The Board of Aldermen unanimously voted to approve the creation of a “jobs pipeline” Tuesday night.
Aldermen voted in their biweekly meeting by a 25–0 margin to create New Haven Works, a coordinating agency that will partner with employers in the city to help connect local residents with jobs. The emphasis of the new program will be on preparing people for jobs in industries considered to be growing in New Haven. The pipeline, the culmination of eight months of board discussion and deliberation, is the most tangible achievement of the new aldermen to date.
Ward 26 Alderman Sergio Rodriguez, chairman of the human services committee, said the underemployed and jobless of New Haven are struggling to put a dent in a local unemployment rate of 11.6 percent — more than 3 percent more than the nationwide rate of 8.2 percent. Describing the jobs pipeline as a “light at the end of the tunnel,” Rodriguez said that the pipeline will be “one of the most significant and beneficial programs ever for the betterment of New Haven residents.”
Participants in the program will be recruited through community outreach and invited to attend an orientation session, where they will fill out a registration form and learn about the jobs opportunities available. Once registered, each participant in the jobs pipeline will be placed with a partner employer where they will receive on-the-job training.
The idea for a jobs pipeline originated with a slate of labor-backed aldermanic candidates who were elected to the board last November. Upon their inauguration, the new board created a jobs pipeline working group, which was supported by Mayor John DeStefano Jr. in his February State of the City address.
The jobs pipeline working group formally began its work in March — reviewing an array of local jobs programs and employers — and submitted a proposal to the board’s human services committee, which approved the suggestions in a meeting last week. The report found that New Haven did not need any new jobs programs but instead would benefit most from an organization to better prepare and connect city residents with existing jobs openings.
Ward 9 Alderwoman Jessica Holmes said that the mandate of New Haven Works would be to recruit, screen and train city residents for work in growing industries, while not duplicating existing services. New Haven Works, aldermen said, would act more as a supervising agency to coordinate all the unemployment programs administered by the city.
The report recommended a goal of finding and filling 1,000 jobs in the next four years, a target it says is comparable to existing programs. According to municipal estimates, there are 6,400 unemployed people in New Haven, and 24,400 in the Greater New Haven labor market.
The working group recommended New Haven Works be supported by an individual fund overseen by an independent board of directors, who would be selected from stakeholders including unions, the city administration, local employers and the Board of Aldermen, among others. The report by the jobs pipeline working group does not, however, specify exactly how the board of directors will be selected.
“The report is very compelling. It is a plan that makes a lot of sense and has the potential to create a lot of change,” said Ward 1 Democratic Committee co-chair Ben Crosby ’14, who led several Yale students to City Hall Tuesday night in support of the program’s passage. “The challenge before all of us is to make sure that this actually happens, that the folks who have agreed to take part actually take part in ways that they said they would.”
According to the report, the city can expect to spend between $2,000 and $4,000 for every job added.