New state Jobs Strike Force launched at Bronx jobs fair

Eager job seekers line up outside Hostos Community College job fair on Thursday, May 29.
Photo by Patrick Rocchio

A job fair at Hostos Community College served as a backdrop for an announcement regarding a the creation a new “strike” task force to fight unemployment in the borough.

The announcement was made to correspond with the first-ever New York Works Career Expo, that offered job seekers access to more than 6,773 available jobs.

The expo was held in collaboration with the State Department of Labor and Empire State Development Corporation, and featured 87 businesses at the college on Thursday, May 29.

The statewide multi-agency strike task force should match the jobless with skills and employers.

The effort is a collaboration with Gov. Cuomo’s administration and many organizations, including J.P. Morgan Chase which will provide about $20 million over five years in seed funding for job training; Phipps Community Development, which will identify the proper kind of training required to obtain jobs that are already available; Hostos Community College, which will offer training leading directly to jobs, and Montefiore Medical Center, the Bronx’s largest employer who has pledged to hire those the initiative trains.

Borough President Diaz, who was on hand for the announcement of the new job creation initiative, said that it will put an end to excuses from both people looking for work and employees looking to hire.

“There are no more excuses,” said Diaz, “everybody has a responsibility here.”

“So, moving forward, we are no longer to be the county with the highest unemployment rate in the state,” he added, to cheers at the announcement.

The Bronx has vacillated from being either having the first or the second highest unemployment rate of any county in the state, even though the overall rate has been declining.

A different program

The program will differ markedly from others like it because it will no longer be the type of program where people go to be trained and then say a prayer that they will get a job, said Alphonso David, Deputy Secretary for Civil Rights, who oversees workforce issues for the Cuomo administration.

“We are starting in the Bronx because it is the county with the highest unemployment in the state,” said David, adding that unemployment has decreased in the Bronx but that Cuomo wants it to bring it down even further.

The program differs markedly from other efforts to train people for jobs because it is targeting five industries with occupations that are in demand and the program will specifically address any “skills gap” that would prevent applicants from being considered for these positions, he said.

The idea is to tailor the training program specifically to the jobs that are available, and then match the employee with the job, he and others explained.

Reach Reporter Patrick Rocchio at (718) 742–3393. E-mail him at Follow him on Twitter @patrickfrocchio.
Job fair at state Labor Department employment push drew a number of job seekers and employers.
Photo by Patrick Rocchio

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