Speaker Bios
CLASP's Campaign for Youth Road Map
NLC's Reengagement: Bringing Students Back to America's Schools
NYATEP's Advocacy Academy

Upcoming opportunities to continue to discuss young adult workforce policy strategies under the new administration include the New York City Employment and Training Coalition's upcoming Policy Forum in January and National Skills Coalition's upcoming Skills Summit in February.

Friday, December 16, 2016

What's Next? A Post-Election Event Agenda

Mobilize, Educate, Inform, Prepare

December 16, 2016 | 9:00-11:30AM | The Conference Center

9:00am         Welcome and Opening Remarks                                      

Marjorie Parker
Deputy Executive Director, JobsFirstNYC
          9:20am         Young Adult Policy Strategies Under the New Administration

Kisha Bird
Director, Youth Policy, Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP)

Melinda Mack
Executive Director, NY Association of Training and Employment Professionals (NYATEP)

Andrew Moore
Director, Youth and Young Adult Connections Institute for Youth, Education, and Families, National League of Cities

Anand Vimalassery
Senior Director of Policy, National Job Corps Association

          Moderator: Marjorie Parker, Deputy Executive Director, JobsFirstNYC

10:25am       Labor, the Economy, and Jobs

Angela Hanks
Associate Director, Workforce Development Policy,
Center for American Progress        

A Conversation with Lou Miceli, Executive Director, JobsFirstNYC

11:15am       Closing Remarks and Discussion for Next Steps

Lou Miceli
Executive Director, JobsFirstNYC

Panelist Bios

Kisha Bird, Center for Law and Social Policy
Kisha Bird is director of youth policy at CLASP and project director for the Campaign for Youth (CFY), a national coalition chaired by CLASP.  Ms. Bird works to expand access to education, employment, and support services for disconnected and other vulnerable youth.  She is an expert in federal policy for vulnerable youth and helps ensure national legislation (such as the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act) is fully implemented in communities nationwide and has maximum impact for poor and low-income youth and youth of color. Ms. Bird holds a Master of Social Service and Master of Law and Social Policy from Bryn Mawr College Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research.  She also earned a Bachelor's Degree in sociology from Spelman College. @CLASPKisha

Angela Hanks, Center for American Progress
Angela Hanks is the Associate Director for Workforce Development Policy on the Economic Policy team at the Center for American Progress. Her work focuses on developing and promoting effective workforce development policies that raise the skills, wages, and employment opportunities of workers. Her work has been featured in U.S. News and World Report, Newsweek, and MarketWatch, among others.  Prior to American Progress, Angela was Senior Federal Policy Analyst at the National Skills Coalition. Angela previously worked as a Legislative Assistant to Congressman Elijah E. Cummings and a Counsel on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.  Angela holds a J.D. from the University of Maryland, Francis King Carey School of Law and a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the George Washington University. @AngelaHanks

Melinda Mack, New York Association of Training and Employment Professionals
Melinda Mack is the Executive Director of the New York Association of Training and Employment Professionals (NYATEP), a nationally recognized, leading nonprofit membership association in the field of workforce development. NYATEP convenes, educates, and develops workforce boards, business organizations, education and training providers, economic development entities, organized labor, elected officials, and government agencies to sustain and enhance education, training, and employment for all New Yorkers. In her previous role, Ms. Mack was selected to serve as the founding Director of Graduate NYC!, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates. Ms. Mack earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from SUNY Buffalo, a Master of Regional Planning degree and a Master of Public Administration degree from SUNY Albany. @NYATEP

Andrew Moore, National League of Cities
Andrew O. Moore serves as Director, Youth and Young Adult Connections at the National League of Cities’ Institute for Youth, Education and Families. The YEF Institute is a foundation-funded “action tank” that helps municipal leaders take action on behalf of the children, youth, and families in their communities.  Moore’s current roles include: supporting a growing national network of Dropout Reengagement Centers and spreading practical lessons learned through the new book, Reengagement: Bringing Students Back to America’s Schools; launching a new initiative to enlist city governments in the growing movement to connect children to nature; and leading an exploration of municipal leadership roles in juvenile justice system reform. He holds degrees from Princeton University and the University of Pennsylvania’s Fels Institute of Government. @AndrewOMoore

Anand Vimalassery, National Job Corps Association
Anand Vimalassery is a national consultant on economic mobility, focusing on opportunity youth. He also serves as the policy director for the National Job Corps Association, a role he has held for over ten years. He has previously worked for the Office of Policy Development and Research at the U.S. Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration as well as the Center for the Social Organization of Schools.  Mr. Vimalassery holds a Master’s in Public Policy from The Johns Hopkins University. @Anand_NJCA

Monday, November 28, 2016

JobsFirstNYC Testifies at the November New York City Council Hearing on Disconnected Youth

Youth Services Committee Hearing on Oversight - Disconnected Youth: Out of Work and Out of School
Int. No. 708 and Int. No. 709

Good afternoon, Chairman Eugene and other distinguished Council Members of the Youth Services Committee. My name is Marjorie Parker and I am the Deputy Executive Director at JobsFirstNYC, a neutral intermediary focused on the issues of young adults who are out of school and out of work or underemployed.

