Inclusive Labor Force Growth in the Capital Region
With the Capital Region’s unemployment rate dipping below 4 percent this spring and summer, the region’s five-year economic development plan, Capital 20.20, is looking more prescient in its emphasis on reaching out to hard-to-reach populations.
For the region’s economy to continue to grow, it is imperative for the region’s educational, industry and governmental partners to expand talent pipelines so they reach these vulnerable communities, which include individuals without access to any vehicle or without a high school diploma as well as those who work part-time, are single parents or are homeless. These are the vulnerable groups targeted by Capital 20.20 to drive not only “catalyzing economic growth” but also “inclusive growth.”
Over the last five years, the eight-county region has seen the ranks of some of these groups decline. For example, between 2012 and 2016, the region’s number of single parent households1 declined by 8.5 percent to 33,195 and the number of people with no access to a vehicle was down 3.7 percent to 20,763. During the five-year period ending in 2017, however, the number of homeless individuals2 in the region increased by 1.3 percent to 3,678.
Hard-to-Reach Populations in Peer Regions
Compared to other similarly sized and populated peer economic regions across the country, the Capital Region has:
• A low concentration of adults without a high school degree (4 percent);
• A high concentration of adults without access to a vehicle (4 percent); and
• An average concentration of single-parent households (32.2 percent of households with own children) and part-time workers (23.8 percent).
Having a high concentration of hard-to-reach populations is not necessarily a barrier to a low unemployment rate. For example, at 2.9 percent, the Madison-Janesville-Sevierville combined statistical area (CSA) had the 11-region peer group’s lowest unemployment as of June 2018. This CSA had the lowest concentration of adults without a high school diploma (6.7 percent) and second lowest concentration of single-parent households (30.3 percent). However, it also had the second highest concentration of part-time workers (26.3 percent) and third highest concentration of adults with no access to a vehicle.
Workforce Initiatives for Inclusive Growth
Capital 20.20 laid out several strategies to help workers in hard-to-reach groups enter or advance in the labor force. The Gateway strategy called for expansion and modernization of Albany’s seaports and the expansion of the region’s fulfillment hub infrastructure. These initiatives provide opportunities “to revitalize communities by training and hiring local populations for jobs in distribution and logistics (e.g., drivers, warehouse associates, forklift operators, dock workers), including those who are traditionally hard-to-place.”
Capital 20.20’s Talent strategy also called for the creation of new and expansion of existing training programs that target hard-to-reach groups. Examples of new programs include the following:
• Manufacturing Boot Camp: Entry-level manufacturing skills training at Hudson Valley Community College (HVCC). Target participants include, but are not limited to, unemployed and underemployed workers from low- to moderate-income households.
• Certified Production Technician Program: Advanced manufacturing skills training at Schenectady County Community College (SCCC). Target participants include, but are not limited to, unemployed and underemployed workers from low- to moderate-income households.
• Manufacturing Intermediary Apprenticeship Program: An apprenticeship program under which CEG, on behalf of participating manufacturers, manages apprenticeship records and reports and organize apprentices’ outside coursework.
• Health Care Apprenticeship Program: A health care apprenticeship program under which SCCC facilitates by partnerships between New York State Department of Labor and potential employer sponsors in healthcare. Target participants include, but are not limited to, disadvantaged youths and low-income individuals and families receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF).
• JumpStart: Under this KeyBank Business Boost and Build program, powered by JumpStart, CEG will hold and sponsor events and workshops for minority- and women-owned business enterprises (MWBEs) and disadvantaged small businesses and provide technical assistance to them. Loans through program partners are also available to these target businesses.
• The ADDY: The Adeline Graham Theatrical Training and Innovation Center (The ADDY) at Proctors provides new after school and weekend programs focused on theatre technology and performance skills. Target participants include, but are not limited to, diverse and hard-to-place workers and students.
• Employee Resource Network (ERN): Schenectady Works, a division of the City Mission of Schenectady, operates several ERNs, whose “success coaches” work with entry-level and disadvantaged populations to reduce turnover costs, improve performance and create a better working culture. In 2017, ERN success coaches saw more than 2,500 employees.
1 Single-parent households from households with own children under 18. Five-year estimates.
2 Point-in-time homeless data from U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Data for Capital Region and Hamilton County.
3 No high school diploma, adults 18 years and older. Five-year estimates
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