Legislative Commission on Skills Development
Career Education

Budget Update
April 2008

Assemblywoman Joan K. Christensen, Chair

NYS Seal

New York State Assembly
Employment & Training Budget Update - 2008

Dear Friend:

As the 2008 legislative session draws to an end, I wanted to take this opportunity to inform the community of significant appropriations in the enacted budget for fiscal year (FY) 2008-2009 (the State budget was passed on April 9, 2008). More specifically, I wanted to highlights some of the key budget appropriations that will enhance the State's workforce training and educational programs as well as help build a strong labor force that is technically skilled and competitive in the global economy.

While it is a priority every year that the State budget gets passed on time, it is far more important that the budget we pass meet the needs of the people who invest their trust in us. Recognizing that our most critical asset is our human capital, the Legislature in the recent budget supported appropriations that invested in the high quality job training opportunities needed to keep our citizens and businesses competitive. The Legislature in the 2008-09 budget continues its strong investment in education programs by appropriating: (i) $19 million for the Science and Technology Entry Program (STEP) and the Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program (C-STEP) which provides counseling, literacy, English-as-a-Second Language, and tutoring services to minority and economically disadvantaged secondary school students; (ii) $25 million for the Teachers of Tomorrow Program which provides a variety of incentives that encourage prospective teachers to teach in school districts with low performing schools and/or school districts experiencing teacher shortages; (iii) $10 million for the Math and Science Teaching Initiative Program which provides scholarship funding for students at the State's public or private colleges who commit to teaching math and science in NY public schools for 5 years; (iv) $672 million for the Boards of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES) Programs which provide shared educational programs (e.g., Career & Technical Education Programs - CTE, formerly know as vocational education) and services to school districts; and, (v) $96 million for the Employment Preparation Education Program which provides formula-based support for adult education programs serving adults without a high-school diploma.

With respect to workforce development funding, the Legislature appropriated: (i) $252 million in federal funds for the Workforce Investment Act Program (WIA) which provides employment and training services for individuals; (ii) $3.4 million in federal funds for the Trade Adjustment Assistance Program (TAA) which provides assistance to manufacturing workers for laid-off workers; (iii) $5.3 million for the Displaced Homemaker Program which works with adults who need assistance in becoming economically independent by providing employment and training services; and, (iv) $39 million for the Empire State Economic Development Fund (EDF) - Industry Training Program which provides funding to businesses seeking to upgrade incumbent workers skills or to train entry level dislocated workers.

As Chair of the Legislative Commission on Skills Development and Career Education, I believe that if the great State of New York is to continue to be competitive in a rapidly changing global economy, the State must continue to invest and develop innovative workforce strategies that address the essential need to continually upgrade the skills of our current workers. Today's job requirements are changing at a rapid pace and demands that workers learn new skills to keep up with new needs. Investing and improving incumbent employee skills is a prudent and wise investment for the State. As technology continues to drive changes in almost every industry sector, and as new emerging industries gain significance in the State's overall economy, the demand for a workforce that is technically skilled and innovative has grown. Occupational fields such as education, health care, and information technology are among New York's fastest growing sectors that require more skilled workers.

During this period of economic uncertainty, I firmly believe that the State must continue providing adequate funding to proven programs that provide employment and critical workforce training opportunities for individuals. Though Congress has consistently cut federal funding for programs and services offered under the Workforce Investment Act, the State with limited resources has made wise investments in our labor force, in our businesses, and our education system. Moreover, the 2008-09 budget provides the necessary funds needed to revitalize our economy and create opportunities for individuals to gain and upgrade skills that are vital for thousands of New Yorkers facing difficult economic transitions and for employers who must stay competitive in a constantly changing economy.

As we continue to confront the challenges that lay ahead of us, the State's workforce development system must continue to emphasize career pathways and lifelong learning as key essential ingredients to building a strong and flexible labor force. The U.S. Department of Labor estimates that the typical person will change careers six times during his or her lifetime. What this indicates is the need for a workforce that does not have one specific set of skills, but the ability to learn new skills as technology evolves into a greater part of our everyday lives. Lifelong learning is increasingly becoming a necessity both for workers who change jobs at a much higher rate than in the past, and employers who see the skill needs of their business change at a similarly unprecedented pace. The integration of programs such as continuing education GED and English-as-a-Second-Language (ESL), as well as the establishment of pathways from basic skills attainment to focused skills training, placement into jobs, and advancement up career ladder, will be the key to meeting the State's work challenges. Moreover, though the increased diversity of our workforce poses news challenges for the systems that educate and train workers the State's workforce development systems must: (i) continue to accommodate ethnic and cultural differences; (ii) provide for the needs of working families; and, (iii) address the gap in literacy and job skills among some immigrant populations. This will require continued investments in adult literacy and ESL programs as well as more opportunities for continuous learning in order to stay competitive in the global economy.

In spite of current revenue shortfalls, I believe that enacted budget continues to invest in our shared priorities, namely continued support for our educational, workforce and economic development systems. In these difficult economic times, the Legislature must continue to work hard to ensure that skills development and career education programs are meeting the needs of New York's workers, businesses, labor and educational communities. New York's ability to build a workforce that is responsive to the challenges and the demands of a global economy will be crucial for promoting our economic growth.

As always, if you have any concerns or questions please feel free to contact my District Office at (315) 449-9536 or the Legislative Commission on Skills Development and Career Education at (518) 455-4865.

Joan K. Christensen, Chair
Commission on Skills Development & Career Education

Click the above link to view the Budget Report for Fiscal Year 2008-2009

New York State Assembly
[ Welcome Page ] [ Committee Updates ]