Press Releases

Mayor Bloomberg and Deputy Mayor Lieber Announce New Partnerships to Provide Advanced Auto-Related Training Programs at no Cost to Willets Point Workforce

Press Release


Greater New York Auto Dealers Association to Provide Preparation for Green Automotive Jobs and Training to Become Dealership Technicians and New York State Inspectors and to Receive Automotive Service Excellence Certifications.

Consortium for Worker Education to Provide More than 500 Courses at 24 Locations in Elmhurst, Corona, Jackson Heights, Flushing and Sunnyside in Areas that Include Automotive and Truck Repair, Commercial Driving, and Computer Operation and Repair.

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Robert C. Lieber, Greater New York Auto Dealers Association Chairman Brian Miller, and Consortium for Worker Education Executive Joseph McDermott today announced new auto-related training and job placement programs that will be free to all workers at Willets Point. The new initiatives expand the Willets Point Workforce Assistance Plan, coordinated by LaGuardia Community College, which is designed to provide training and job placement opportunities for the workers who may be affected by the remediation and redevelopment of Willets Point. The Greater New York Auto Dealers Association will develop a program tailor-made for those currently working at Willets Point to help prepare them for opportunities in car dealership service departments, including training in green, hybrid automobile technology. The program designed by the Consortium for Worker Education will allow workers to participate in more than 500 courses, including automotive and truck repair, as well as non-auto-related classes in computer operation and repair and pre-vocational training. Participants will also have access to the Consortium's network of job placement and job referral services.

"With the responsibility to clean the contaminated land at Willets Point comes another responsibility - to do everything we can to support the workers of the businesses that have to be relocated," said Mayor Bloomberg. "Many workers at Willets Point who provide auto-related services now may lack the training necessary to perform advanced automotive repairs, fix hybrid cars or provide dealership technician services. The partnerships we're announcing today with the Greater New York Auto Dealers Association and the Consortium for Worker Education will go a long way to helping workers at Willets Points take advantage of the movement towards advanced automotive and green technology-related jobs, as well as explore alternative careers in a host of other industries. The redevelopment of Willets Point brings an opportunity to create - in the heart of Queens - 5,300 permanent jobs, 18,000 construction jobs, affordable housing where today no housing exists at all, new parks and playgrounds, office and retail space, a new school, and a hotel and convention center. It is important that we also provide new opportunities to those that work there today."

"An important part of the plan for Willets Point is to make sure that the workers who may be displaced by the redevelopment are afforded every chance to develop new skills and identify employment opportunities in the City," said Deputy Mayor Lieber. "These partnerships will provide workers a wide array of programs and training including state certification and green collar cutting edge jobs at no cost to the workers."

Greater New York Auto Dealer Association will design a new curriculum tailor made for workers displaced by the redevelopment of Willets Point at its state-of-the-art, 90,000-square-foot Center for Automotive Education & Training Center in Whitestone, Queens. Participants will train for positions in a new car dealership's service and repair department and will have access to the Association's network of job placement and job referral services. Courses will include lectures and hands-on technical training in green, hybrid automobile technology, preventative maintenance, vehicle inspection, tire and wheel service, basic brake inspection and service, suspension system and exhaust system diagnosis and service. Greater New York Auto Dealer Association is a non-profit organization that provides information and services to help New York Area auto dealers run their businesses and serves as an advocate for the automobile industry. Its membership consists of more than 650 new car franchises in New York State, supporting more than 62,000 jobs.

"We're thrilled to be able to help retrain the workers of Willets Point as part of this important initiative," said Greater New York Auto Dealer Association Chairman Brian Miller. "Encouraging new people in the industry is my Association's number one priority as we embrace new green technology in the form of hybrid, electric, fuel cell and natural gas powered vehicles. I believe that the Greater New York Auto Dealer Association is a good fit for the people of Willets Point who already show an aptitude and interest in the automobile industry."

The Consortium for Worker Education provides employment preparation and work-specific training services to more 75,000 New Yorkers each year. These services are delivered by a staff of more than 250 teachers in hundreds of locations across the city, including dedicated training facilities, work sites, union halls, churches and community centers. The Consortium comprises 46 major New York City Central Labor Council unions and partners with major employer associations like the Building Trades Employers Association and ROC-New York (Restaurant Opportunities Center), which trains and places workers in restaurant and food service positions. All Consortium for Worker Education programs are completely free of charge to workers.

"A major goal of this partnership is to find jobs for Willets Point workers as quickly as possible via direct placement," said Consortium for Worker Education Executive Director McDermott. "Willets Point workers seeking skills training classes will find many opportunities as well."

LaGuardia Community College's Division of Adult and Continuing Education was chosen by the Department of Small Business Services and the New York City Economic Development Corporation in late 2007 to develop and implement a Workforce Assistance Plan for the workers of the Willets Point neighborhood of Queens. The Division of Adult and Continuing Education is the largest continuing education program at a public college in New York City and has been a major workforce development institution and employer in Queens for over three decades. The workforce development program is designed to support Willets Point's approximately 1,300 current employees and will include English language classes, vocational assessment, job readiness skills, placement services and cash incentives for participation. The 18-month program will begin in fall 2008 following the public approval process. Until program implementation, LaGuardia Community College will continue to develop and refine the initiative as well as begin outreach to the potential users of the services.

"LaGuardia Community College is dedicated to providing the assessment, focused training and assistance to the workers of Willets Point so they can earn a living and continue to provide for their families," LaGuardia Community College President Dr. Gail O. Mellow.

In September 2008, Mayor Bloomberg, Deputy Mayor Lieber and New York Hotel and Motel Trades Council President Peter Ward announced that Council's Hotel Employee Benefit Fund would, for the first time ever, open its doors to non-members so Willets Point workers can participate in a specialized training program for food and beverage services and engineering work. Workers will also have an opportunity to utilize the New York Hotel and Motel Trades Council's job referral program which connects appropriately skilled workers to jobs in union hotels.

The Willets Point Master Plan, announced by Mayor Bloomberg in May 2007, outlines the remediation of the contaminated 60-acre area and its transformation into a vibrant, mixed-use district with affordable housing, office and retail space, new parks and playgrounds, a new public school, cultural and community uses and a state-the-art convention center and hotel. The redevelopment is expected to create 18,000 construction jobs and 5,300 permanent jobs for a total economic impact on the New York City economy of more than $25 billion over the next 30 years. The plan has been approved by the local Community Board, Queens Borough President Helen Marshall and the City Planning Commission.

Willets Point workers interested in learning more about the Willets Point Workforce Assistance Project can visit CUNY on Wheels in Willets Point or contact:

Linda Barlow, Director
Willets Point Workforce Assistance Plan at LaGuardia Community College Division of Adult and Continuing Education
29-10 Thomson Avenue
Long Island City, NY 11101
718 482-5337

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