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Upwardly mobile in Jamaica, Queens

The Commissioner of New York State Department of Labor Peter M. Rivera, Esq. unequivocally told a packed room at York College in Queens, in the presence of Dr. Marcia V. Keizs, Councilmember Leroy Comrie, Assemblywoman Vivian Cook and the Hon. Archie Spigner, that in the workforce, “There are areas he sees moving forward when it comes to communities of color.”

“New York State has opportunities to give,” the recently appointed commissioner optimistically stated during an early morning York College Executive Leadership Breakfast Series, sponsored by JetBlue. Clearly, with a keen understanding of the impact the highly-anticipated rebounding job market could have on the upward-mobile Jamaica, Queens population and York College’s continuously increasing student population of 8,242, the commissioner divulged a list of job initiatives promising longevity and a record of confirmed success.

“In setting up an initiative, we want programs that are long lasting,” explained Rivera, whose primary assigned task is to link job seekers with employers. However, with a look of hope and a blazing smile, the commissioner provided a stark illustration of a workforce agenda prepared to reinstate test-taking preparatory courses and a continuation of the newly established Youth Works program. Rivera asserted that Youth Works “did a very good job; it exceeded our expectation.”

While the commissioner disclosed exhausting $9 billon dollars on unemployment checks, the perception of a murky job market would have been inaccurate. More importantly, when the commissioner was asked how many people can secure jobs, he replied, “New York has “seven million to hire.” He added, “The hardest part is to get localities to give me slots.”

Although a resurgence of jobs is inviting news, a majority of the commissioner’s work endeavors did not strike a chord for students in attendance. “Some of the things the commissioner spoke about do not address my student population but they address a broader need,” said the President of York College Marcia V. Keizs, in an interview following the breakfast series.

With an eyesore backdrop of student loans accounting for $1 trillion in outstanding student loan debts in the United States based upon a report by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the CUNY president did not hesitate to express “the other reality not discussed in detail by the commissioner, which “has to do with the kind of jobs I would be expecting my students when they graduate from here to be ready for.”

While embracing the keynote speaker’s advocacy for improving preparatory courses for civil service examinations, the president implored her multi-cultural student body in excess of 125 nationalities, “to develop academic business savvy skills” by putting aside certain expenditures to make an investment in their career.”

Upcoming events at the York College Performing Arts Series are: Black Wall Street (Jan. 5, 2013), Ebony Embers (Feb. 8, 2013), Alex Blake (Feb. 16, 2013), Alberta Hunter (March 2, 2013), Spotlight with Casey Benjamin (March 22, 2013) and Dreamgirls (May 3-12, 2013).

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