Working to Enhance the City

October 3, 2012 | Salute to Scholars, The University

This issue of Salute to Scholars offers wonderful examples of the University’s multifaceted teaching, research and service efforts aimed at advancing New York City’s well-being.  Enhancing the city we serve is the embodiment of the CUNY mission.  As our most recent Master Plan notes, among CUNY’s core values is a “dedication to the needs of the University’s urban setting.”

In keeping with that core value, in May the University released “Jobs for New York’s Future,” a report of findings and recommendations from the CUNY Jobs Task Force I assembled in fall 2011 (www.cuny.edu/jobstaskforce).  With record numbers of students seeking a CUNY education, and an economy still shaken by a deep recession, it is critical that the University closely monitor the local labor market and remain responsive to its evolving needs.

Focusing on five key industry clusters in New York City — finance, insurance and accounting; health care; higher education; information technology; and media and advertising — the task force examined drivers and emerging trends in the industries, the workforce skills in demand, and employers’ recommendations to colleges and universities to enhance students’ preparation for a competitive workplace.  The task force’s research included interviews with industry experts, including the members of the task force themselves, analysis of labor market information, and examination of industry reports.  (Some of the findings are outlined in my recent editorial in Crain’s New York Business: www.crainsnewyork.com.)

“Jobs for New York’s Future” recommends a number of actions that CUNY and other universities might take to help graduates succeed in their fields, including reinforcing meaningful links to industry and business, conducting regular industry scans, monitoring the experience of recent graduates, and expanding student career guidance and job-search skills training.

Following discussions about the task force’s work with groups such as the Council of Presidents and the CUNY Business Leadership Council, the University is taking steps to respond to the report’s findings.

Two important actions are already under way.  First, an Office of Workforce Partnerships is being developed in the University’s Workforce Development Division.  The office will provide a central point of contact for employers wishing to engage with CUNY colleges and help the University stay current with industry changes across the city.

Second, the New York City Labor Market Information Service (NYC LMIS) will join the CUNY Office of Academic Affairs to strengthen the University’s ability to monitor the local labor market.  Over the last several years, the NYC LMIS has become an invaluable resource to the city, helping policymakers and organizations make informed decisions about programming.  Its research includes annual reports on the state of the city’s workforce system and a recent green jobs study.  A closer link with the University will enable the NYC LMIS to provide labor market data, reports and analysis to guide CUNY’s workforce preparation efforts.

The University plays an essential role in the New York City labor market: it serves the majority of undergraduates in New York City, and 80 percent of its bachelor’s recipients remain in the city after graduation.  Just as we must ensure that graduates acquire the skills they need for a lifetime of learning, so must we understand the industries and economy that will shape their personal and professional lives.

Matthew Goldstein, Chancellor