Strengthening Workforce Preparation

A City University of New York task force of business leaders appointed by Chancellor Matthew Goldstein recently presented a report entitled “Jobs for New York’s Future” providing recommendations on how the University could enhance its already extensive effort at preparing a competitive workforce and through higher education, enable the city to sustain its global leadership.

CUNY Jobs Task Force Presents “Jobs for New York’s Future,” A Workforce Preparation Report

“We know that a number of CUNY partnerships and programs with industry already address the linkages” suggested by panel members and those they interviewed, wrote task force chair Frederick Schaffer, general counsel and senior vice chancellor for legal affairs, in the report’s cover letter. “A comprehensive effort to identify and examine CUNY’s best practices, as well as those of institutions across the country, will be a critical first step toward the goal of refining and expanding such activities and ensuring their effectiveness in preparing students for the rapidly changing 21st century workplace.”

Noting that Chancellor Goldstein has already initiated such conversations, he added: “The University should further its consultations with trustees, presidents, faculty, disciplinary councils, students, alumni, governance and advisory groups, the Business Leadership Council, and other constituencies to identify ways this study can be used to inform program improvements.”

“The Jobs Task Force provides both a conceptual framework and specific approaches to enhance the University’s ability to equip students for the city’s labor market,” Chancellor Goldstein said. “With The City University granting the majority of bachelor’s degrees in the city and 80 percent of our degree recipients remaining here after graduation, CUNY has a huge impact on the city’s economic life. As we work with our college communities to implement these recommendations, we will not only help our students succeed, but also strengthen New York City’s capacity for a vibrant future.”

The CUNY Jobs Task Force included top executives from firms like Marsh & McLennan, JP Morgan Chase, TIAA-CREF, Ogilvy & Mather and Empire BlueCross BlueShield. The 65-page report is at

Examples of workforce preparation initiatives include:

University projects including the $20.8 million New York Simulation Center for Health Sciences, launched last September in partnership with NYU Langone Medical Center; CUNY’s nearly $20 million Career PATH Program to train out-of-work, career-changing adults; and many professional and certificate programs.

CUNY job-preparation efforts range from Kingsborough Community College’s Virtual Enterprise Program to internships, workshops and training at Baruch College’s STARR Career Development Center. Highlights are at the end of this article.

Taking a forward-looking, conceptual approach, the panel examined key drivers and emerging trends in five industries that factor strongly in the city’s role as a global marketplace. Task force members interviewed industry experts, including panel members, themselves; analyzed labor market information; and examined industry reports and trade organization websites. They looked for increasingly important skills and made broad and industry-specific suggestions about how CUNY could best prepare students for an increasingly competitive workplace.

The target industries, the panel found, perceived labor supply shortages primarily in terms of skills, not occupations, and sought employees with “T-shaped skills” — that is, immersion in one field and broad knowledge across others. They cited creativity, curiosity and an understanding of the world provided by a well-rounded liberal education; written and oral communication skills; analytical skills to grasp and utilize increasing amounts of data; business process skills like project management; learning agility, such as the ability to change course and learn on the job; cultural competence to best serve diverse customers in the United States and abroad; and previous work experience.

Industry-specific findings include:

• Finance, insurance, and accounting. Consolidation/globalization due to mergers and acquisitions and the 2008 financial downturn is a key industry driver. Employment opportunities have decreased (even as wages increased), but demand for workers in risk management and those with bilingual skills is expected to grow.

• Health care. The main drivers are an aging population, the size of the Medicaid and Medicare population, technology changes, and regulatory and policy changes that promote disease prevention and the management of chronic conditions, as well as cost reductions. Workforce shortages are anticipated for several occupations and will be affected by the shift from hospitals to ambulatory care settings.

• Higher education. Employment has grown, in part because economic conditions have led more people to enroll in colleges and universities for retraining and credentialing. Workforce needs will be driven by constrained resources, government demands for accountability and an increasingly diverse student body.

• Information technology (IT). The speed of technological advancements and the proliferation of information generated across industries have greatly increased the need for workers with IT and related analytical skills, all across the economy. There is a shortage of programmers and developers, particularly those without special visa needs, and a need for more computer science graduates.

• Media and advertising. The huge impact of digital technology and social networking, as well as considerable consolidation within several segments of this cluster, has led to widespread operational shifts. Employment has declined in some parts of the industry, notably publishing, and new workers must increasingly possess technological fluency, a facility with analytics and strong communication skills.

