January 12, 2021
Albany, NY

Governor Cuomo Announces Proposal to Create a Pathways Pledge for New York State Employers as Part of 2021 State of the State

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Governor Cuomo Announces Proposal to Create a Pathways Pledge for New York State Employers as Part of 2021 State of the State
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Companies Would Pledge to Create More Inclusive Workforces and Provide More Workforce Development Opportunities

Builds on Governor Cuomo's Historic $175 Million Workforce Development Initiative

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the blue-ribbon Reimagine New York Commission today announced a proposal to create a Pathways Pledge for New York State employers to create more inclusive workforces and provide more workforce development opportunities as part of the 2021 State of the State. The pledge commits both public and private-sector employers to reforming their talent recruitment, investment, and promotion policies to foster more equitable workforces after the COVID-19 pandemic.

"COVID-19 has exacerbated existing inequalities across our society, and the economy is no exception. Historic numbers of New Yorkers are out of work, and lower and middle-income households are being hit the hardest. Public and private employers have critical roles to play closing that gap," Governor Cuomo said. "We need to expand who they employ, invest in training and retraining and work with workforce development partners to get jobs to the jobless. That's why we are asking employers across the state to take the Pathways Pledge to help provide opportunity to all New Yorkers, not just those who are already well off."

To date, 16 companies have made the pledge, affecting over 120,000 workers in New York, and the state aims to triple those commitments in the next year. The Pledge builds on Governor Cuomo's progress advancing workforce development in New York State, including the $175 million Workforce Development Initiative, the first Governor's Office of Workforce Development, and ensuring that a majority of New York State civil service positions hire based on skills, not degrees.

Participating employers will agree to report quarterly on their progress in implementing their Pledge commitments. They will agree to take actions including:

  • Invest in current worker retraining or skills development for promotions and/or higher wages, including providing college financial support or supporting new skills training on the job;
  • Create new apprenticeship programs to provide pathways for underrepresented populations;
  • Commit to exploring additional workforce supports for low-income workers or trainees, e.g., childcare and transportation subsidies;
  • Commit to exploring skills-based hiring models by removing, as appropriate, high school or post-secondary degree requirements for new hires;
  • Scale relationships with existing nontraditional workforce development partners by providing funding and/or expanded staff volunteer time to facilitate recruiting, interviews, and mentorship opportunities for new prospective employees; and/or
  • Develop new relationships with New York State workforce development providers serving underserved communities, including State University of New York, City University of New York, Boards of Cooperative Educational Services, and/or nontraditional workforce development organizations.

The 16 founding employers participating in the Pathways Pledge are IBM, Chobani, Con Edison, Google, JPMorgan Chase, Mastercard, AIG, Memorial Sloan Kettering, Montefiore, Globalfoundries, TEKsystems, Loretto, Cognizant, Clarkson University, Berkeley College, and Athenex.

In addition to new commitments from New York's leading employers, Governor Cuomo will also take the following State actions through his $175 million Workforce Development Initiative, inspired by the work of the Reimagine New York Commission. The COVID-19 health emergency has pushed a tremendous number of New Yorkers out of work. The crisis has also magnified inequalities, with lower- and middle-income households experiencing the greatest economic losses. The following actions will seek to expand job pathways and opportunities:

  • Launch NYS Workforce Scholarships to allow low-income New Yorkers to attend high-quality training programs free-of-cost to gain skills leading to well-paid jobs. This initiative builds on Governor Cuomo's leadership to make college free for middle class New York families by creating non-college pathways vital to help New Yorkers move up the ladder.
  • Expand SUNY For All Free Online Training so New Yorkers can enroll in additional employment certification programs for quality jobs in high-demand areas like IT, cyber, and healthcare, building on the success of hybrid learning models.
  • Expand the Employment Training Incentive Program retraining tax credit to further incentivize New York businesses to train and upskill employees and interns. This tax incentive will support training and wraparound services to help employees who are furloughed or out-of-work due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This will also provide internship opportunities to young New Yorkers.

Reimagine New York Commission Working Group Co-Chair and Former IBM Chair, President and CEO Ginni Rometty said, "Jump-starting New York's economic recovery depends on creating new career opportunities for those hit hardest by the pandemic, especially New Yorkers without a college degree. That's why I'm encouraging all New York companies to adopt the Pathways Pledge, which commits employers to hire people based on their skills, not just their degrees. The pledge also calls for retraining programs to help workers build the skills that matter most in a fast-changing digital economy. Committing to the Pathways Pledge is a way for companies to expand opportunity, make the workforce more inclusive, and put skills first in rebuilding New York's economy."

Reimagine New York Commission Working Group Co-Chair and Former Infor Chairman and CEO Charles Phillips said, "In a rapidly evolving digital economy, it is now more important than ever for New Yorkers to be able to acquire new skills. Having spent my career in the technology industry, I have seen first-hand how innovation can require individuals to acquire new skills to succeed in the workplace. We must provide New Yorkers with increased access to job training and the financial support needed to pursue it; we must ensure that training programs in the state are high-quality and equip workers to succeed in their careers; and we must help workers to access the digital tools required to both receive training and participate in the workplace. The Reimagine New York Commission has advanced new policies and programs designed to help New Yorkers in each of these ways."

Reimagine New York Commission Member and Per Scholas President and CEO Plinio Ayala said, "Per Scholas has been so honored and excited to participate in the Reimagine New York Commission to help New York build a successful economic recovery plan following the COVID-19 pandemic. We are encouraged by so many New York companies that are making a Pathways Pledge commitment to a more equitable and diverse workforce through worker upskilling and pre-employment training to ensure our labor force is prepared for in-demand jobs."

Reimagine New York Commission Member and Founder and CEO of Chobani Hamdi Ulukaya said, "As a founding member of the Pathways Pledge, Chobani has been creating opportunities for all New Yorkers no matter where they come from or their experience. The promises we're making today formalize an important mission—not just for this state but for the country. We must continue to do everything we can to break down the barriers to achieving the American Dream."

Contact the Governor's Press Office

Contact us by phone:

Albany: (518) 474 - 8418
New York City: (212) 681 - 4640

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