HF Releases Workforce 2015 Development Report

The growing concern over rising inequality was a central feature in the 2013 mayoral election in New York City. It was a theme that resonated with many New Yorkers, especially Latinos and Blacks, who have disproportionately felt the negative impact of the city’s deepening economic disparity. However, in the election’s aftermath many questioned the power of the city’s executive to reduce inequality in general and its racial and ethnic dimensions in particular.

While concern with unrealistic expectations may be warranted, we believe there is an unprecedented opportunity for the de Blasio administration to work with the New York City Council and other key stakeholders to shift the focus of city policy in the areas of economic development, workforce development and employment in ways that could mitigate, or even reduce, inequality in New York City.

Last year Mayor Bill de Blasio ordered all agencies to begin aggressively tackling income inequality. In this spirit, the Hispanic Federation presents its 2015 policy paper Growth with Equity: Meeting the Workforce Development Needs of Latinos in New York City. It is a rethinking of the city’s workforce development services as well as a launching pad for ideas on how to economically uplift Latino and other struggling New Yorkers.

Over the last few years the Hispanic Federation has advocated policy reforms designed to address the many challenges faced by Latinos, immigrants and others seeking to connect to the workforce system in order to receive a range of employment, training and placement services. In 2010, HF released Futures in the Balance: Meeting the Workforce Development Needs of Latinos in New York City that included a number of recommendations for improving Latino access to New York City’s Workforce System. In 2013, HF released La Gran Manzana: The Road Ahead for New York City’s Latino Community, which outlined a broad policy agenda including a robust set of reforms aimed at economically empowering Latino New Yorkers. These reports present a vision and policy blueprint that recognizes the importance and contributions of the Latino community and highlight the particular challenges and opportunities faced by this large segment of New York City’s population.

Growth with Equity builds upon our previous reports and lays out key reforms to ensure the city’s workforce and economic development systems are working for Latinos. These include:

Expansion of services to serve the wide swath of unemployed, underemployed, disconnected and economically stagnant New Yorkers who are in need of training, education, certifications and other initiatives to move out of poverty and toward jobs that provide livable wages and a more “middle class” standard of living

Expansion of initiatives for hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers who are in need of assessments, vocational literacy and GED classes, citizenship services, worker safety and rights training, workplace conduct, sectoral skills training, pre-apprenticeship and certification programs, community education and organizing, and access to higher education

Implementation of services and investments aimed at economically empowering New Yorkers, including day laborer training, OSHA health and safety training, financial literacy classes, union membership drives for low-wage workers, sectoral training programs for growth industries, wage and labor law enforcement, and ensuring synergies between economic development and workforce development policies

Implementation of broader policies such as expanding youth employment programs, improving failing schools, building and preserving affordable housing

Expansion of nonprofit CBO workforce development programs and worker centers to ensure those on the front lines are able to meet the growing needs of economically struggling Latinos. The city should engage in the development and implementation of a multilingual, multimedia community education campaign to inform, educate and empower New Yorkers to take advantage of these expanded services.

Enhancing of workforce development system, performance and effectiveness by integrating ESOL, immigration and workforce services, improving coordination among community, government and other providers, using CBOs as the front-line enrollers and assessors, creating universal assessment tools and data systems, offering professional development for job developers and workforce development trainers, and incentivizing effective programs.