Jobs Direct Initiative Aims to Put Students on the Fast Track to Employment

Generous Foundation Grants Make Extensive Support Services Available

New Program’s Initial Focus is on Healthcare

LONG ISLAND CITY, NY (June 2, 2022)––LaGuardia Community College President Kenneth Adams today unveiled an effort to put jobs-focused students on the fast track to well-paid positions in high-demand fields at a time when the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics is reporting that there are 1.9 job openings for every unemployed worker. The goal of the Jobs Direct initiative is to provide students the training and skills required for vacant positions that employers have been struggling to fill.

Like the acclaimed CUNY ASAP initiative after which the new program is modeled, Jobs Direct provides a variety of financial and academic supports to students, including scholarships covering between 80% and 100% of tuition.

“As a community college with the largest workforce development department within CUNY, LaGuardia is uniquely positioned to provide the upskilling badly needed in the workforce, particularly among the 750,000 working-age New York City residents who have some college but no degree or post-secondary credential,” said President Adams. “Forty years ago, two-thirds of jobs were open to those with no post-secondary education; today, two-thirds of jobs require some post-secondary education. It is critical to the career prospects of those who were most impacted by COVID that we provide workforce training that is affordable, accessible and aligned with the latest trends in the job market.”

The initial focus of Jobs Direct is on two certificate programs in healthcare: certified clinical medical assistant and central service technician. The average salary of a central service technician in New York City is $65,780. Jobs in the field are projected to grow by 15%. The average salary of a certified clinical medical assistant (CCMA) in the five boroughs is $42,560. Employment in the field is projected to grow by 40%.

Jobs Direct will expand in the coming weeks and months to include additional certificate training programs. The initiative is designed to have students employed within six months of completing their training, which takes between five and six months.

Drielle Valeretto, a model for 16 years before becoming a mother in 2018, is studying in the Jobs Direct CCMA program. Her modeling career brought her to New York from her native Brazil in 2005. A single mother who is presently unemployed, Valeretto explains that, “I applied for the (Jobs Direct) scholarship because I could not afford tuition and childcare.”

Her goal is to work as a CCMA and resume her studies to become a nurse. She completed a semester of nursing at Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC).

“I want to complete the CCMA program, get certified and be working by the summer,” said Valeretto. “Then I will be able to return to nursing school in the fall semester, either at BMCC or LaGuardia, and get back on track to becoming a nurse.”

New York city lost a larger share of jobs to the Covid-19 pandemic than any other city in the country—nearly 12%, compared with 4% nationwide—and its recovery is proceeding more slowly. The country has recovered 95% of the jobs lost in the pandemic recession, while the city has regained less than 75%.

With the city’s unemployment rate today standing at almost twice the national average—6.5% compared to 3.6%—at least part of the problem is attributed to a “skills mismatch.” That is, people looking for jobs do not have the training and experience needed for vacant positions that employers are having a hard time filling.

Community colleges are in a position to help bridge this gap by providing more job-focused education for mid-career adults and traditional college-age students, according to Tamar Jacoby, President and CEO of Opportunity America, a nonprofit working to promote economic mobility that recently published Training Tomorrow’s Workers: Next Steps for New York Community Colleges . Jacoby is a consultant on the Jobs Direct initiative.

Jobs Direct students receive scholarships covering 80% to 100% of tuition, depending on income. Other core elements of Jobs Direct include paid internships; job placement services; intensive advisement by professionals with industry work experience; program requirements co-designed with employer partners; and an emphasis on employability skills and soft skills, such as critical thinking and problem solving.

The impact of these kinds of comprehensive supports is evident in the thoroughly researched and documented success of CUNY ASAP. CUNY ASAP, which aims to graduate at least 50 percent of community college students within three years, has more than doubled timely associate degree completion rates for participants. A national model replicated across the country, CUNY ASAP received the distinguished 2020 Innovations in American Government Award from the Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.

Jobs Direct is managed by the college’s Adult and Continuing Education division, the largest in the CUNY system. The new program is designed to have students employed within six months of completing their training, which takes between five and six months. The college expects that at least 85% of students will complete the Jobs Direct program and that 75% of completers will be employed within six months.

Funding to launch Jobs Direct was generously provided by the Steven & Alexandra Cohen Foundation; Siegel Family Endowment; Lucius N. Littauer Foundation; Here to Here; Amazon; Pinkerton Foundation; and TD Charitable Foundation.

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LaGuardia Community College (LAGCC), located in Long Island City, Queens, educates thousands of New Yorkers annually through degree, certificate, and continuing education programs . LaGuardia is a national voice on behalf of community colleges, where half of all U.S. college students study. Part of the City University of New York (CUNY), the College reflects the legacy of our namesake, Fiorello H. LaGuardia, the former NYC mayor beloved for his championing the underserved. Since our doors opened in 1971, our programs regularly become national models for pushing boundaries to give people of all backgrounds access to a high quality, affordable college education.


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