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New York state initiates temporary jobs program for migrants to bolster workforce

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In a bid to address labor shortages and inject vitality into the state workforce, Governor Kathy Hochul’s administration has given the green light to a groundbreaking initiative, approving temporary government jobs for migrants. The move aims to streamline the process of employment for migrants once they obtain work authorization, emphasizing legal status.

At a press conference in Albany, Governor Hochul disclosed that the proposal was prompted by requests from various business sectors across the state, particularly from hotel and restaurant owners who expressed a pressing need for additional labor. The Civil Service Commission, on January 18, sanctioned the measure and is actively collaborating with state agencies to implement changes, including the removal of conventional application requirements such as proof of a high school diploma or English proficiency.

Governor Hochul revealed, “I have 10,000 openings in the New York State workforce. This is to give options to people, but to say we are working intensely to get work authorization — these are all legal people.” The focus is on 4,000 entry-level positions within state agencies, spanning clerical, administrative, technical support, equipment service and repair, and food services roles.

Officials stress that the initiative is not limited to migrants alone and is positioned as a “win-win” scenario, according to an internal memo from the Department of Civil Service obtained by NY1. The overarching objective is to expedite job placements and reduce dependency on public services.

Commissioner Timothy Hogues expressed concern about existing vacancies in the state’s Civil Service Commission during a state budget hearing, revealing that emergency temporary hiring measures had already been implemented. The state’s workforce has experienced a 10% decline over the past decade, exacerbated by the pandemic.

Mayor Eric Adams endorsed the program, expressing interest in utilizing migrants and asylum seekers to address the lifeguard shortage. The mayor emphasized the need to accelerate the federal government’s lengthy process for granting work approval to the approximately 67,000 individuals currently under the city’s care.

The initiative could potentially assist the state labor department in filling around 40,000 open jobs posted by private businesses, particularly those outside New York City. However, the challenge remains in convincing migrants to relocate to upstate areas, with the state’s resettlement program having relocated only 121 individuals outside the five boroughs. Another 364 individuals have been approved and are awaiting placement, according to City Hall. The comprehensive initiative aims not only to address immediate labor needs but also to foster inclusive economic growth and alleviate ongoing workforce challenges in the state.

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