LaGuardia Community College recently received more than $400,000 in federal funding to enhance and expand vocational training for underemployed New Yorkers in a city that is still working to recover from COVID-19 pandemic-induced job loss. The support was secured by U.S. Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez and former Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney.
LaGuardia Community College President Kenneth Adams explained that the school lost nearly a quarter of its students at the height of the pandemic due to the economic effects of the lockdown on low-income Queens households.
“In the spring of 2020, New York City lost almost a million jobs and they were almost all in the service sector, mostly held by low-wage immigrant workers at restaurants, in tourism, and the hotels,” Adams told QNS recently. “It was a catastrophic economic blow that forced many of our students to leave LaGuardia because they had to find work and help their families.”
While many have already returned and more are coming back for the spring semester beginning in March, LaGuardia has yet to return to pre-pandemic enrollment levels.
“Many of them are in very precarious financial situations and the loss of income during COVID pushed them out of school,” Adams said. “They have to stabilize their financial situation before they can come back to college.”
Adams has a plan. With the new federal funding, LaGuardia’s Division of Adult Continuing Education and Workforce Development will purchase the latest, industry-standard equipment and upgrade existing labs where accelerated professional trainings in Electrical 1, Plumbing 1, and Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) 1 will be held on campus. Currently, these trainings are held off campus.
“LaGuardia Community College provides professional training for New Yorkers in electrical, plumbing, HVAC, and other similar fields, and I’m proud to support their efforts,” Schumer said. “These federal funds will create new career opportunities for more people, increasing access to good-paying jobs and professional development, all while meeting local community and employer demand.”
Through the programs, under-employed and unemployed incumbent workers, who often face limited access to good-paying jobs and professional development, have received industry-recognized, skills-based training that has enabled them to embark upon new careers in high-demand fields or to advance in their current positions.
“These funds will arm unemployed and underemployed individuals with the tools needed to learn new skill sets that will open up employment opportunities, creating a pipeline to train untapped talent in overlooked communities,” Gillibrand said.
Velázquez said institutions like LaGuardia Community College are vital to providing students with the education and skills they need to succeed in the modern economy.
“The workforce training enabled by these funds will help unemployed and underemployed individuals earn the knowledge necessary to obtain good paying jobs across a variety of in-demand fields,” Velázquez said.
In addition to former students, the trainings will be open to unemployed and underemployed individuals who are low-income, formerly incarcerated, veterans, homeless, disconnected youth, TANF or SNAP recipients, those who lack a high school diploma or equivalent, and those with limited English proficiency.
“They will get to experience the welcoming spirit of the LaGuardia campus, and have access to the college’s extensive services, including our on-campus daycare, library, tutoring centers, and counseling, as well as our food pantry and other resources to help students facing financial challenges,” said Hannah Weinstock, LaGuardia’s senior director of workforce development.
Adams explained that the noncredit workforce training program becomes a feeder to LaGuardia’s degree programs.
“Once their financial situation settles down they can then come back and earn an Associate Degree,” Adams said. “On behalf of LaGuardia Community College, I want to express our gratitude to Senator Schumer, Senator Gillibrand, Congresswoman Velázquez, and former Congresswoman Maloney, for the confidence they have shown in our focus on helping New Yorkers—especially those impacted by the pandemic—to receive advanced training to start a new career or advance in their current field.”
For more information on LaGuardia Community College’s continuing education programs visit here.