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County Executives George Latimer of Westchester and MaryEllen Odell of Putnam invite businesses, partner agencies, community organizations, and educational leaders to participate in the Westchester-Putnam Workforce Development Board’s (WPWDB) 2021 Virtual Annual Meeting on Thursday, June 24, 2021 from 9 to 10 a.m.



This year’s meeting will kick off a Pathway Pledge modeled after the NYS Pathways Pledge, initiated by Governor Cuomo and the Reimagine NY Commission, to create more inclusive workforces and expand career pathway opportunities for those traditionally underserved.

Due to the pandemic, historic numbers of New Yorkers have been out of work, with lower and middle-income households particularly hard hit. Already existing inequalities were illuminated more glaringly as families struggled to provide the basics of life. Now, as the economy opens back up, there are a record number of job openings, but employers are struggling to fill the positions. There are many reasons for this, including lack of affordable childcare, access to transportation, skills gaps, and lack of training. These issues have created an “Untapped Workforce”—those who are ready to work, but have varying obstacles to becoming fully employed leaving a widening gap between the potential workforce and employers who need them to thrive.

Pathways Pledge is an action step that local stakeholders can take to tackle these problems. The Pledge asks public/private-sector employers and educational institutions to commit to taking steps towards reforming their talent recruitment, updating curriculum, implementing training, and changing promotion policies to foster more career path opportunities.

“We believe that public and private employers and educational institutions have critical roles to play in closing the gap we are seeing," Westchester County Executive George Latimer said. "We need to expand who we employ, invest in training and retraining, and work with workforce development partners to help build career paths and not “just jobs.” That's why we are kicking off this year’s annual meeting with a call to take the Pathways Pledge."

“Everyone is a stakeholder in the local economy, and we must all work together to solve these stubborn, systemic issues that impede the growth of our local business community,” added Putnam County Executive, MaryEllen Odell. “We are excited about the Pathways Pledge because organizations of every type and size can be involved. We can all take one small step towards change that will make our counties more inclusive, equitable and ultimately livable for all.”

“This past year there have been many conversations and meetings surrounding equity, employment & accessibility barriers, and the widening skills gap that contribute to the “untapped workforce.” We encourage everyone to attend our meeting to hear more details about the Pathway Pledge and also celebrate the Workforce Board’s 2020-21 successes and participate in our plans for the upcoming program year,” said WPWDB Executive Director, Thom Kleiner.

Register for the meeting

The Pathways Pledge
As stakeholders in the Westchester-Putnam Workforce Development Board Network, we pledge to each other to take action, to make a difference, to do our part to move the needle and be held accountable for our contributions:

Employers

  • Examine current job descriptions and update credential requirements.
  • Consider taking out 4-year degree minimum criteria for jobs that don't require it.
  • Write a training plan to expand existing workforce skill sets.
  • Create an employee recruitment plan and consider alternative employee recruitment methods, including one for those with disabilities.
  • Map out resources that can help an employee get back to work, e.g., childcare, transportation, etc.

Education Providers

  • Visit an employer’s worksite and ask about the specific skill sets needed in their sector.
  • Hold a career exploration job fair.
  • Provide students technical and trade educational information.
  • Introduce soft skills training in the curriculum.

Make the pledge

Background
The Pathways Pledge was created to encourage New York’s employers to open career pathways to more New Yorkers. New Yorkers without four-year degrees comprised nearly 60 percent of those who were laid off at the initial peak of the pandemic in April 2020. Employer-based pathways for social mobility are critical to address the shifting demands across sectors and occupations—trends that have been accelerated by COVID-19—and to ensure that the skills of the workforce evolve in tandem with economic opportunity. Given the trends we have highlighted, we recommend a Pathways Pledge that employers may join to commit to more equitable hiring, worker retraining, and helping low-income workers access higher education. Employers that take the Pathways Pledge can sign on to actions that include: creating new apprenticeship programs, hiring based on skills rather than credentials, and investing in employee retraining. By focusing on the “demand,” or employer, side of the hiring equation, the Pathways Pledge will help to create more good jobs for all New Yorkers.

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