For several years, JobsFirstNYC has been documenting the number of out-of-school, out-of-work young adults in New York City. Today, this includes more than 184,000 New Yorkers between 16 and 24 years old. Our work as an intermediary includes convening and connecting young adults, service providers, policymakers, public officials, philanthropy leaders, businesses, and advocates to improve outcomes for young adults and develop strategies to sustain our city’s future workforce.

As an organization committed to collecting data, creating and lifting up effective practices, and convening cross-system actors to benefit out-of-school, out-of-work young adults, those who serve them, and those who employ them, we support Intro 708 for the creation of a “disconnected” youth task force. We also recommend the development of a standing Advisory Council to advise the Mayor and City Council on issues surrounding this population indefinitely.

In addition to the stakeholders outlined in the bill’s Introduction, we recommend the inclusion of the following stakeholders:
·         Policy-focused intermediaries like JobsFirstNYC, United Neighborhood Houses, and Community Service Society; and, youth workforce private funders who have experience collaborating with providers to advance practice and policy for this population.
·         Representatives from CUNY and the business communities, as including their voices is integral in any effort designed to propel young people towards sustainable economic prosperity.
·         Young adults, community-based organizations, local and national systems-level actors both separately and together to offer feedback on the effectiveness of existing public programs for this population and to provide recommendations to guide the content and scale of any future investments.

We support the creation of any workforce development division dedicated to connecting out-of-school, out-of-work young adults to training and employment opportunities if it is targeted at reaching those young jobseekers who are not currently being served under OSY, as such, we conditionally support Introduction 709. Recent NY State Department of Labor data shows that DYCD WIOA contracts for Out of School Youth (OSY) programs have better education, employment, and certification outcomes than those achieved by the State overall, so clearly the agency is doing great work here with the population it serves. However, we think any effort to serve larger number of OSYs cannot be dismissed.

As such, we present the following conditional questions and recommendations:
·         How would this new division be different from what Department of Small Business Services (SBS) does through its new young adult programming in the Workforce1 Centers?

We urge the city to conduct a thorough review of the wide range of existing centers designed to serve young adults and other vulnerable youth populations, as options for serving more young adults who are out of school and out of work. The current centers include, but are not limited to:
o   the new SBS/HRA/DOE West Farms Workforce1 Career Center for young adults;
o   the Neighborhood Opportunity Network (NeON) Centers;
o   the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office’s CUNY proposals to develop Youth Opportunity Hubs in Harlem, Washington Heights, and the Lower Eastside.
While we were among the first advocating for these centers in our 2014 policy paper, the exponential growth of these mechanisms requires the city to evaluate and coordinate them to create efficiencies so that those with the highest needs are being served.

Furthermore, what system-level impact would result from the development of this new division – would it increase or decrease collaboration among SBS, DYCD, CYE, DOE, CUNY, and the Office of Workforce Development? The department has historically catered to older, higher-functioning, “work-ready” jobseekers. We recommend that SBS could best serve the jobseekers who still lack services through bilateral agency agreements, including some of the following examples:
·         Co-enrolling students in both OSY and SBS programs, so those seeking only employment have direct access to SBS services; Uncouple penalties related to co-enrollment.
·         Working with the Office of Adult and Continuing Education to serve more 21- to -24-year-olds, increasing their access to employment; and,
·         Partnering with workforce unit in CUNY to direct qualified college students to employment opportunities through the SBS mechanisms.

We recommend that the Council consider these additional actions that can reach more out of school, out of work young adults.
·         Explore expanding the services of Pathways to Graduation/District 79 to serve young people up to age 24; This could lead to greater amount of OSOW gaining access to education and employment services
·         Enhance and expand resources to support current existing OSY programs to serve more young adults and provide additional post-program supports.

We believe that the creation of any new division should be under the purview of the department or departments with the experience and knowledge necessary to support out-of-school, out-of-work young adults at all levels who need a variety of training, education, bridging, and placement options. We also believe that any new division should target its resources towards the vast number of out-of-school, out-of-work young adults who are not currently receiving support through the array of other programs already available through DYCD and SBS.

