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New York State Workforce Strategy Group Launches to Get New Yorkers Back to Work

Led by Invest in Skills NY, the group will present actionable solutions to New York State officials 

Albany, New York July 15, 2020 Workforce development coalition Invest in Skills NY (ISNY) today launched a New York State Workforce Strategy Group to develop clear, actionable policy and funding recommendations for an equitable economic recovery in New York during a time of record-high unemployment and underemployment. The group’s recommendations will be presented to Governor Cuomo’s office and the New York State Legislature by Labor Day 2020.

“With nearly four million New Yorkers who need to get back to work, rethinking how we fund and approach education, job training and employment is critical,” said Melinda Mack, coh-chair and co-founder of ISNY and Executive Director of NYATEP. “We aren’t sure what jobs are going to recover, and prior to COVID-19 many New Yorkers were barely scraping by. We have a chance to change this trend, and it will take a collaborative approach to address the systemic challenges that were exacerbated by the pandemic and to ensure workforce development is part of the economic recovery.”

The state has distributed $25 billion in unemployment benefits to 2.9 million New Yorkers since the pandemic began, according to the New York State Department of Labor. Unemployment rates have also disproportionately impacted low-income communities, people of color, and women. 

“What the COVID-19 crisis has shown is the reliance of our economy on low-wage service jobs, with the average pre-layoff wage of individuals under $40,000 in NYS,” stated Brian Williams, Commissioner of Employment & Training and Director of the Rensselaer County Career Center. “As a workforce development system, the investment needs to foster the alignment of skills-based career and educational pathways that are driven by the businesses’ needs. This roadmap may have several on and off-ramps, but should ultimately lead to economic sufficiency and success of all workers.”

“New York City lost around 20% of its jobs in the first three months of the pandemic, so it’s imperative that we build a more equitable and sustainable workforce system to address this,” said Kevin Stump, co-chair and co-founder of ISNY and Senior Vice President at JobsFirstNYC. “We’re looking forward to working with partners across the state to provide insights and present creative and lasting solutions.”

The NYS Workforce Strategy Group is made up of known, effective leaders and innovators in the business, nonprofit, education, and job training community, representing both upstate and downstate. Together they will work through the systemic challenges, including insufficient and inflexible funding, federal and state policy barriers, and present new, innovative ideas to reskill and upskill New Yorkers.

Participants include: 

Abby Jo Sigal, Here to Here

Aimee Durfee, CenterStateCEO

Ale Mendoza, Optimax

Amber Mooney, Business Council of NYS

Andre White, Phipps Neighborhoods

Anthony Gaddy, Upstate NY Black Chamber of Commerce

Brian Williams, Rensselaer County Employment & Training

David Garza, Henry Street Settlement

Ira Yankwitt, Literacy Assistance Center

Jane MacKillop, CUNY Lehman College

Jesse Roylance, Washington Irving Educational Center

Jessica Centeno, Center for Employment Opportunities

Jose Ortiz, NYCETC

Joseph Dragone, Capital Region BOCES

Judith Smith, NYC Workforce Funders Group

Katie Geise, Chautauqua Works

Katy Gaul Stigge, Goodwill of NY and NJ

Keith Rasmussen, SEEDCO

Kevin Stump, JobsFirstNYC

Liliana Polo McKenna, Opportunities for a Better Tomorrow

Marlene Cintron, Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation

Martha Ponge, Manufacturers Association of Central NY

Melinda Mack, NYATEP

Merrill Pond, Partnership for NYC

Michael Seereiter, NYS Alliance for Inclusion and Innovation

Patrick Kaler, Visit Buffalo Niagara

Plinio Ayala, Per Scholas

Randy Peers, Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce

Rosalie Drago, Suffolk County Department of Labor

Roscoe Naguit,  Niagara Global Tourism Institute 

Ryan Silva, NYS Economic Development Council

Sandi Vito, SEIU 1199 Employment & Training Fund

Stacy Woodruff, WPTI/NYC Workforce HUB

Stephen Tucker, Northland Training Center

Todd Oldham, SUNY Monroe Community College

Vanessa Preston, Grant Associates

Vivian Benton, Workforce Development Institute

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