ALBANY, N.Y. (WTEN) – Gov. Cuomo and the Reimagine New York Commission 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.

As of Jan. 12, 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.

“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.”

The Pledge builds on the Governor’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 high school or post-secondary degree requirements for new hires, as appropriate
  • 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
  • Develop new relationships with New York State workforce development providers serving underserved communities, including SUNY, CUNY, 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 the employers, Cuomo will also take the following State actions through the $175 million Workforce Development Initiative:

  • 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.