Thank you,

Marjorie Parker

Deputy Executive Director, JobsFirstNYC

Friday, November 18, 2016

A Statement from JobsFirstNYC on the 2016 Presidential Election

Dear Colleagues,

In the days that have followed last week's historic election, JobsFirstNYC has spoken with the field about what this outcome means for the national workforce and training system, and what opportunities and challenges a Trump presidency presents. In one of our most intense and polarizing elections, we are at a highly uncertain crossroads.

Creating and sustaining a qualified national workforce that effectively meets both supply and demand is not a Democrat or Republican issue, it is one that affects every citizen. While federal spending for workforce has been on a steep disinvestment curve for many years, this new administration will present an important opportunity to examine the question of our national work-preparedness and competitiveness. Voter results in this election also demonstrate that many Americans believe that the workforce system is simply unable to propel them on a path to economic security. One major element in ensuring the workforce system's effectiveness is the thoughtful inclusion of employers, which is also central to the mission of JobsFirstNYC and organizations like ours.

Early thinking from our national policy colleagues suggests that the new Administration's likely focus will be on expanding the quantity and quality of middle-skills jobs, implementing a broad economic stimulus with refinements in trade policy and business deregulation, and addressing our country's infrastructure. These are all issues around which our field can and should develop a unified policy and action agenda. Creating more intentional training opportunities for domestic manufacturing and infrastructure-related jobs is a specific example of where our priorities could potentially align with that of the new administration.

However, one thing must be made and kept explicit in our movement forward: there can be no space in the national workforce and training agenda for ableism, bigotry, homophobia, sexism, and xenophobia, all of which were keenly manifested in the rhetoric of this election cycle throughout the past several months.

JobsFirstNYC will never have a neutral position on these issues, because of the young people we are called by our mission to serve. Many young Americans are very concerned about the outcome and consequences of this election. For young immigrants, young men and women of color, young people impacted by the juvenile and criminal justice systems, young people who identify as LGBTQ, and young people with hidden or visible disabilities, we must affirm our commitment to their equitable treatment in our society through both our words and our actions.

In the weeks and months ahead, it is critical to have a more inclusive strategic discussion among our national leadership about how to ensure that many of our recent gains notably those focused on equity and social and economic justice, are preserved so that all young Americans can fully engage in our country's future.

While we need to carefully reflect on our political circumstances and how the world is responding to them, we also need to forge ahead with an aligned advocacy effort in order to build an economy that is inclusive of all of America's young people.
Central to this effort will be a focus on supporting and investing in young leaders as change ambassadors and systems advocates, and you will be hearing more from us in the coming months about how we will put that plan into action.
In the weeks and months ahead, we have much to do and we need your support:

1. Stay engaged in the discussion. We need a full range of conversations about policies and practices that can ensure all Americans have a place in our country's economic future. Join us to be an active part of the conversation that involves open, constructive debate.

2. Join in the effort. Volunteer your time and/or donate resources to any cause that will advance opportunities for young people. Support businesses and institutions committed to affording such opportunities.

3. Plan and organize. As we build on our advocacy for effective and inclusive economic policies, join us and other organizations at the forefront of this effort to ensure that such policies are a core focus of the new administration.
We welcome and need your input and involvement as we collectively proceed, and we re-affirm our absolute commitment and resolve to ensure that every young person has the opportunity to fully participate in and benefit from the economic life of our great City and our great country.


The JobsFirstNYC Board of Directors and Staff

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Strengthening Employer Engagement Practices in the Youth Employment Field

Strengthening Employer Engagement Practices in the Youth Employment Field
by: Lou Miceli

There has been much recent discussion in our field around “cracking the code” of effective employer engagement. Employers have many options for filling positions, and workforce organizations often struggle to build the relationships that lead even to semi-regular hiring, much less continual placement of low-income job seekers. Making progress in this work can be slow-going for workforce organizations and programs, as it is often a challenging feat to connect to employers who best understand the needs of the people we serve, have a clear institutional value-proposition in terms of services they can provide to meet those needs, and are willing to make a commitment to support and prepare job seekers to be best matched to available employment opportunities. It can even be more challenging to do this consistently over time and with the quality necessary to benefit both employers and providers.

Challenges differ but are no less significant when we move beyond transactional job placements to look at the system-wide framework in which workforce development operates. These systemic challenges include: achieving scale to truly meet the needs of job seekers and employers, operating within the shifting political constraints, and fostering the relatively limited capacity of effective employer intermediaries that can help align workforce, training, and talent needs.

