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Case Studies

Exploring Paths to an Inclusive Workforce in NYC

Sep 30 2020
Exploring Paths to an Inclusive Workforce in NYC

What would it take to connect New Yorkers of all backgrounds to good jobs? To help answer this question, we asked the city’s workforce development community for innovative solutions.

Tech and other growing sectors are increasingly at the core of New York City’s economy, but jobs in these industries can be unobtainable for too many New Yorkers. This is often due to systemic gaps that leave potential applicants inadequately trained, skilled, or credentialed; or simply unaware that a job or career is even possible. And while the City has made efforts to address gaps, there is room to make even greater progress. The reports outlined below offer ideas on how to do just that.

Advancing the Conversation

As part of our commitment to make the city’s neighborhoods and economy stronger and more inclusive, we recently commissioned research to advance the conversation around the future of workforce development in NYC—and help make good jobs in tech and growing sectors accessible to more New Yorkers.

NYCEDC’s approach to workforce development is to leverage existing projects, real estate assets, and partnerships to create and support sustainable workforce development initiatives that prepare individuals with the lasting skills they need for career growth. We released a request for expressions of interest in 2019 and selected seven proposals from groups that sought to research and plan innovative approaches the City can take to increase the training and hiring of underrepresented New Yorkers in tech and other in-demand sectors. The resulting reports raised a number of themes, including:

  • Making the tech industry more inclusive and available to more populations.
  • Creating better connections between various communities and populations in NYC with jobs and careers in growing sectors.

Our hope is that these reports will support the efforts of policymakers, workforce development providers, funders, and employers in NYC—and bring them into this important conversation.

Building a More Inclusive Tech Workforce

The Reports

Building a More Inclusive Tech Workforce

Partner: HR&A Advisors, Inc., with Jobs for the Future (JFF) and LaGuardia Community College (LaGuardia)

What’s Being Addressed: Over the past decade, New York City has become a global tech hub. Yet the tech ecosystem does not reflect the city’s diversity: Black and Latinx New Yorkers and women are underrepresented, and an increasing share of ecosystem jobs require a four-year degree, despite evidence that degrees are not required to succeed in many tech roles.

Paths to Improvement:

  • Promote awareness of the tech ecosystem in NYC and available training, including developing training modules for NYC Department of Education CS4All (Computer Science for All) instructors, career coaches, and nonprofits.
  • Build on successful City programs such as Tech Talent Pipeline’s (TTP) Data Analyst Training Accelerator, which provide targeted training for in-demand “opportunity occupations,” which offer the most promise for economic mobility.
  • Scale City and employer efforts to promote talent from underrepresented backgrounds, including expanding the Tech Talent Pipeline team.
  • Examine City incentives and other mechanisms within the City’s control to encourage employers to adopt equitable hiring practices.
  • Expand accelerated training programs and provide income and other assistance, as well as mentorship, to underrepresented trainees.
Read the Full Report
  • Building a More Inclusive Tech Workforce

Expanding the NYCHA to Tech Pipeline

Partner: Urbane Development, with Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation

What’s Being Addressed: The project took a place-based research approach to understand barriers to and opportunities for creating a more accessible pipeline into the tech workforce for New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) residents of Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn.

Paths to Improvement:

  • Ecosystem partners and NYCHA’s Jobs-Plus program should cooperate to implement recurring tech workforce workshops as hubs of relationship-building and resource-sharing.
  • Experiment with a universal training stipend that follows individuals (rather than programs) to reframe resident skilling as valuable and valued work.
  • Pilot a tech apprenticeship program focused on training residents to meet NYCHA and City tech needs, while designing solutions developed through public housing user experiences.
  • Build an expanded tech skills component into NYCHA’s Office of Resident Economic Empowerment & Sustainability (REES) business pathways programming to improve entrepreneur competitiveness and competence.
Read the Full Report
  • Expanding the NYCHA to Tech Pipeline
Bridging New Yorkers into Good Jobs: A Toolkit for Expanding Bridge Programs in NYC

Bridging New Yorkers into Good Jobs: A Toolkit for Expanding Bridge Programs in NYC

Partner: NYC Employment and Training Coalition, Per Scholas, The Door, General Assembly

What’s Being Addressed: This project has two major goals. First, to jumpstart a discussion about the role of bridge programs—which prepare individuals with the foundational skills needed to enter and succeed in job training programs—in improving not only the employment prospects of individual New Yorkers, but also the city’s broader workforce development systems. Second, to offer specific guidance for organizations interested in developing and scaling bridge programs of their own, as well as for policymakers, funders, and advocates interested in supporting them.

