Upstate New York is still experiencing a skills gap in regional labor forces with an estimated 210,000 unfilled jobs statewide that companies are struggling to fill.
This issue ranked high with the Governor in his State of the State address earlier this month, and Tuesday’s budget set out Cuomo’s plan to tackle the issue.
The executive budget outlines changes to the system of funding for community colleges in order to rejuvenate the state’s workforce and stimulate economic development in each region.
The changes will serve to refocus college workforce and vocational programs on training students to succeed in today’s high-skills economy. First, in order to qualify for State funding, community college workforce and vocational programs will be offered in partnership with employers and be focused on high-demand jobs that need to be filled now. Using guidance from the Department of Labor, and working with the Regional Councils, community colleges will help the workforce prepare for the future.
New performance-based funding is also part of the blueprint for modernizing community college programs to up-skill New York state’s workforce.
The budget sets aside $5 million to reward community colleges that:
Enable students to find or advance in good-paying jobs in their chosen occupation, provide training for careers that are in demand by employers in their region, and help students graduate on time with an industry-recognized degree or certificate.
Community colleges will be advised by the state Department of Labor and will work with the Regional Economic Development Councils to help prepare the workforce for the future the document says.
Additionally, a third round of funding for Cuomo’s 2011 initiative, NYSUNY 2020, will see $55 million set aside to be awarded to projects at SUNY institutions, based on economic impact, advancement of academic goals, innovation, and collaboration in the project.
A new NYCUNY 2020 initiative is also being launched with $55 million included in the budget for projects judged on the same criteria, coming out of CUNY institutions.
Cuomo’s budget refers to the higher education initiatives as a measure to ensure students are prepared for the jobs of today and tomorrow.
The NYSUNY 2020, and NYCUNY 2020 initiatives are designed to address the important process of tech transfer, and close the gap between innovation and commercialization.
These programs will continue Governor Cuomo’s place-based regional economic development initiative, linking the knowledge and innovation of higher education to regional economic revitalization through large and small businesses.
In his third State of the State address at the beginning of January, Cuomo highlighted a need to reinvent the state’s community college system in order to spur job growth and economic development.
Cuomo described the job growth in upstate New York over the past decade as specifically troubling at just 5 percent, less than half of the 11 percent growth statewide.
Cuomo’s 2013-2014 state budget aims to address the issues in the job market upstate, as well as catering to industry needs.
Disclosure: The SUNY Research Foundation is an underwriter of the Innovation Trail reporting project.