March 13, 2012

With Good-Paying Jobs Going Unfilled Due to a Lack of Training Opportunities, Gillibrand Announces Agenda to Train More Workers for Jobs in Growing Industries

COUNTY-BY-COUNTY Estimates: 3.2 Million New Yorkers with High School Education Could Earn $188,000 More per Person with Additional Education

Washington, D.C. – With reports showing the lasting economic benefits of postsecondary education and career training, and with good-paying jobs going unfilled as a result of a lack of training opportunities, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today announced a new legislative agenda to help prepare New York’s workforce with the skills necessary for jobs in growing industries.

Senator Gillibrand’s plan would strengthen job training opportunities at community colleges, support collaborative efforts among academic institutions and local businesses, provide more businesses with on-the-job training programs, and invest in workforce training in the industries with the most potential for job growth, such as advanced manufacturing in clean energy, computer technology, aerospace and biotechnology.

“You won’t find harder working people anywhere outside New York State,” said Senator Gillibrand. “With the right training and skills, we can fill the jobs of tomorrow right here – with more of our workers in good-paying, family supporting jobs. When we strengthen our workforce, we can help more local businesses grow, attract new businesses, and set the foundation for a strong and growing economy. And, the best way to cut the deficit is to put people back to work.”

According to a 2011 survey by the Manufacturing Institute, more than 600,000 manufacturing jobs are unfilled due to a shortage of skilled workers. Two-thirds of small business leaders and more than half of all business leaders struggle with recruiting employees with the right education and training, particularly for “middle-skill” jobs that require training between a high school diploma and a four-year college degree.

By 2018, 21 of the 30 fastest-growing jobs will require a postsecondary certificate or degree. These jobs make up nearly half of America’s labor market, and nearly half of all of the openings over the next decade for highly compensated jobs. 

Approximately 3.2 million New Yorkers between the ages of 18 and 64 have only high school education today. Additional education can increase individual income by approximately $188,000 in a lifetime.

  • In New York City, there are more than 1.3 million people with a high school degree, GED or alternative.
  • In Western New York, there are more than 275,000 people with a high school degree, GED or alternative.
  • In the Rochester-Finger Lakes Region, there are over 210,000 people with a high school degree, GED or alternative.
  • In Central New York, there are over 220,000 people with a high school degree, GED or alternative.
  • In the Southern Tier, there are over 118,000 people with a high school degree, GED or alternative.
  • In the Capital Region, there are over 118,000 people with a high school degree, GED or alternative.
  • In the North Country, there are nearly 115,000 people with a high school degree, GED or alternative.
  • In the Hudson Valley, there are nearly 350,000 people with a high school degree, GED or alternative.
  • On Long Island, there are over 446,000 people with a high school degree, GED or alternative.

SENATOR GILLIBRAND’S JOB TRAINING AGENDA 

Enhance Job Training Opportunities at Community Colleges
Increasing the amount of working adults with up to two years of postsecondary education and training by 10 percent could generate as much as $14 billion for the economy each year, according to the Center for Labor Market Studies. Adults with some college education average approximately $188,000 more in lifetime earnings than those with only a high school education, and adults with an associate’s degree averaged more than $400,000 more in lifetime earnings. And when the head of a household has more than a high school education, the chances of that household living in poverty drops by 35 percent, according to the U.S. Census.

Senator Gillibrand is working to leverage more job training opportunities from America’s community colleges through the Community College Innovation Act, legislation that invests in community colleges that collaborate with local workforce development boards and employers to customize training for local jobs in fields that are in demand.

The legislation would invest $5 billion to build or improve infrastructure at community colleges for job training facilities and technology, such as the construction of new training, education and research centers like Hudson Valley Community College’s TEC-SMART (Training and Education Center for Semiconductor Manufacturing and Alternative and Renewable Technologies) or Suffolk Community College’s Advanced Energy Research and Technology Center. The funding could also be used to upgrade current facilities by adding state-of-the-art instructional technology like science labs, clean rooms and other necessary tools for learning in high-tech fields.

This legislation also restores funding to the Community-Based Job Training Grant (CBJTG) which, through the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), would provide funding for community colleges to form strategic partnerships with workforce development boards and employers, and to develop employer-focused, demand-driven workforce development programs. 

Strengthen Career & Technical Education
Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs work to prepare workers for jobs in high-wage, high-skill, and high-demand careers, such as engineering, information technology and health care, through academic and technical skills necessary for true career readiness. 

Funding for CTE programs is provided through the federal Perkins program, which was slashed by $140 million from more adequate levels in 2010, leaving high schools, CTE centers, community and technical colleges with fewer resources to train students for good jobs.

Senator Gillibrand is working to restore Perkins funding so we can continue investing in CTE programs, and provide more education and training opportunities for New Yorkers ready to work in fields that will define the economy of our future.

Nationwide studies have shown investing in CTE programs yield strong returns, with increased wages for individuals, increased tax revenues, and reductions in government spending on public assistance. And a well-trained workforce will keep America competing at the high end in the global economy. 

Promote On-The-Job Training
On-the-job training provides significant advantages for both businesses and workers. Employers can minimize the upfront costs of training and supervision for new employees, ensuring that training is aligned with actual skill requirements of the job, and realize immediate gains in productivity as workers learn on the job. Employees benefit by receiving a paycheck while acquiring the skills to perform effectively on-the-job, and advance their careers beyond the lifespan of the training program.

Senator Gillibrand is working to pass legislation that invests in local on-the-job training programs. The On-the-Job Training Act would establish grants for local and state workforce investment boards that would provide a training subsidy to a local employer that agrees to hire local workers that need training.

Investing in on-the-job training can have a lasting impact. In 2007, more than 85 percent of individuals participating in a publically-funded on-the-job training program were still on the job 12 months after exiting the training program. Eighty percent of businesses surveyed indicated they would be more likely to hire new workers, and sooner, if they had access to on-the-job training assistance.

This legislation can help workers get the skills they need faster, and encourage more employers to hire new workers sooner, getting more New Yorkers back on the job, and strengthening our overall workforce.

Invest in High-Tech Career Training

Careers in high-skilled manufacturing, such as clean energy, computer technology, aerospace and biotechnology, grew by nearly 40 percent from 1983 to 2002. These fields were the only source of job growth in American manufacturing during that time period, and continue to grow today. Computer and electronic manufacturing industries increased employment by 9 percent from 2004 to 2008, according to a 2010 report on manufacturing in New York from the Office of the State Comptroller, and have major potential to create more new jobs.

The same report shows that of the 250,000 computer and electronic manufacturing jobs in upstate New York, 44 percent are in the most advanced technology areas.  Jobs in information and communications technology are also on the rise – with 6,000 new jobs in this field created from 2004 to 2008, and another 1,800 new jobs in life science technologies. Both of these industries have average salaries of $70,000 and higher.

To harness the full potential of the growing fields of advanced manufacturing, Senator Gillibrand is working to pass the High-Tech JOBS Act. The legislation would establish pilot programs for educational institutions and workforce investment boards to partner with manufacturers to train workers for careers in advanced manufacturing.  The pilot programs must meet the following requirements:

  • Target communities with existing or expected growth in advanced manufacturing;
  • Result in employer- or industry-recognized and nationally transferable credentials;
  • Educate individuals about opportunities for career advancement within advanced manufacturing jobs; and
  • Give priority to incumbent workers, dislocated workers, and jobless workers.