- New York state's Workforce Development Initiative will divvy up $175 million among local employers and other stakeholders to fund projects that support "regionally significant industries in emerging fields with growing demands for jobs, including those in clean energy, life science, computer science and advanced technologies," according to a press release from Governor Andrew Cuomo.
- The initiative was first announced in January 2018, the release said, but a new applicant funding process will award the money to projects in three categories: "Public-Private Partnerships to Advance 21st Century Skills,": "Employer-Driven Skills" and "Workforce Solutions." The first category includes programs administered through the State University of New York and the City University of New York that connect students with local employers via on-the-job training opportunities or seek better classroom materials and technologies to train students in the skills regional employers need, the statement said. The second category includes upskilling and training programs for which employers want funding or tax breaks, according to the statement. The third will include projects to improve talent pipelines for the state's emerging industries — especially for projects that would "improve the economic security of women, young workers and other populations that face significant barriers to career advancement."
- New York's 10 Regional Economic Development Councils — established by Cuomo in 2011 — will recommend projects that best adhere to these three categories and advance the state's workforce goals, the statement said. The application process opened May 8.
Employers trying to prospect the future skills workers will need while also upskilling for today have leaned on partnerships with state governments to come up with workable solutions and collaborate better with educational institutions. Most recently, Stanley Black & Decker debuted a high-tech upskilling facility in Hartford, Connecticut, with the support of Governor Ned Lamont, who said the state tailored its school curriculums to ensure students had the right skills to work in advanced manufacturing.
Like New York's initiative, these alliances often target skills gaps in industries affected by rapid technological advancements, like STEM and manufacturing where workers' skills become outmoded quickly. Digital disruption and low unemployment have pushed employers to consider building a talent pipeline from within as an alternative to recruiting, but whether New York employers choose the build or buy route, the initiative may well aid their efforts. Funding internal upskilling programs and teaching leading-edge skills through SUNY and CUNY are both goals of the initiative.
"We must ensure the workforce of today is not only prepared for the jobs we have now, but also ready for the jobs of tomorrow," Cuomo said in the release. "The Workforce Development Initiative is another significant step to ensure future growth in the state and help New Yorkers succeed in the 21st Century economy."
Employers considering partnering with state governments in a similar way might keep in mind that the community buy-in may be hard won — even with a promise to bring jobs to a city or state. Even with government support of a well-designed upskilling or learning program, organizations might have a shallow pool of local talent to recruit from without community support.