standard “Sector-Focused” Career Centers Yield More Jobs For Working Poor, Provide Higher Pay: Study

State Senator Kevin Parker and City Councilmember Jumaane Williams sponsored a job fair in July (Senator Kevin Parker's Office)

State Senator Kevin Parker and City Councilmember Jumaane Williams sponsored a job fair in July (Senator Kevin Parker’s Office)

Career centers for low-wage workers that focus on a particular sector of the economy have a better chance at helping job seekers as opposed to general centers with no such concentration, according to a new report from the New York City Center for Economic Opportunity (CEO).

The evaluation comes from Westat, a company specializing in research on employees, and shows that so-called “Sector Centers” focusing on particular economic industries like manufacturing, transportation, and healthcare produced higher employment rates, greater job stability, and substantially higher wages compared with traditional career centers. Participants increased their earnings by an average of $5,800 over the course of a year.

“Given the strong findings that support the sector-based approach, CEO will work with local and national partners to strategize on how to bring this approach to a larger scale as the Center continues to advance evidence-based employment and training strategies and other work supports to help the working poor,” said David S. Berman, CEO’s Director of Program Management and Policy, in a statement responding to the report. “Effective workforce strategies leading to increased employment opportunity and earnings, coupled with efforts to enhance job quality such as paid sick leave and the expansions of the Earned Income Tax Credit, are vital steps in helping address income inequalities.”

Research shows that more than 650,000 NYC residents are living in a household with at least one full-time year round worker in poverty. To combat this problem, CEO launched its first “sector center” in 2009 with the NYC Department of Small Business Services. An earlier report from Westat (from 2010) found positive impacts on employment and wages. The recently-released follow-up report released (which covers a longer timeframe and includes new Sector Centers) continues the trend of positive findings.

The Borough President took note of the new data that was made available.

“It is a basic priority for my administration to get Brooklynites back to work,” said Borough President Eric Adams. “Career centers that are tailored to particular industry sectors appear to have some level of success in getting job-seekers hired, retained and paid quality wages, and I am interested in exploring how Borough Hall can enhance these efforts.”

CEO’s Workforce1 Industrial and Transportation Career Center helps individuals to prepare for a job or advance their career in the manufacturing and transportation industries, offering training in commercial driving, inventory management, dispatcher, supervisory upgrades, and CNC machinery. A separate Workforce1 Healthcare Career Center helps individuals prepare for a clinical job or advance their clinical career in healthcare, with training for medical assistants, patient care technicians, pharmacy technicians, home health aides, paramedics, emergency medical technicians, dental assistants, dental hygienist upgrades, and NCLEX preparation for foreign-trained nurses.

Individuals who are unemployed or are making $19.23 an hour or less are eligible to apply for these career centers, and recruitment is ongoing. Those interested can apply on the Workforce1website.

More information about the positive impacts of Sector Centers can be obtained from the full report.