Adams Launches Workforce Development Council, Funding for Apprenticeships

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New York City Mayor Eric Adams wants to reimagine and strengthen the city’s workforce in the post-pandemic world, and his administration is launching a new advisory committee and funding for more apprenticeships to help reach that goal. 

The New York City Workforce Development Council — a group of more than 30 business, educational, union and worker training professionals headed by Tishman Speyer CEO Rob Speyer — will make recommendations to the Mayor’s Office of Talent and Workforce and the city’s Workforce Development Board, Commercial Observer has learned. The Workforce Development Board oversees between $60 million and $100 million in annual federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) funding.

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The Workforce Development Council’s main goal is twofold: develop strategies to help New Yorkers find “family-sustaining careers,” while simultaneously helping city employers find and develop the talent they need to thrive. Speyer, who has years of experience in public-private partnerships, will lead the council as its inaugural chair, starting with its first meeting on Thursday morning.

The council’s creation is a result of recommendations set forth last year by the city’s Future of Workers Task Force, convened by Adams in August 2022 to reimagine New York City’s talent and labor force development efforts. 

“While our city has recovered all of the private-sector jobs lost during the pandemic, our recovery has not benefitted every New Yorker equitably,” Adams said in a statement. “To change this, we need partners from every corner of our city to help build an economy with real pathways to family-sustaining careers.”

It’s no secret that the cost of living in New York City is among the highest in the world, a fact that’s helping drive the city to rethink how it evolves its workforce, said Abby Jo Sigal, executive director of the Mayor’s Office of Talent and Workforce Development, which will oversee the council. Yet, the ultimate purpose of the council is to provide a “center of gravity” for public-private partnerships in the labor development space, she said. 

“It’s about coming together to figure out how to invest workforce development dollars, education and other public resources in a way that best supports both job seekers and employers,” Sigal told the CO.

In addition to launching the council, the Adams administration is releasing two requests for proposals — together totaling $3.5 million in WIOA funds — to help deliver more apprenticeship opportunities for young New Yorkers over the coming years.

That investment will be used to identify potential partners in the private and nonprofit sectors interested in developing apprenticeship programs, as well as maturing existing development programs into full-fledged apprenticeships. The initiative plays into the city’s goal of creating 30,000 apprenticeships by 2030, announced by Adams during his “State of the City” address in early 2023

It was not immediately clear how many current apprenticeships count toward that total, though Sigal said the city will release detailed data on that front later this spring. 

Nick Trombola can be reached at ntrombola@commercialobserver.com.