Throughout my career, I have held many roles in workforce and youth development. Some of my earliest were that of a job developer and a supervisor of job development, and then later as a trainer and mentor to many job developers. It is with those experiences in mind that I approach both the systemic and transactional elements of employer relationship-building in my own work at JobsFirstNYC, and which are central to our work overall in the workforce field.

Over the years, the training pendulum has swung from supply-side to demand-side focus on employer needs. This transition has been necessary and right. In an ideal world, individual organizations would collaborate to share resources and expertise to better meet the needs of bigger employers, thereby benefitting everyone involved. However, I still experience our work in the field as less coordinated and strategic than it should be, partially because fully-integrated employer engagement mechanisms are often complex, dynamic, and difficult to construct, especially in larger cities like New York where institutional individualism and political constraints are often well entrenched.

Employer engagement at the organizational or systems level is fundamentally about relationship-building and trust, often best taught through modeling and direct experience paired with training and effective practice exchange. This iterative process requires time. Organizations often make less-than-linear progress, and our field should build room to experiment with innovative approaches to doing this thoughtfully and well, while affording opportunities for errors and course-corrections.

Here are several steps the field can take to engage employers more effectively:

1. Strengthen the Role and Practice of Job Development
Job development represents a fundamental function for any workforce program, especially those with performance-based funding. Yet job development as a profession receives little formal attention. On the whole, job developers are underpaid, under-resourced and have surprisingly few opportunities for professional development. In a context where hiring standards are often low, stress to meet numbers is high, and turnover is endemic, it is difficult for organizations to develop sophisticated employer strategies. If we do not invest in this role, we will not see improvements in employer engagement at the transactional level.

Over the years, JobsFirstNYC has worked with Workforce Professionals Training Institute (WPTI) to convene thousands of job developers from across New York City and beyond to share effective practices and strategies, learn from field experts, and network directly with employers. WPTI is one of a handful of organizations we know of nationally that actually provides low-cost, high-quality training for job development staff. We need more examples of this kind of professional development in our field overall.

2. Strengthen and Support Job Development Supervisory Staff
Most job developers learn the skills of job development on the job. If you were like me and many of my colleagues, once you had some experience and reasonable success in working with employers, chances are you got promoted in your role, continuing to work with employers directly, but also supervising others doing the same.

Front-line job development is tough enough given pressures of meeting placement goals on performance-based contracts, but job development supervisors must also be adept at mentoring others while honing their own leadership and management skills. Supervisors must juggle contract / funder obligations and outcome expectations (often across multiple funding streams) while cultivating, leading, and sustaining a high-performing team. This is no small set of tasks, and like job developers themselves, little exists in terms of professional development or training to help develop and refine these skills. Supervisors also learn on the job, a process that inflicts significant opportunity costs on programs and organizations given high levels of turnover and attrition.

Supervisors of job developers should be trained to lead effective teams. This includes building their own leadership teams, creating effective account management teams, and using team approaches to continuously support and strengthen staff. Team work in employer engagement is crucial to transcend the old school mentality of “I keep my employer contacts in a locked safe,” and enables organizations to provide a more seamless set of services over time for any employer based relationship. As we develop such teams, we also need to be mindful about how such teams are incentivized and credited for shared job fulfillment efforts. There are interesting models we can learn from, especially from high-performing direct service providers.

3. Transcend Individual Connections
I often hear concerns from workforce leaders about just how challenging it is to sustain employer relationships when people on either side make transitions. If a job developer leaves and relationship goes with him or her, the organization is back to square one with that employer. Given that staffing changes and attrition are inevitable, I am surprised that there is not more discussion and writing about this phenomenon in our work. We need to do more to lift up examples of favorable solutions and workarounds.

The account management model is one relatively simple way to minimize institutional learning loss, especially for larger organizations. “When the phone rings, anyone on the team should be able to pick up the line and help the customer” is a long-established mantra in the sales world, and one our field could learn from. While one cannot always control for changes in HR leadership -- and yes, even if you have a relationship with the CEO of the company, it does not mean that will be the go-to person who will be responsible for managing the relationship on the employer side -- one can control for changes on the workforce side by training and supporting small teams of account managers to work together in a shared strategy.

