Plans on New York City’s Diversity in Jobs Problem

As New York City’s population reached over 8.5 million people and expected to reach 9 million by 2030, Crain’s 2016 Summit addresses what jobs might look like in the future.

It addressed what the city’s innovation companies need to grow beyond the startup stage. But there’s a major issue most industries face in the city and frankly in the country as well: diversity

It’s been in the media and election that people want a diversity of ideas, race and culture. But according to U.S. Census data, 67 percent of people in New York City identify a person of color, but only represents 38.48 percent of nonprofit cultural staff.

So there are companies and city agencies that are cultivating diversity in the workplace in New York City.

“The German startups we counsel have indicated that their overall experience of establishing a presence in New York City has been quite rewarding,” said James Freeman, Senior Communications Manager of German American Chamber of Commerce, Inc. “The City has been an enthusiastic supporter of startups, offering abundant opportunities and a welcoming environment for new business ventures.”

There is also NYC Department of Small Business Services who has programs to help immigrants, minorities and women. As it so happens the department’s commissioner, Gregg Bishop, spoke on the Jobs of Tomorrow panel as well. In fact, 27 percent of their budget, over $47 million, goes to workforce development and related programs.

While there are agencies and companies focusing on minority growth in various sectors, the panel also touched on job growth and the tech industry.

Greg David, another panelist and Crain's Columnist, said the city accounts for 40 percent of the state population, but gained 75 percent of the jobs recovery since the resection. With that, he argues there soon will be a Silicon Alley because there was a 58 percent job growth from 2007 to 2014. David’s final argument for New York City’s growing tech industry is proximity still matters for the past 16 years because it makes it easier for communication.

David and Bishop along with the rest of the panel, Co-found and CEO of Casper Philip Krim, and Hunter College’s President Jennifer Raab, argued for more diversity in the tech industry and using education to prepare for it.

“Let’s start teaching in the first grade so they won’t be afraid of math and tech” said Bishop on the panel.

And the city is trying to create incentives for minorities such as having Pratt and CUNY’s New York City College of Technology. With that, only 12.2 percent of New York City College of Technology’s student population is white, but over 60 percent of people in the tech industry are white.

Hunter College’s President Jennifer Raab says there is a skills gap for workers, so there needs to be more access to a liberal arts education to plug in those holes. It encourages critical thinking and other skills necessary for job placement in nearly every sector.

As New York City see 9 million people in the near future, Mayor Bill de Blasio plans to create nearly 5 million jobs by 2040.