People over everything. That is the theme of Council Speaker Adrienne Adams (D-Jamaica) State of the City address, which outlines her vision to invest in the Big Apple’s workforce and to provide economic mobility for all New Yorkers.
One particular initiative that Adams would like to expand via Council support and funding is a vocational training program at the Renaissance Technical Institute.
Currently located in East Harlem, the nonprofit group provides free vocational training in carpentry, plumbing, solar panel installation and security to disaffected youth, at-risk students and people who are justice involved between the ages of 17 and up, according to RTI’s website.
Over the course of seven years, RTI has graduated 435 students from the training program. Upon graduation, people have pursued careers as electricians, plumbers, solar panel installers, carpenters and more.
The speaker would like to expand the program to the South Jamaica Houses at 106-24 159 St. and to other boroughs like Brooklyn and the Bronx.
As of 2018, more than one in eight New Yorkers or 117,000 people between the ages of 16 to 24, were out-of-school and out-of-work. Since the pandemic, the number of OSOW people climbed to 197,000 in 2020, according to data from the Disconnected Youth Task Force, a City Council entity that provides resources for youths.
In 2022, the young people throughout the city within the above age range also faced an unemployment rate of 17.9 percent and a labor participation rate of 43.6 percent compared to 8.3 percent and 56 percent nationally, respectively. Black and Latino youth also made up 75 percent of the OSOW population.
According to a 2019 NYC Equity report, 11.3 percent of the city’s OSOW population is from Queens.
As of today, the waitlist for the vocational program at RTI, which lacks space, is 3,145, according to the organization.
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