4. Create and Leverage Board-Level Relationships
In recent years we have seen an increase in board-level involvement in organizational efforts to engage employers, and I believe that there needs to be much more of this in our field. For community-based organizations, there is a understandable challenge in doing this well given that many are led by boards that represent many issue areas and disciplines relevant to the mission of the organization, which may be more expansive and varied than just workforce training or job placement.
The best workforce organizations not only recruit business leaders at the board level, but also leverage those relationships to ensure the resources and connections they bring have maximal impact on the organization. While the door-opener for this may be commonly through corporate social responsibility, it can evolve to incorporate an integrated strategy where such relationships are leveraged to bring many different types of benefits to workforce organizations.

A thought on employer advisory boards: I am yet to see more than a handful of truly impactful organization-specific employer boards or advisory groups. Most that I have had direct experience with are in name only, or struggle with focus and enthusiasm. Employer advisory boards can be difficult to sustain for many reasons, but what I learn most commonly from employers is that the direct service organization cannot meet the scale or variety of talent needs required over time; that limitation impacts whether employers are willing or able to stay involved.

5. Build Multi-Organizational Collaborations
Perhaps one of the most promising ways to realize value for employers is through collaborative partnerships. In my years at JobsFirstNYC, we have helped develop several such initiatives, and have benefitted from the innovative and inclusive work that organizations can do when they bring together complementary capacities, resources, personnel, and data.

This is especially true for cracking the hiring processes of medium and larger sized employers, where staffing needs may be variable, customized, and at greater scale than any individual organization can meet alone. It is this type of strategy that has helped to make a national model of the Lower East Side Employment Network (LESEN), whose members have a keen sense of what they can and cannot deliver and work collaboratively to create a more organized, comprehensive approach to sourcing talent. 

Through another collaborative, the Young Adult Sectoral Employment Project, we are beginning to see very creative and effective ways to meet employer talent needs that transcend the typical set of services that workforce organizations can provide. YASEP brings together CBOs and employers to craft specific training programs to create a pipeline of highly qualified candidates for specific positions in high-growth fields.  Employers benefit from involvement in pre-hire preparation, and workforce organizations see high placement rates.  This project has become a national model.

The goal of workforce development is to remove the barriers that keep low-income job seekers out of the labor market.  Ultimately, meeting the demands for our services means embracing the needs of employers as much as job seekers – and engaging employers in a way that leads to repeat, frequent hiring over the long term.  Without fundamental changes to the way most job development happens, we may fall short.

Monday, September 26, 2016

JobsFirstNYC Testifies: Education Committee Hearing on Career and Technical Education Programs and Int. 1099 & 1193

Good afternoon, Chairman Council Member Daniel Dromm and other distinguished council members of the Education Committee. My name is Chantella Mitchell and I am the Policy and Program Associate at JobsFirstNYC, a policy to practice intermediary focused on the issues of young adults who are out of school and out of work or underemployed.

Today, there are more than 184,000 New Yorkers 16-24 who are out of school and out of work. This figure includes young adults who have dropped out of high school as well as those who have completed school and are unprepared to successfully transition to higher education or employment. In addition to the large out-of-school, out-of-work young adult population in New York City, there is a large group of young New Yorkers who are underemployed. According to a 2016 report from the New York City Comptroller, greater than 47 percent of 16-25-year-olds in New York City work in low-wage service jobs or retail. We believe that delivering quality career preparation and work experience programs within the K–12 system is one necessary strategy to decrease the numbers of young adults who enter the out-of-school, out-of-work population, and those who graduate and enter the labor market unprepared for living-wage careers.

Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs are one example of this effective strategy. The strength of CTE programming includes its focus on specific sectors. As JobsFirstNYC highlighted in its 2016 report, Optimizing Talent: The Promise and the Perils of Adapting Sectoral Strategies for Young Workers, when developed and resourced properly, sectoral strategies can successfully prepare young adults for in-demand, well-paying jobs. Moreover, CTE programming includes structured engagement with specific businesses that is mutually beneficial for students and for employers looking to develop talent pipelines within their companies and industries.

In addition to partnering with employers, some CTE schools also partner with community colleges to offer students college credit or even Associate’s Degrees as part of an extended high school experience – while the seven existing 9-14 Early College CTE schools in NYC are fairly new, they are showing positive employment and college enrollment outcomes for graduates. Finally, local CTE programming has proven its value through some promising early outcomes. A 2014 Community Service Society study found that graduation rates for students at CTE were overall better than those at non-CTE schools, and black and Latino male students at CTE schools had significantly higher graduation rates than those at traditional public schools.

