DiNapoli: New York’s workforce development programs are in state of disarray


ALBANY — Comptroller Tom DiNapoli on Thursday took aim at the state Department of Labor for overseeing what was described as an essentially dysfunctional but sprawling workforce development program that is supposed to train New Yorkers for the jobs of today and tomorrow.

 “Workforce development is crucial to help New York recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, but the programs across the state lack leadership and coordination,” DiNapoli said. “As the lead agency in workforce development, the Department of Labor needs to pay closer attention to what is needed to better manage these programs and get our state back to work. Employment recovery in New York is lagging behind the rest of the country and these programs are critical for helping New Yorkers find well-paying jobs and businesses find qualified employees.”

DiNapoli’s prepared remarks came with the release of an audit of the state’s workforce development programs.

Auditors found that New York has more than 500 such programs offered by nearly two dozen state agencies and public authorities. Despite that size, there is no functioning governing body to coordinate the programs and ensure they are meeting the needs of people.

The audit noted that post-COVID-19 employment recovery in New York is lagging behind the rest of the country.

Under the federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, which provides funds, states are required to have a governing body for all their training programs.

In New York, this is the State Workforce Investment Board or SWIB.

But the audit found that the SWIB has been inactive for five years, last meeting in January 2017.

Moreover, a roster from the Department of Labor in September 2021 listed 40 members, but the term dates for 30 of the 40 members expired between February 2014 and August 2017.

The SWIB is also supposed to create four-year plans to improve New York’s workforce development system, including strategies for effective outreach and improved access.

The Department of Labor’s most recent plan was submitted in March 2020 and has not yet been approved at the federal level.
Furthermore, comptroller auditors said that officials declined to provide a copy of the plan and initially said they did not know why its approval was delayed. Later, in response to the audit’s preliminary findings, officials said the plan was on hold due to the lack of a functioning SWIB.

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