Gotham Gazette: Identifying Programs from Elsewhere to Boost NYC’s Economic Recovery and Transformation

December 20, 2021

By Ethan Geringer-Sameth 

Excerpted from the Gotham Gazette 

In June, New Jersey launched Pay It Forward, a bond initiative to fund workforce training programs for good-paying jobs in growing industries as part of an effort to address the lack of short-term education options for low-income residents. Economists and skills-training providers are urging Mayor-elect Eric Adams and the incoming City Council set to take office in January to explore a similar model in New York to raise badly-needed revenue, fill growing skills gaps, and create a more cohesive workforce development landscape.

A new report from Center for an Urban Future (CUF), explores how a bond program in New York City, if done carefully, can help bring successful training programs to scale and shift incentives to encourage workforce development in higher-wage jobs with better long-term opportunities.

The report, “Financing Economic Mobility: Adopting New Jersey’s Pay It Forward Model,” is being released Monday, December 20, as the debut publication of CUF’s new Economic Opportunity Lab series, which will examine innovative and inclusive economic policies from outside New York that can be replicated in the city. New York City’s unemployment rate is still more than double what it was in March 2020, before the economic shutdown, and there is growing attention on economic recovery and workforce development as the next city government takes office.

“The city’s incoming leaders will need to ensure that thousands more New Yorkers have access to high-quality job training programs that lead to well-paying careers,” said Eli Dvorkin, CUF’s editorial and policy director, in an email. “But today few of these programs are able to scale up to meet this demand, in large part due to limited public funding and narrow restrictions on how those dollars are spent.”

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Photo: Ed Reed/NYC Mayor’s Office