State lawmakers introduce workforce development bill to help low-income New Yorkers land high-paying tech jobs

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Pursuit’s fellowship program, which provides training and job placement, now has the support of state lawmakers who want to expand their model.
Photo courtesy of Pursuit

Astoria State Senator Michael Gianaris and Fresh Meadows Assembly Member Nily Rozic introduced the Good Jobs Guarantee Act in Albany this month, which could unlock $1 billion in private funding for workforce development. 

The legislation was introduced in partnership with Pursuit, a workforce development company based in Long Island City that has a proven job training program for low-income New Yorkers. Pursuit’s fellows go through full-time training, with no upfront cost, before receiving job placements at leading tech companies. 

“The Good Jobs Guarantee Program is a groundbreaking proposal that will help fulfill the critical need to provide quality jobs and expand our workforce in the tech industry,” said Senator Gianaris. “I’m proud to propose this innovative idea that would help more New Yorkers receive advanced training and have careers they and our communities need.”

Officials estimate that the legislation will provide 24,000 low-income residents across the state with good-paying jobs over a ten-year period. An analysis for the consulting firm HR&A found that it could create $6.5 billion in total worker earnings and $21.5 billion in total economic output for the State. 

The officials hope to close the opportunity gap, especially as new industries in tech, engineering, and semiconductor manufacturing gain traction and promise high-paying careers. The program presents an alternative for low-income New Yorkers to achieve upward financial mobility without needing a college degree. 

“The traditional college route is far from the only way to find a high-quality career in today’s day and age. With the cost of education spiraling out of control, this new structure will give people a way to advance their careers without shackling them to massive debt,” said Senator Leroy Comrie, who signed on as a co-prime sponsor. 

The bill is currently in the early stages of the legislative process, sitting in the Commerce, Economic Development, and Small Business Committee. If passed, it would establish the Good Jobs Guarantee program with a $100 million guarantor fund from the state. 

If passed, the legislation would follow Pursuit’s model, in which participants pay back a small percentage of their income after securing a job to pay for the next round of training. However, participants are not required to make payments throughout the training process, job search, or period of loss of employment for any reason. 

Supporters of this type of program believe that it is a better option for upward mobility than taking tuition-based models that often require taking on student loans. 

“At Pursuit, we have more than a decade of results demonstrating that this model works, helping low-income New Yorkers secure good jobs and more than quadruple their income,” said Jukay Hsu, Pursuit Founder and CEO. 

Pursuit fellows have seen a 387% increase in wages, going from an average of $19,000 to over $90,000 after participating in the four-year program. In the past decade, the participants, who all come from low-income backgrounds, have landed jobs at companies such as Apple, Uber, Spotify, and BlackRock. 

“Our financial product is creating a better system for working people. This legislation will bring this model systems-wide and give more New Yorkers good jobs and lasting economic security for them and their families,” added Hsu. 

He also thanked the elected officials for their support from the organization’s early days and for spearheading a partnership with the “landmark legislation” that combines the private and public sectors. 

“This new legislation represents a significant opportunity in efforts to address economic disparities and provide pathways to prosperity for all New Yorkers,” said Assemblymember Rozic, who chairs the consumer affairs and protection committee. “The Good Jobs Guarantee Program is a bold initiative to unlock funding for proven workforce development programs, ensuring that individuals have access to the skills and opportunities they need to secure good-paying jobs and achieve financial stability.”