"Back to Work" Legislation & Plan Seeks to Help Mothers Returning to the Workforce

New York, NY— Parents returning to the workforce will have the City’s support, if legislation sponsored by Council Members Ben Kallos, Laurie Cumbo and Robert Cornegy passes. The legislation would expand New York City’s Workforce1 job centers and online information hub to include resources and training for parents returning to work after taking time off. They called for technology training, public-private partnerships, specialized resume assistance, proactive outreach and expanded online information to help parents return to work. 
According to the 
Pew Center for Research, women experience family-related career pauses at a rate much higher than men: 39% of women took significant time off, compared to 24% of men and 27% of women quit their jobs, compared to 10% of men. Of those, 31% of mothers said taking a significant amount of time off hurt their careers, compared with 18% of men.
 
According to the 
Center for an Urban Future, New York City’s Workforce1 Program helped connect 40,000 people to jobs in 2013.
 
“All parents who want to go back to work should have support,” said Council Member Ben Kallos, a member of the Women’s Issues Committee. “Women across all demographics report higher rates of taking time off to parent than men and difficulty re-entering the workforce when they are ready. New York City must continue to adapt to modern needs by helping mothers return to work if they choose.”

“It’s so important that NYC’s workforce training system respond to real opportunities in the market and the real needs of New Yorkers. Focusing workforce training resources on the needs of mothers returning to work will address troubling inequalities that harm families by hamstringing women’s professional opportunities. I’m proud to close out Women’s History Month by joining Council Members Kallos and Cumbo in supporting this important legislation,” said Council Member Robert Cornegy.

"Women, representing more than half of our city's population, often find themselves at a greater disadvantage when returning to the workforce after an extended period of absence. The “Back to Work’ bill calls for the expansion of City resources to provide parents preparing to re-enter the workforce with direct access to opportunities for employment and job readiness programs citywide. Through strategic partnerships with organizations across industry sectors, parents can hone their skills to become competitive candidates for employment, We need to even the playing field to ensure that all New Yorkers can succeed in the job market,” said Council Member Laurie A. Cumbo, Chair of the Committee on Women’s Issues.

"Through my own experience working with parents in my district, I understand how valuable the Back to Work bill could be. I'm grateful to my colleagues, Council Member Ben Kallos, Council Member Laurie Cumbo, and Council Member Robert Cornegy, for their leadership on this issue," said Council Member Helen Rosenthal.
 
"Planned Parenthood of New York City applauds Council Member Ben Kallos for introducing legislation to support parents reentering the workforce. Many new parents in New York City are forced to exit the workforce because of a lack of paid family leave and affordable child care. This disproportionately impacts women and low-income workers who frequently face an impossible choice between their family's well-being and economic security. Parents deserve to have resources and support when they're ready and able to reenter the workforce,” said Christina Chang, Vice President for Public Affairs, Planned Parenthood of New York City.
 
"Our advocacy for a woman’s right to make personal reproductive health decisions goes hand in hand with policies that empower her to best support her family. Councilmember Ben Kallos’s ‘Back to Work’ legislation is an important step in helping New York parents reenter the workforce while caring for their children. NARAL Pro-Choice New York is proud to support this legislation," said Andrea Miller, President, NARAL Pro-Choice New York. 
 
“WCC is proud to support the Back to Work bill and commends Council Members Kallos, Cumbo, and Cornegy for their efforts,” said Jacqueline Ebanks, Executive Director of Women’s City Club of New York. “Too often parents seeking to return to the workforce are left to fend for themselves. This bill and its supporting five-point implementation plan will support parents as they return to work, benefit their families and strengthen New York City’s economy.”
 
“We enthusiastically support this measure to provide New York City parents, in particular mothers, with the necessary resources to successfully reenter the workforce, earn a living wage, and be able to care for their children. NYLAG is dedicated to ensuring that these women have a level playing field when reentering the workplace,” said Beth Goldman, President & Attorney-in-Charge of the New York Legal Assistance Group (NYLAG).
 
"We see, first hand, that mothers who exit the workforce--often not by choice--face numerous barriers trying to re-enter and pay a steep price for their absence. One study found that women's wages decline by 11% for every 22 months they are out of work and not furthering their education. We applaud Council Members Kallos, Cumbo and Cornegy for putting  these mothers first, and helping them get back to work,” said Phoebe Taubman, Senior Staff Attorney at A Better Balance.

“Finding a job in New York City is hard enough.  But when you've been out of the workforce for a few years, raising a family, it becomes even more difficult.  It would be amazing to have a resource to help parents returning to the workforce overcome what feels like this huge obstacle to employment,” said Erica Cohen, a parent.
 
“Most people know the Virginia Woolf quote about needing a room of her own, but we know that the quote actually starts this way: ‘A WOMAN MUST HAVE MONEY and a room of her own...’ And the way to guarantee both of these things is with a great job. The Lower Eastside Girls Club is thrilled to support Back to Work legislation. Helping empower, train and support women as they re-enter the workforce has been a priority for our organization since our founding in 1996,” said Lyn Pentecost, Founder and Executive Director of The Lower Eastside Girls Club.
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FIVE POINT PLAN TO SUPPORT PARENTS GOING BACK TO WORK:

1.Expand tech training.
 
After 5+ years out of the workforce, the technology skills needed to succeed in the workforce are understandably behind. According to the IDC, 50% of jobs currently require technology skills – a number rising to 77% in the next decade. Many job listings, particularly in high-growth fields, require digital literacy – whether it’s fluency with the Office Suite or social media experience.
NYC should expand its targeted technology training to help build skills in those who have been out of the workforce.
 
2. Reach out proactively.
 
To encourage mothers to return to the workforce will require proactive outreach to parents about available city resources. Over time, we hope to create a cultural shift in our city that will encourage parents to return to the workforce if they are interested in doing so.
 
3. Partner with companies.
 
Dozens of organizations across sectors – financial services, nonprofits, IT, government and more – sponsor career reentry programs for parents returning to work, though many were cut in the great recession. In New York City, the administration’s Tech Talent Pipeline has launched with partnerships from 14 companies to provide connection to tech jobs and education. The city should use this model to encourage private companies to invest in reentry education and expand opportunities available to those coming back to work.
 
4. Help leverage skills.
 
In their years out of the workforce, parents continue to develop and grow numerous and diverse skills. Parents should be assisted in identifying and communicating existing skills that can be leveraged in their next job. Workforce1 resume training can and should be targeted and specialized towards helping parents who have been out of the workforce find their next career.
 
5. More comprehensive information online.
 
The Workforce1 website serves primarily as a resource to find in-person Workforce1 Centers, jobs and classes. There is vast opportunity to expand the site to be a hub for information, trainings and city resources – especially for parents considering returning to the workforce searching online for information. Having an official city source of assistance in reentering the workforce would assist those who are taking initial steps to rejoin.