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The 2000 Catalog of Workforce Preparation Programs contains information on 75 State and federally funded programs in 15 agencies, representing an investment in the workforce of over $1 billion. These programs provide education and training activities and services to employed and unemployed adults and youth. While some programs are administered directly by the State agencies, others provide grants for programs implemented through schools, colleges, community-based organizations, and professional associations.

New York State's workforce preparation programs can be categorized in several ways. One group of programs focuses on providing education and training to insure that new labor force entrants possess the skills demanded by employers. Programs which focus on economically disadvantaged individuals are designed to reduce economic dependency by providing them with the skills and education needed to successfully compete in the labor market. Several programs benefit those who are already employed. These programs aim to enhance the competitiveness of New York State's businesses by retraining and upgrading the skills of existing workers and improving productivity while retaining jobs. A fourth area of program activity facilitates the re-entry of previously employed workers into the labor force.

Employment Trends

From 1995 to 2000, New York's labor force expanded by more than half a million workers to more than nine million individuals.(1) Shifts in the composition of the labor force reflecting socio-demographic changes among participants have been documented throughout the decade. When comparing Current Population Survey data from 1990 and 2000, women now account for a greater percentage of the labor force — up from 43.9% to nearly 49% — although the rate of growth has slowed from that during the 1980s. It is also significant that the State's workforce continues to age. The percentage of workers in the labor force who are between the ages of 25 and 44 has declined from 53.3% in 1995 to 51.5% in 2000. Workers aged 45 and over make up a larger share of the workforce, increasing from 32.5% in 1995 to 34.5% in 2000.

There are changes in the workplace environment as well. Technological transformation and the global economy have altered workers' lives. Overall, the need for advanced levels of education and training is expected to greatly increase. A recent Bureau of Labor Statistics study finds that nationally, between 1998 and 2008, the number of jobs for college graduates is expected to grow nearly 28%, more than twice as fast as other jobs. Many jobs, however, that were considered non-college level by employers, are now classified as college level. "Education" upgrading has occurred in many occupations due to changes in job duties, business practices, or technology.(2) An average of more than 90,000 college graduates each year will continue to enter positions that do not require skills learned in a bachelor's degree program. While some of these graduates will choose to enter such occupations for personal reasons, others will work in non-college level jobs because they cannot match their skills and knowledge with college level positions.

Both labor force quantity and quality (as measured by the shortage of skilled workers) have emerged as critical issues here in New York. Employers publicly acknowledge that the condition of New York's workforce is a major concern. An inability to hire enough workers with the requisite skills could restrain the State's future economic growth.

In a recent survey of its members conducted by the Business Council of New York, Inc., employers remain very concerned about the shortages of skilled workers.(3) As technology continues to drive changes in almost every industry sector, and as new, emerging industries gain significance in the State's overall economy, demand for a workforce that is technically skilled will grow. The National Science Foundation in its report, The Supply of Information Technology Workers in the United States, finds that this is especially true in the information technology industry. Jobs associated with the design, development, implementation, support or management of computer-based information systems, particularly software applications and computer hardware, are distributed throughout virtually every sector of the State's economy and are among New York's fastest growing occupations.

An earlier Business Council report had concluded that almost 70% of business respondents acknowledged productivity in their companies has suffered because of employee skill gaps.(4) This "skills gap" — the mismatch between skills of the labor force and those required in jobs created by today's economy — is a barrier to job creation and economic expansion. Almost all employers stated that their existing workforce needed to obtain skills upgrading in one or more areas — with technology skills ranked first, at 84.5%. Of the nearly 240,000 degrees and certificates awarded by New York's post-secondary institutions between July 1, 1996 and June 30, 1997 (the latest data available), only 7,000 (or 3%) of the degrees and certificates were awarded in the fields of computer science and engineering.

Statewide, professional and technical and service occupations are projected to add the most jobs during 1997 and 2007 and are expected to grow at the most rapid rate.(5) Within the professional and technical category, most of the fastest-growing occupations are computer or health-related. Conversely, occupations classified as administrative support positions, operators, fabricators and laborers are projected to grow at the slowest rate during this period.

Occupations in the service, professional and technical, and administrative support categories are projected to have the most total annual openings between 1997-2007. Certain slow-growth occupations, such as administrative support, have a large number of annual openings because of the need to replace workers who retire or leave a job for other reasons.

Today's workers, whether new or experienced, must engage in a continuing process of developing their skills and abilities to perform effectively in changing work environments. Workers and employers need to be increasingly informed about available and emerging employment and training options in order to make decisions that will ensure both their short-and long-term success.


If you wish to obtain more information on any one of the entries in the Catalog, a contact person has been identified for each program. If you have any questions or would like additional information about the Catalog, please call the Commission at (518) 455-4865.

  1. Includes individuals who are unemployed and looking for work as well as those who are employed. All data is from the 1990, 1995 and March 2000 Current Population Surveys.
  2. U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, "The Outlook for College Graduates, 1998-2008," Occupational Outlook Quarterly, (Fall 2000).
  3. The Business Council of New York, Inc., "Compensation Data-New York 1999," (August 1999).
  4. Public Policy Forum, "The Comeback Trail: 1998," (May 1998).
  5. New York State Department of Labor, "Occupational Outlook, New York State," (February 2001).