The task force recommendations for CUNY colleges include:

• Building deeper relations with industry, including inviting industry input, from student internships to faculty/staff swapping, and making it easier for industry to access CUNY.

• Providing career guidance by assisting students in exploring interests, aptitudes and career pathways, as well as job-search skills training, including résumé preparation, interview skills and how to research industries and companies of interest.

• Facilitating work experience via internships and summer employment opportunities.

• Simulating workplace conditions so students can acquire business skills, such as budgeting, project planning and management, and estimating timelines.

Gertrude Villegas, a graduate of City Tech's Access for Women electrical technician training program, works as an outside plant technician for Cablevision.

Joining Chair Frederick Shaffer on the CUNY Jobs Task Force were: Steve Anderman, chief operating officer and chief information officer, Bronx Lebanon Hospital Center; Orlando Ashford, chief HR officer & communications officer, Marsh & McLennan Companies; Frank Bisignano, chief administrative officer and head of home lending, JP Morgan Chase & Company; Ted Brown, Ph.D., professor and executive officer, Computer Science Department, executive director, CUNY Institute for Software Design and Development, CUNY Graduate Center; Roger Ferguson, president and chief executive officer, TIAA-CREF; Maria Gotsch, president and chief executive officer, New York City Investment Fund; Carol Schuster, former worldwide managing director, global brand management, Ogilvy & Mather; Mark Wagar, president and chief executive officer, Empire BlueCross BlueShield; Robert Walsh, commissioner, New York City Department of Small Business Services.


New York Simulation Center for Health Sciences — CUNY joined NYU Langone Medical Center to create this facility in Manhattan’s Bellevue Hospital Center built with $20.8 million in state and city funds. Nursing students at Borough of Manhattan Community College and others learn in its disaster-training room, ICU, operating rooms, trauma rooms and others — all equipped with cameras to record training sessions for students to review.

CUNY’s Career PATH Program

Out-of-work career-changing adults can retool for today’s job market via a nearly $20-million federal grant to a University consortium of six community and two comprehensive colleges. The program, administered by the U.S. Department of Labor in coordination with the U.S. Department of Education, is the only one in New York State and one of just 32 nationwide.

Professional and Certificate Programs

CUNY colleges offer a range of professional credentials and certificates in high-demand fields, including health care, business, information technology, real estate and construction for various positions including community health workers and computer network managers.

Annual University-wide Big Apple Job Fair

About 70 major employers participated in the 2012 Big Apple Job Fair, which included workshops on social media, on converting an internship into a full-time job and on international careers.

Virtual Enterprise Program, Kingsborough Community College

Students design and run virtual businesses in tandem with students in 20 countries. More than 1,500 of these international practice firms engage in commerce with each other. Each graduating class hands its companies over to the next crop of students, who inherit whatever assets, liabilities, opportunities or problems exist at the businesses — which range from a software company to a full-service hotel and an international airline.

Magner Center for Career Development and Internships

Brooklyn College

Through partnerships with employers, faculty and staff, students receive career counseling, alumni mentoring, internships, interview preparation and career assessments.

STARR Career Development Center

Baruch College

This program includes a year-long financial leadership program for students preparing for front-office jobs in finance; an online career service-management system that posts more than 9,000 jobs and internships; a stipend for unpaid internships; yearly career-preparation workshops for undergraduates; and five annual career fairs. A website includes models of résumés, interview questions and videos. An On-Campus Recruiting Workshop covers everything from job interviews to salary negotiation, plus mentoring.

Access for Women

New York City College of Technology

For women interested in non-traditional technical fields, especially hard-hat fields, Access for Women provides classes, workshops, basic skills, math and vocational training. The Hospitality Management Hiring Fair, held most semesters, draws participants from New York City’s leading restaurants and hotels.

BALA (Business and Liberal Arts)

Lehman College

In this rigorous interdisciplinary minor, students majoring in the arts and sciences develop additional skills through courses and exposure to a variety of business fields.

Allied Health Career Pipeline Program

Hostos Community College

This enhanced training and internship program trains students under a $7.4 million Health Profession Opportunity Grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children & Families. Over five years it will train more than 900 low-income individuals to become community health workers, patient care technicians, pharmacy technicians and certified nurse assistants.