However, as the City prepares for the expansion of CTE programming, it must address several implementation challenges. There is a need for increased data collection around employment outcomes for CTE graduates. The same 2014 CSS report found that while graduation rates were higher for many CTE students, CTE students had lower levels of college readiness and there was no available employment outcome data on CTE graduates from the Department of Education. In order to truly prepare students for in-demand careers, internal CTE processes should be made more efficient to allow schools and their partners to be more responsive to the local job market and economic shifts. An August 2016 article from Chalkbeat New York reported that the slow moving and inflexible bureaucracy involved with becoming CTE certified by the NY State DOE was the greatest challenge to partnering with schools for CTE work. Finally, CTE programming should not be the only career preparation and work experience programming option for students. Too much focus on CTE exclusively limits investments and attention for other successful in-school career and education program models run by nonprofits and community colleges. While some of these programs offer training in one specific sector, others focus on student choice and career exploration, offering students the flexibility to choose from an array of sectors, unlike CTE. These programs also offer students a successive learning framework, building on students’ knowledge and experience from 9-12th grade.

At JobsFirstNYC, our goal is for all young New Yorkers to benefit from the vibrant economic life of New York City. We believe that CTE, when implemented well, is one strategy for decreasing the numbers of young adults who are out-of-school and out-of-work and underemployed. We urge the City to:
·         Require that the DOE provide more information around certificate attainment, employment outcomes, and post-secondary enrollment related to the CTE training sector, specified by bill number 1099;
·         Collect evidence related to employer involvement and advisement in CTE schools to ensure programs are market-driven; and
·         Improve the implementation of successful CTE programming while investing in complementary career preparation and work experience programs for students.

JobsFirstNYC was recently commissioned by the James and Judith K. Dimon Foundation to examine the in-school career exploration and work experience programs in the Bronx, including CTE, in context of in-demand occupations and economic development in the borough. We are happy to share this report with the Council upon completion and look forward to the continued work together.

Thank you

Preparing and Protecting Young Workers in the Gig Economy

This month, New York City Council Member Brad Lander (District 29, Brooklyn) released a report on New York City's gig economy. The report detailed the financial and legal challenges many workers often face when engaging with this new economy, as well as the ways the City could improve working and living conditions for New Yorkers who choose to perform gig work. Among these were recommendations for short, medium, and long term policy solutions for solving common gig economy problems such as wage theft, worker misclassification, and obstacles to organizing and receiving work benefits. 

This summer, JobsFirstNYC presented Adapting to the Future of Work: Creating the New York City Future Talent Pipeline, a two day event that convened employers, philanthropy and practitioners on the first day and young adults themselves on the second. Across both days, speakers presented on the gig economy. On the first day, Angie Kamath, Executive Director of Social Ventures and Innovation at Per Scholas moderated a conversation between Sarah Leberstein, Labor Policy Advisor for the Labor Policy and Standards Division of the NYC Department of Consumer Affairs (former Senior Staff Attorney at the National Employment Law Project) and Chris Schildt, Senior Associate at PolicyLink titled The On-Demand Economy and the Implications for Young Jobseekers and Workers. Chris and Sarah presented data around the on-demand economy and its implications for young jobseekers and workers. On the second day, Shayna Strom, Senior Fellow at The Century Foundation, offered her perspective on worker voice and the necessity for young workers to be protected by legislation when engaging in gig-work.

The discussions detailed the scale and breadth of gig (also called on-demandproject-based, contingent, etc.) work; busted some common myths about the financial opportunities of the gig economy; and detailed the disparate, negative impact that many of the gig economy's challenges (including those detailed in Council Member Lander's report) can have on younger workers and workers of color. Chris and Sarah offered the workforce practitioners, policymakers, employers, and advocates in the audience some tangible recommendations on how they could help young people navigate the gig economy while working to improve the nature of gig work. These recommendations included:
  • Train young job seekers to "ask questions about employee status, pay, benefits and unreimbursed costs" and "organize with other workers – on-line, off-line, within a company, across an industry";
  • "Share information about companies’ practices and workers’ legal rights" and "advocate for improvements, to end unfair policies, for a reimagined workplace"; and 
  • "Choose high-road employers to work with" and "identify career pathways that leverage skills: entrepreneurship, co-ops" when designing workforce development programs and policies for young workers. 
The gig economy has the potential to present New Yorkers with a myriad of options to earn some extra cash or even make a living combining projects on a flexible schedule with room for creativity and entrepreneurship. However, because of a lack of policies and practices to prepare and protect workers and hold employers accountable, many workers are being exploited within the gig economy - from wage theft to lack of benefits to no legal protections against workplace harassment and discrimination. As technology advances and New York City's gig economy continues to grow and expand, JobsFirstNYC encourages practitioners, educators, lawmakers, philanthropy, and other advocates to support policies that end worker exploitation and misclassification, while engaging in practices that will best prepare young workers to take advantage of all of our City's employment and economic opportunities.

