LaGuardia’s new CUNY program is called Jobs Direct. LaGuardia already educates more than 5,000 students in workforce training programs each year. The difference now is that the program will provide students with scholarships covering 80% to 100% of tuition fees, which range from $1,500 to $3,500 depending on the program. It will offer paid internships, placement services, mentorship and practical advice with industry professionals, as well as a close relationship with partner employers.
Over the next year, Job Direct instructors and mentors will train approximately 100 students in one of two non-degree workforce training programs to become Certified Clinical Physician Assistants (average salary: $42 $560) or central services technicians (average salary: $65,780).
LaGuardia chose the two healthcare fields for training because they are high-paying work areas where more employees are needed, said Kenneth Adams, president of LaGuardia.
“Students who need the training of workforce development programs are often low-wage workers,” Adams said. “They are unemployed or beginners who want to earn more money, but they do not have the resources to pay for the training themselves.”
Several outside backers have poured their money into a $650,000 investment in Jobs Direct infrastructure, and the LaGuardia Foundation will pay all or part of the scholarships.
However, this only goes so far, which is where the state budget item comes in.
For the 2022-23 fiscal year, which began April 1, New York State added $150 million to its tuition assistance program for low-income students. TAP can now be used by those participating in approved workforce training programs. In the 2020-21 school year, the state spent $700 million on TAP, so this is a significant increase. Until now, a student who wanted to take a three-month course that could lead to a phlebotomy position had to pay the full cost of the training, while a classmate studying history could access help. financial.
Total employment in New York is down 5.5% from its February 2020 record high, according to the latest seasonally adjusted data from the state Department of Labor. In health care, labor shortages have reduced teams of clinical laboratory technologists and medical assistants in hospitals, the Center for Health Workforce Studies found.
Enrollment is down 10% since 2019 at State University of New York campuses and 22% at City University of New York community colleges. Based on her experience with 3,000 high school students in a mentorship program, more now want to enter the workforce without going to college, said Heather Wathington, CEO of iMentor.
According to school data, about half of full-time students who start at CUNY do not graduate within six years. Programs such as Jobs Direct leave these students with in-demand skills and give them a stepping stone to further training if they find they need a degree to progress in their job.
“These students are being overlooked,” said Alan Divack, program director at the Lucius N. Littauer Foundation, one of the funders. Divack said the new approach would make the school’s workforce programs “part of a journey” where students could “accumulate credentials” that can lead to a degree.
For longtime model and now mother-of-one Drielle Valeretto, enrolling in the Physician Assistant program is, she hopes, a way to find a job that will support her in pursuit of her goal. longer term to become a nurse.
Valeretto hopes to be certified by the fall. After that, with a paycheck, she said, “I can go back to nursing school in the fall semester, either at Borough of Manhattan Community College or LaGuardia, and get back on track to become a nurse. .”
LaGuardia’s Adams said he hopes to expand Jobs Direct’s financial aid and support framework to other non-degree programs, especially given the new state dollars.
“It’s also good news for our funders,” he said. “They can help us get started while we advocate for long-term programs.”