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Where to Find the Job Candidates You Need in Westchester

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Struggling to find qualified job applicants for your openings? Here are resources to help you scout out top candidates in Westchester.

Businesses throughout the country are experiencing an unusual if not unprecedented change in workforce development. The COVID-19 pandemic has only hastened an already emerging shortage of workers in a variety of industries; now, nearly every sector of the economy is dealing with the “Great Resignation” of workers changing jobs, changing careers and in some cases sitting out entirely.

“We are in the midst of a transformation of the workforce, and we’re not sure exactly where it’s going to end up,” says Thom Kleiner, executive director of the Westchester-Putnam Workforce Development Board. “We do know that businesses need to be more creative” in finding, hiring, and maintaining good candidates for their open positions.

To help employers navigate this challenging landscape, Westchester County supports numerous resources, incentives, and organizations that help employers connect with the right talent or train their existing talent. The problem: many employers don’t know these resources exist. Here are just some of the places to turn for finding the talent you need to succeed in today’s business environment.

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NYS DEPARTMENT OF LABOR (DOL)

The DOL offers a wealth of resources for both job seekers and employers (dol.ny.gov/services-businesses) and Kleiner says something new is in the offing: a Virtual Career Center, the first of its kind in the state. Kleiner has been involved in early testing, and “it’s the best thing any of us have seen, really,” he says. “It lets you filter information on a pretty granular level — by ZIP codes, education levels. Indeed has something similar, but that’s pretty unusual for a public institution.”

The platform, which DOL says is powered by “robust” artificial intelligence, provides job leads that better match a job seeker’s skills and experience to job postings. It will contain more than 200,000 jobs, and is expected to launch sometime this year.

BUSINESSFIRST

BusinessFirst is the umbrella term for all county programs, says Bridget Gibbons, Westchester County’s director of economic development. The county has prioritized four economic development sectors: bioscience, advanced manufacturing, technology, and clean energy. “Employers in advanced manufacturing told us they can’t hire enough people, so the county is launching a certification program to train entry-level folks to have the skills needed to start with a company,” she says. No college degree is needed, and in the six-month program, candidates learn skills in safety, quality assurance, manufacturing processes, and more.

BusinessFirst also holds job fairs, which are “back to basics, pre-COVID, in-person for various sectors,” she says. One construction firm hired 25 people from one fair alone, she says. More job fairs are coming up.

ON THE JOB TRAINING (OJT)

“Our strategy is train, train, train,” Gibbons says, and to that end, employers should look into OJT. This statewide program will pay 50% of the wages of a new hire being trained on the job by an employer. “Even though it’s a job seekers’ market, that doesn’t mean people can just leave their hospital service job and go to a digital marketing company,” Kleiner says. With OJT funding, employers can hire new workers who have the potential to enhance their business but need specific training to reach full potential. Training can even include “soft skills” such as customer service. “Employers can contact us, register with us, and we will walk them through the process,” Kleiner says. (For examples of employers who have made successful use of the OJT program, see page 14.)

Related: What Legalizing Cannabis Means for Westchester’s Workplaces

OFFICE OF WORKFORCE INVESTMENT (OWI)

The OWI provides workforce development services to both job seekers and employers. In partnership with economic development agencies, business organizations, educational institutions, community-based organizations, and other workforce development agencies through Putnam and Westchester counties, OWI offers a “One Stop” system. This system of core and satellite career centers provides businesses with local labor market information, employee recruitment, opportunities to post job openings and business resource information. “There are lots of reasons people are looking for jobs, and there are lots of jobs, but somehow the two are not coming together,” says Grant Schneider, president and founder of Performance Development Strategies, a leadership and organization development consultancy. OWI looks to match those people to those jobs. “Shame on employers if they don’t spend time” with OWI, he says.

“Even though it’s a job seekers’ market, that doesn’t mean people can just leave their hospital service job and go to a digital marketing company.”
—Thom Kleiner, Executive Director, Westchester-Putnam Workforce Development Board

THE MINORITY- AND WOMEN-OWNED BUSINESS PROGRAM

This resource for minority- and women-owned businesses, either just starting out or long-established, centers around networking “and we know developers are looking to hire minority-and women-owned businesses,” Gibbons says.

The Westchester County Association (WCA) Annual Breakfast is an opportunity for employers to hear from local workforce-development experts such as Belinda Miles, president of SUNY Westchester Community College; Joe Carbone, president and CEO of The WorkPlace; and Diane Woolley, Chief Human Resources Officer at White Plains Hospital. Courtesy of WCA

WESTCHESTER COUNTY ASSOCIATION (WCA)

The WCA focuses on talent recruitment and retention, says Jason Chapin, the organization’s director of workforce development. He suggests employers start with the many job boards available:

“I also recommend Indeed.com, LinkedIn, employer websites, and college career centers for job listings,” Chapin says.

WCA’s Employer Resource Guide includes information for employers looking for talent, tax credits, hiring incentives, and more: www.westchester.org/employerguide.

WCA hosts several workforce-development events each year, including career fairs and an Annual Regional Workforce Summit. Pictured are, left to right: Dr. Penny Jennings, vice president of strategic programs and partnerships at Greyston; Christopher White, acting deputy commissioner of workforce development, New York State Dept. of Labor; Jason Chapin, WCA director of workforce development; Hope Knight, Empire State Development president and CEO-designate; Timothy L. Hall, president of Mercy College; Teresita B. Wisell, SUNY Westchester Community College vice president of workforce development and community education; George Latimer, Westchester County Executive; Susan Fox, WCA board chair; Michael N. Romita, WCA president and CEO. Courtesy of WCA

FUTURE SKILLS EXCHANGE/WDI

The Future Skills Exchange (FSX) is a free web-based marketplace that connects New Yorkers who seek courses, certifications, apprenticeships and credentials directly to the education and training providers who deliver them. The platform focuses on education and training options for working learners to develop skills, acquire real-world job experience, and evaluate options to prove their skills to current and future employers. FSX was developed by the Workforce Development Institute (WDI), a statewide nonprofit that works to grow and keep good jobs in the state, in partnership with Innovate + Educate. Find the site at www.futureskillsx.org.

“We do have a worker shortage, and the issue as we see it is to build pipelines to jobs, especially in emerging industries like green tech, wind, and solar,” says Deryl Beasley, WDI’s regional director for the Lower Hudson Valley. New cannabis legislation will also create a new need for about 50,000 workers. “We solve workforce development problems and provide grants to help give workers new skills and support worker training,” he says.

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