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New York faces state workforce crisis. Here’s how Hochul wants to prevent it.

BY: ELEONORA FRANCICA | 02/06/2023 05:01 AM EST

ALBANY, N.Y. — Governor Kathy Hochul proposed an $18.8 million investment for the new fiscal year to boost New York’s state government workforce amid a looming worker shortage.

Key context: The executive budget released Wednesday raised concerns over a workforce shortage in state agencies, which are predicting a shortage of 12,500 workers over the next five years.

The projections have estimated that the factor worsening the current public jobs situation will be people eligible to retire within the next five years, which amounts to 26 percent of the current state workforce.

The looming problem pushed Hochul to include in the budget several actions aimed at increasing the number of state workers, including making state government positions more economically attractive and offering access to online training courses to recruit people.

Among the most relevant initiatives, the budget proposes to index the minimum wage to inflation, which would be for all public and private workers, and offer state employees 12 weeks of fully paid parental leave.

The $18.8 million investment includes programs to modernize the entire structure of government agencies. Proposals start from the renovation of buildings to adapt to new hybrid work system needs, to update a job evaluation system to meet pay equity and fairness standards across all titles of civil service workers.

The creation of Centers for Careers in Government would also help facilitate communication between state agencies and job seekers, her presentation said.

The center would support Hochul’s wider plan to launch a continuous recruitment initiative through an ongoing offer of training and experience exams, multiple choice exams via remote proctoring and computer-based testing centers.

The educational program designed to train government personnel includes two additional State Police academy classes and the extension to the next fiscal year — which starts on April 1 — of the Nurses For Our Future Scholarship Program, which is designed to recruit and retrain nursing and health care professionals.

What they said: In a statement, the president of the Public Employees Federation, Wayne Spence, applauded the measures.

“PEF is very pleased that Governor Hochul advanced a concrete plan to rebuild the state workforce to ensure the continued efficient and effective delivery of all state services,” he said.

Key state agencies that would benefit from the initiative would include the Office of Mental Health, the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, the Department of Environmental Conservation, the Department of Motor Vehicles and the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision.

The aim is that that new workers, according to the budget, would be involved in projects that include, for example, the renewal of the state’s park system; additional support for migrant services and assistance programs; the creation of 2,150 new residential beds for people with mental illness and the establishment of a Supervision Against Violent Engagement program.

Mary Sullivan, president of the Civil Service Employees Association, the state’s largest public workers union, said she is optimistic that the changes would bolster the state’s workforce.

The state workforce in the executive branch fell from about 118,000 to less than 107,000 between 2020 and 2022, state records showed.

“For too many years the state and local workforce has been decimated making it harder to provide the services the citizens of New York State depend on.”

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