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Cuomo brings job fair to York College

TimesLedger Newspapers

Job seekers lined up at York College last week to take advantage of one of the 11 job fairs held across the state under Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s NY Works program.

About two dozen employers, such as Cablevision, Resorts World and the city Fire Department, were selected to be a part of the fair based on the number of available positions they have registered with the state Department of Labor’s job bank.

At 7.9 percent, Queens’ unemployment rate in April was below New York’s average, though the rate for 16- to 24-year-olds — 23.1 percent — is higher than the state average, and as part of the governor’s agenda the Labor has instituted the Youth Works program aimed at getting young people to work.

Representatives from the department were on hand at the fair taking applications for the program, which provides younger workers in 12 target regions, including New York City; six to eight weeks of training leading to certification; and tax incentives to businesses that hire them. The longer the employee stays at the job, the higher the tax break.

“It’s local kids, local jobs with training for the local businesses that need them,” said Labor Department Special Counsel Rachel Gold.

The idea, she said, was to incentivize employers to take the time and effort required to take on young job seekers — who often find it difficult to find jobs, especially when they are competing with those who have more experience in the workforce — all the while building regional economies.

Dwight Lee, 24, graduated last year with a business management degree from American International College in Springfield, Mass. He got a job as a design consultant when he returned home to Jamaica, but was later laid off and is now uncertain about which direction to go in.

“As of now I’m not really looking for a career. I’m just trying to get my feet in the water,” he said, adding he was finding it difficult to find a job. “It’s tough. There are other people out there with tons and tons of experience.”

Job seekers also lined up at a table for the department’s Skills Matching and Referral Technology, which scans in a résumé and then searches a database to match their qualifications with open positions.

Labor’s career centers in Jamaica, at 168-25 Jamaica Ave., and in Flushing, at 138-60 Barclay Ave., also provide many services to help people with their résumés.

Baysider Mark Donnelly, an author and poet who has an extensive background teaching English composition and writing, looked around a few tables for a job that matched his credentials.

He was laid off from his job as a librarian for the Queens Library about a year ago and recently lost out to a young woman for a job as an adjunct professor at the New York Institute of Technology.

“Part of the problem is I’m 61 years old,” he said. “I didn’t have the strong tech background this young lady did.”

Still, despite the perceived advantage, Donnelly said he would not relish being a young job seeker now.

“I wouldn’t want to be 25 and starting out today. If I had to, I’d probably be a waiter and focus on my writing,” he said.

Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at rbockmann@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.

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