To better help low-income workers gain the skills and knowledge needed to secure quality jobs, public and private workforce development initiatives in New York City must improve not only what they do but how they work together, a report from the Workforce Professionals Training Institute's Workforce Field Building Hub finds.
Based on interviews with more than eighty local workforce system leaders and experts, the report, Workforce Agenda for New York City (60 pages, PDF), found broad consensus among business, philanthropic, nonprofit, and government leaders that the field lacks the systemwide cohesion and leadership needed to meet the workforce challenges the city faces — including changes in the kinds of jobs available and the skills they require, as well as evolving labor policies and recruitment practices.
Commissioned by the Workforce Funders group, a network of funders established in 2001 at the New York Community Trust, the report calls on stakeholders to strengthen the city's workforce development ecosystem at a systemic level by not only providing more funding but focusing on how funds are deployed; investing in an infrastructure that supports ongoing systems of information sharing and analysis; strengthening collaborative capacities that emphasize impact over scale; organizing a robust, multi-stakeholder advocacy campaign that targets the mayor, city council, and key state legislators; and empowering a council of leaders to act as stewards of the workforce agenda. Among other things, the report's authors recommend confronting systemic barriers in the city's RFP programs; creating a dedicated Information Infrastructure Fund in support of knowledge sharing and analysis; and investing more deeply in fewer organizations to boost genuine career pathways capacity.
"Extraordinary forces are reshaping New York City's economy for workers and businesses, yet it's within our control whether we succumb to them or transform our workforce system to meet this moment," said Stacy Woodruff, director of the Workforce Field Building Hub. "We hope this report, which distills learnings from the leaders in this field, moves us from words to actions that truly support New York City workers and businesses."
(Photo credit: Katie Haugland Bowen)