FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 23, 2008
MAYOR BLOOMBERG, DEPUTY MAYOR LIEBER AND NEW YORK HOTEL AND MOTEL TRADES COUNCIL PRESIDENT PETER WARD ANNOUNCE UNPRECEDENTED HOSPITALITY JOB PROGRAM AS PART OF WILLETS POINT WORKFORCE ASSISTANCE PLAN
Job Referral and Specialized Skills Training Program For Willets Point Workers Created in Conjunction with City's Comprehensive Workforce Assistance Plan
Assistance Plan - Available to Every Willets Point Worker - Will Also Include English Language Classes, Vocational Assessment, Other Job Readiness Skills Training and Placement Services
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Robert C. Lieber and New York Hotel and Motel Trades Council President Peter Ward today announced the first in a series of initiatives that will form the Willets Point Workforce Assistance Plan. The workforce plan, coordinated by LaGuardia Community College, is designed to provide training and job placement opportunities for the workers who made be affected by the remediation and redevelopment of Willets Point. The Hotel and Motel Trades Council Hotel Employee Benefit Fund will, for the first time ever, open its doors to non-members so Willets Point workers can participate in a specialized training program for food and beverage services and engineering work. Workers will also have an opportunity to utilize the New York Hotel and Motel Trades Council's job referral program which connects appropriately skilled workers to jobs in union hotels. Deputy Mayor Lieber made the announcement at the Hotel and Motel Trades Council facility in Long Island City where he was joined by Ward, Queens Borough President Helen Marshall, Hotel Association of New York City President and CEO Joseph E. Spinnato and LaGuardia Community College President Gail Mellow.
"We have a responsibility to clean up the environmental contamination that exists at Willets Point, but with it comes a responsibility to assist the current workforce that will be affected," said Mayor Bloomberg. "The Willets Point Workforce Assistance Plan will be provide a wide array of training and services to workers, and the commitment of the New York Hotel and Motel Trades Council to open its doors is one of the factors that will make the program effective. The program may not be right for everyone, but the more opportunities we can provide, the better-served these workers will be."
"The redevelopment of Willets Point will finally end the ongoing contamination of a critical nexus in Queens, and bring thousands of jobs, affordable housing units and much needed amenities to the area," said Deputy Mayor Lieber. "We have a responsibility to help the existing workers of Willets Point gain the skills and training necessary for future employment and this historic initiative with the Hotel Trades Council will allow workers to access not only good paying jobs but to begin careers in the City's fastest growing sector."
New York Hotel and Motel Trades Council & Hotel Association of New York City, Inc. Industry Training Program prepares hotel union members for job placement and career advancement throughout the hotel and hospitality sector. The program offers specialized training in food and beverage services and engineering, and also provides general life skills. Sessions vary in length, and some of the courses can serve as prerequisites for engineering liscensing. The Hotel Trades Council and Hotel Association Benefits Fund launched the Training Program in 1969, and the program opened its new world-class facility in Long Island City, Queens in September 2007. The Queens Economic Development Corporation and Borough President Marshall were instrumental in helping secure a federal matching grant that made the center possible. The Training Center now has the capacity to train 1,000 people each year. In its first year, over 500 union members received certification for completed courses, and over 300 are already registered for the program this year. For the first time, the Hotel Trades Council is opening its training programs to non-members currently working in Willets Point. Workers who elect to participate in the initiative will be taught in specialized classes designed to serve the unique needs of the Willets Point population.
"Today we are here to open the Training Center's doors to workers from Willets Point who will be displaced by the redevelopment project," said Hotel Trades Council President Peter Ward. "When we built this training center, it was our hope to provide the highest quality training and advancement opportunities for our members. Willets Point workers who accept our invitation will be fully qualified for quality jobs in the hospitality industry anywhere in New York City. This is a proud opportunity for us to help ensure that no worker is left behind in the pursuit of this historic project."
LaGuardia Community College (LAGCC), through its Division of Adult and Continuing Education (ACE), was chosen by the Department of Small Business Services (SBS) and the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) in late 2007 to develop and implement a Workforce Assistance Plan for the workers of the Willets Point neighborhood of Queens. ACE is the largest continuing education program at a public college in New York City and has been a major workforce development institution and employer in Queens for over three decades. The workforce development program is designed to support Willets Point's approximately 1,300 current employees and will include English language classes, vocational assessment, job readiness skills, placement services and cash incentives for participation. The 18-month program will begin in fall 2008 following the public approval process (ULURP). Until program implementation, LAGCC will continue to develop and refine the initiative as well as begin outreach to the potential users of the services.
"LaGuardia Community College is delighted to be able to help the City of New York by investing in the human capital of Willet's Point," said LaGuardia Community College President Dr. Gail O. Mellow. "The College will provide accessible, focused education and training and then work with our partners to provide job placement services in growth-oriented businesses and industries."
"I have always said that any development of Willets Point must include job training and placement for workers," said Queens Borough President Helen Marshall. "This Training Center, which I was happy to support, will now be an integral component of the combined effort to create a new Willets Point, while protecting the futures and advancing the opportunities for current workers on the site and their families. I want to thank the Bloomberg Administration and President Peter Ward of the Hotel Trades Council for their cooperation and support. I also look forward to continuing to work with President Gail Mellow of LaGuardia Community College as she continues to move forward with the college's Workforce Assistance Plan."
"The redevelopment of Willets Point comes at a critical time for New York's economy," said Flushing/Willets Point/Corona LDC President Claire Shulman. "Today's announcement is further proof of the City's commitment to making Willets Point a win-win for all involved. As the project moves forward, we remain deeply committed to ensuring a smooth transition for workers in the area ."
The Willets Point Master Plan, announced by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg in May 2007, outlines the remediation of the contaminated 60-acre area and its transformation into a vibrant, mixed-use district with affordable housing, office and retail space, new parks and playgrounds, a new public school, cultural and community uses and a state-the-art convention center and hotel. The redevelopment is expected to create 18,000 construction jobs and 5,300 permanent jobs for a total economic impact on the New York City economy of more than $5.8 billion over the next 30 years.
Willets Point workers interested in learning more about the Hotel Trades Council training program, or other initiatives as part of the Willets Point Workforce Assistance Project can visit CUNY On Wheels in Willets Point or contact:
Linda Barlow, Director, Willets Point Workforce
Assistance Project at LaGuardia Community College Division of Adult and
Stu Loeser/Andrew Brent (212) 788-2958
Neal Kwatra (New York Hotel & Motel Trades Council) (917) 337-7661
Randy Fader-Smith (LaGuardia Community College) (718) 482-5985