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New York City Launches $33M Private-Sector Apprenticeship

Mayor Eric Adams will spend the city money to connect 3,000 high school students with multiyear, paid apprenticeships at large finance and tech firms at a time when 8.3 percent of city government jobs are vacant.

New York City m
Mayor Eric Adams speaking during a press conference announcing the reopening and conversion of the George Motchan Detention Center on Rikers Island, Bronx, New York, Wednesday, June 22, 2022.
(Shawn Inglima for New York Daily News)
(TNS) — Mayor Adams joined business leaders Monday, Sept. 12, to roll out an apprenticeship program meant to serve as a pipeline for public school students to enter the private sector — just as city officials are issuing a clarion call about severe staff shortages in the public workforce ranks.

Speaking at JPMorgan Chase’s headquarters in Midtown, Adams said it’s been a long time coming to launch the program, which will connect 3,000 high school students with multiyear paid apprenticeships at some of the city’s largest finance and technology firms.

“These young people have been betrayed for so long, and this city has produced broken babies that turn into broken children that run into a broken system and became broken adults,” said Adams, who was joined by city Schools Chancellor David Banks, JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon and other business and nonprofit leaders.

Adams, who has embraced a pro-business rhetoric since taking office in January, also appeared to take a swipe at his predecessor, ex-Mayor Bill de Blasio, who was famously standoffish with New York’s finance titans.

“We had the audacity to ignore the industries that knew how to turn around companies,” he said. “How the hell do you have leaders of our city not sitting down with our industry leaders and saying, ‘We have to do this together?’ ”

According to City Hall, 500 students are expected to start apprenticeships as part of the new program by the end of 2023, earning between $15 and $25 an hour at an entry level. The other 2,500 students expected to benefit will follow in coming years, and the primary goal is for them to get an early foot in the door on a career, Banks said.

“We are setting a bold goal: Every student — not some, not most — every student will graduate on a path to long-term economic security by the time they leave high school,” the chancellor said.

Companies participating in the effort — which will be boosted by $33 million in city spending — include JPMorgan Chase, Amazon, Accenture, MasterCard, Ernst & Young and Brooklyn Navy Yard, a City Hall official said.

The apprenticeship push comes on the heels of members of the Adams administration revealing in testimony before the City Council last week that 8.3 percent of the city government’s job posts are vacant — a rate that’s nearly six times higher than it was prepandemic.

Asked at Monday’s news conference what he’s doing to attract more people to public service, Adams didn’t list any particular efforts underway — except for his adamant push to roll back all remote work options at city agencies.

“I am not just the chorus about returning to work, I wrote the song. It’s time to get back to work,” he said.

But Council members and other officials at Friday’s hearing made the case that the city is struggling to retain and attract talent because of Adams’ insistence on not offering remote options. Popularized during the pandemic, remote work has become a norm in some sectors, and public service employees are likely to seek out other opportunities if they are prohibited from doing at least part of their jobs from home, some at the hearing said.

“One of the essential components in retaining our municipal workforce is to offer this level of flexibility now and beyond the pandemic,” city Public Advocate Jumaane Williams testified.

Adams dismissed that line of thinking Monday and contended that it would be unfair to offer remote options, as only some city workers would be able to take advantage of it.

“We’re saying to the highest-income earners, ‘You can stay home,’ and to the lowest-income earners, ‘You must go to work every day to stock our shelves, to deliver our food and make sure that our trains are driven,’ ” he said. “Not acceptable, not going to happen while I’m the mayor.”

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