Learn more about the gig economy here:

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Adapting to the Future of Work - Summary & Highlights

On July 20, 2016, JobsFirstNYC convened together 175 employers, business intermediaries, trade associations, nonprofits, public agencies, and local philanthropies to consider how New York City businesses can adapt to advances in technology, changing economic trends, and demographic shifts by creating cost-effective talent development pipelines. In partnership with Young Invincibles, we hosted a full-day of panels with a morning Business Breakfast and an afternoon Executive Session. Throughout the day, we heard from panelists about internal talent pipeline development, multi-sector partnerships, employer engagement, possible evolutions of the nonprofit, and the ever-mysterious on-demand economy. While some of the topics covered were new for JobsFirstNYC events, and some familiar, all of our panels and speakers grounded their message in how to leverage different resources to best help out-of-school, out-of-work 16-24 year olds access economic opportunities.

During our Business Breakfast, we heard about internal pipeline development from Russ Cusick, Chief People Officer, North America at Swiss Post Solutions; Gail Gershon, Executive Director of Community Leadership at Gap Inc.; and Ali Marano, Head of Technology for Social Good at JPMorgan Chase on a panel moderated by Alan Momeyer, JobsFirstNYC’s Board Chair and former Vice President of Human Resources at Loews Corporation. Later, Garrett Moran, President of Year Up; Yvonne Myers, Health Systems Director for Columbine Health Systems; Liddy Romero, Executive Director of WorkLife Partnership; and Varun Sanyal, Project Manager of Economic Development at the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce spoke on a panel on multi-sector partnerships moderated by Jonathan Bowles, Executive Director of the Center for an Urban Future. Finally, Gabrielle Fialkoff, Senior Advisor to the Mayor and Director of the Office of Strategic Partnerships addressed the crowd on the importance of partnering and helping NYC’s out-of-school and -work population by building effective, accessible pipelines.

In our afternoon Executive Session, Steven Dawson, Visiting Fellow at The Pinkerton Foundation and founder of PHI, spoke in conversation with Lou Miceli, Executive Director of JobsFirstNYC about employer engagement and the series of papers the Pinkerton Foundation has commissioned Steven to write around the important topic. Garrett Moran and Liddy Romero then presented, this time talking about the Evolution of Nonprofits and where sustainability might be headed with Janet Van Liere, Director of the Community Jobs Program and the Alternative Staffing Alliance at the ICA Group and panel moderator John Macintosh, Partner and Board Member of SeaChange Capital Partners. Finally, Angie Kamath, Executive Director of Social Ventures and Innovation at Per Scholas moderated a conversation between Sarah Leberstein, Senior Staff Attorney at the National Employment Law Project and Chris Schildt, Senior Associate at PolicyLink around the on-demand economy and its implication for young jobseekers and workers.

During a share-out session moderated by Lou Miceli, people shared realizations that nonprofits must constantly adapt and evolve to survive, the dangers of pushing young people into the rocky waters of the “on-demand” economy without proper guidance, and the necessity of building sustainability into nonprofit programs to ensure their long-term survival.

On July 21st, we brought together more than 250 young New Yorkers to discuss the changing economy, future workforce trends, and economic equity. This conference for the future talent of NYC was framed in three tiers: “Me, My Community, and My City.” Throughout the day, the program was designed to build upon earlier lessons learned, thereby expanding the dialogue beyond merely what the future of work might look like into how to shape what it could and should be.

Featured speakers included Shawn Blanchard, Author and Mentorship Specialist, who spoke on overcoming obstacles by reframing your perspective; Commissioner Bill Chong of the NYC Department of Youth and Community Development who spoke to his experiences that lead him towards acting as Commission of DYCD; Shayna Strom, Senior Fellow at The Century Foundation who contextualized the abstract concept of the gig economy; and Rev. Dr. Alfonso Wyatt, Author and Motivational Specialist, who reminded the audience that their talent is a valuable resource should they choose to tap it. Additionally, spoken word artist Najee Omar addressed equity and access and their necessary relation to the Future of Work, and Program Facilitator Paul Ortega, National Director of Training and Organizational Development at Swiss Post Solutions lead a sharing session, addressing such important questions as “How might one, as a minority, operate within a corporate environment without sacrificing identity?”  Panels on July 21st included one around entrepreneurship and social enterprise featuring Lamont Hill, Manager of Reconnect Graphics; Derrius Quarles, Founder and CEO of Million Dollar Scholar; and Jerelyn Rodriguez, Co-Founder and CEO of The Knowledge House moderated by Tony Gaston as well as one consisting of Council Member Carlos Menchaca of District 38 and Council Member Antonio Reynoso of District 34 moderated by Kevin Stump, Northeast Director of Young Invincibles. 