Paths to Improvement:

  • Scale and fund bridge programs linked to existing career pathways across agencies.
  • Scale up “next step” training programs to absorb scaling up of bridge programs.
  • Develop innovative sustainable sources of funding that link workforce and economic development systems via public subsidies and business contributions.
  • Bridge program providers and advocates should develop a consistent language for measuring and tracking outcomes.
  • Incorporate comprehensive wraparound services in bridge programs as best practice.
Read the Full Report
  • Bridging New Yorkers into Good Jobs: A Toolkit for Expanding Bridge Programs in NYC

Bridging the Gap: Connecting Sunset Park Residents to a Changing Workplace

Partner: Opportunities for a Better Tomorrow & Perch Advisors

What’s Being Addressed: Understand the growing job opportunities in tech, manufacturing, and creative sectors along the Sunset Park waterfront and recommend how community-based organizations, employers, and City government can better align local residents’ skills and interests with these new opportunities.

Paths to Improvement:

  • Launch a comprehensive career awareness campaign that would increase the community’s knowledge about job availability at local job hubs and dispel the notion that jobs along the waterfront are inaccessible.
  • Integrate workplace readiness and digital literacy in English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) classes and developing basic workplace readiness and advanced trainings in multiple sectors.
  • Create an advisory board, comprising Community Based Organizations (CBO) and employers, to provide ongoing opportunities for employer-informed curriculum design and an ongoing feedback loop between employers and CBOs around building a pipeline of local workers.
  • Provide organizations with additional resources to adapt to new ways of training residents— from transforming and building new programming to increasing coordination and alignment between local employers and training providers.
Read the Full Report
  • Bridging the Gap: Connecting Sunset Park Residents to a Changing Workplace

CUNY Data Science for All

Partner: The City University of New York (CUNY)

What’s Being Addressed: CUNY’s Office of Continuing Education and Workforce Programs undertook a research and planning project to strategize how best to increase the availability of tech skills—especially in data science and analytics (DSA)—and best practices in applied and experiential learning to all CUNY students.

Paths to Improvement:

  • Offer general education courses in DSA that teach thousands of students foundational DSA skills.
  • Provide specialized courses in both tech and non-tech majors that apply these skills to real-world problems and opportunities in fields from healthcare to finance.
  • Foster extracurricular skill and network development via on-campus bootcamps, such as CUNYCodes, and off-campus meetups and hackathons.
  • Create more internship opportunities, whether in traditional academic-year internships or shorter-term “winternships,” as per the successful Women in Tech NY/Break Through Tech model.
Read the Full Report
  • CUNY Data Science for All
Connected Pathways to Tech Employment

Creating a Pipeline of Individuals with Disabilities for Employment in the Technology Sector

Partner: Institute for Career Development, New York Institute of Technology, CUNY Labor Market Information Service

What’s Being Addressed: Opportunities for people with disabilities to obtain both training and employment in the technology sector are scant, despite growing talent needs and shortages in qualified candidates. The purpose of the research was to identify optimal pathways for moving people with disabilities through well-designed training programs to well-paid and welcoming environments for employment in the technology sector.

Paths to Improvement:

  • Adopt performance-based interviewing approaches.
  • Remove degree requirement for positions where skills can be obtained through vocational training and industry-recognized certification/credentialing programs. 
  • Include disability as an aspect of diversity and inclusion policy and implement audits such as the Disability Equality Index survey to ensure policy becomes practice.
  • Develop new and innovative entry pathways for high demand job openings, such as paid internship programs and other “try-out” models that allow hiring managers to directly assess the work performance of people with disabilities.
  • Build capacity for serving people with disabilities by fostering closer collaboration between tech training providers and training providers who specialize in working with this population.
Read the Full Report
  • Creating a Pipeline of Individuals with Disabilities for Employment in the Technology Sector

Connected Pathways to Tech Employment

Partner: Pursuit, with New York Public Library, Queens Public Library, Brooklyn Public Library, CUNY, Urban Upbound, Tech:NYC, NYCHA, and GLG

What’s Being Addressed: The partner group kicked off a project to develop a deeper understanding of, and actionable solutions to, the barriers and challenges that currently prevent underrepresented populations from accessing jobs in tech. These individuals frequently lack college degrees, professional experience, and relevant industry networks.

Paths to Improvement:

  • Create connected paths to career-specific employment so New Yorkers with diverse and non-traditional backgrounds can break into tech.
  • Catalyze and establish the market for financing income-share agreements designed for low-socio-economic adults, as a sustainable and scalable mechanism for providing last-mile training for this population.
  • Proactively work with and incentivize employers to pilot, track results of, and scale effective employment models.
  • Fund and support intermediaries to work with employers to ensure professional integration, career advancement, and financial well-being for workers.
Read the Full Report
  • Connected Pathways to Tech Employment

To learn more about our commission of these reports and other workforce development efforts, contact Ian Straughter, Assistant Vice President, Workforce Development Partnerships, at [email protected].