During two breakout sessions, participants had an opportunity to interact with in smaller groups and learn from amazing educators. During the morning session, our “Employment and the Future of Work” sessions included: Swiss Post Solution’s award-winning training and development team’s Landing the Job: How to have a Successful Internship and Secure the Job; Panelists Derrius and Jerelyn’s Bossing Up: Advice for Stating a Business While Young; The LAMP’s #DontInstagramThat: Managing Your Digital Identity; Green City Force and Solar City’s Building Things that Save the World: Green Energy Jobs for the Future; and Cousin Connection’s Publishing’s Building Your Own Brand: How Two Cousins Self-Published and Self-Promoted their way to Success. The afternoon sessions, framed around “Advocacy, Equity, and the Future of Work” included: Million Hoodies for Justice’s Black Lives, Institution Building, and the Future of Work; Make the Road’s #QueerResilience from the Streets to the Workforce; The Roosevelt Institute’s Rewriting the Rules: Can a Shift in the Rules Help Change the Future of Our Economy?; Opportunity Youth United’s Building yOUR Advocacy Platform: yOUR Voice as Action; and finally, Youth Represent’s Know Your Rights: Combating Employment Discrimination.

JobsFirstNYC and Young Invincibles would like to thank the following workshop presenters, steering committee members, and volunteers for their invaluable contributions:
  • Jamiel L. Alexander, Aspen Institute: Forum for Community Solutions & YouthBuild USA-PA
  • Cordelia Alfred, Director of Human Resources, Swiss Post Solutions 
  • Aman Banerji, Senior Program Associate, Roosevelt Institute
  • Andy Bowen, Policy Analyst, United Neighborhood Houses  
  • Emily Brown
  • Mara Cerezo, Director of Career and Alumni Services, Green City Force
  • Luba Cortes, Youth Leader, Make the Road New York
  • Claire Cuno, LMSW, Navigator, Per Scholas 
  • Eric Eingold, Staff Attorney, Youth Represent
  • Ashley Felix, Photographer
  • Annie Garneva, Director, Communications and Membership Services, NYCETC
  • Henry Gonzalez, Community Organizer, Million Hoodies for Justice
  • Zenzele Johnson, Education Associate, The LAMP
  • Jesse Laymon, Director of Policy and Advocacy, NYCETC, 
  • Nahorju Lynch 
  • Xerxses Morris 
  • Paul Ortega, National Director of Training & Organizational Development, Swiss Post Solutions
  • Evelyn Ortiz, Director of Government Affairs & Community Partnerships, Opportunities for a Better Tomorrow 
  • Michael Parker, YouthBuild
  • Derrius Quarles, CEO, Million Dollar Scholar
  • Teresa Rivera, Public Allies
  • Jerelyn Rodriguez, Co-Founder and CEO, The Knowledge House
  • Jose Velez, Director of Information Technology, Swiss Post Solutions
  • D.C. Vito, Executive Director, The LAMP
  • Claudia von Nostitz, FAO Schwarz Family Foundation Fellow, Reading Partners
  • Brittany Watts, Field Energy Consultant, Solar City
  • Jarell Wilson, Illustrator, Cousin Connections Publishing
  • Mya Wilson, Author, Cousin Connections Publishing
  • Angelica Wong
Additionally, we would like to thank everyone who attended one or both days of our Adapting to the Future of Work convening, as well as all of our presenters, partners, and funders, who made this event possible. We look forward to our next event with all of you as we all work towards expanding opportunities for out-of-school, out-of-work young New Yorkers. If you were unable to join us this time, we look forward to seeing you next year!

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Mayor de Blasio and the NYC Council Reach a FY 2017 Budget Agreement

Yesterday, Mayor de Blasio and New York City Council Speaker, Melissa Mark-Viverito announced their agreement on the $82.1 billion budget for fiscal year 2017 that will begin on July 1st of this year. Included in the budget were $42 million dollar Summer and Year Round Youth Employment Programs, which youth employment advocates and the Council have urged the Mayor's administration to adopt since negotiations began months ago. Other major investments included a $700 million increase in funding for public hospitals, community clinics, assisted living facilities and home-health care services; increased funding for libraries; and boosted investments in the city's efforts to combat homelessness. Click here for more information on yesterday's budget agreement.