MANHATTAN — New Yorkers need more of an edge when it comes to job hunting in the city’s burgeoning tech sector, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn said at an event this week.
To provide that push toward success, Quinn said the City Council is partnering with City University of New York and local industry professionals to create a new program aimed at getting workers up to speed and ready to be hired.
The program, which could launch as early as this fall, would provide three to six months of training in computer language skills, teaching workers the latest innovations in an industry that advances every day.
"By definition it moves quickly," Quinn told those who attended the event, hosted by the Flatiron Business Improvement District on Tuesday.
"So if you’ve taken two or three years off to start your family and you’re an engineer or a computer programmer and you’re going to go back into the workforce, you’re light years behind.
"But we don’t want you to go back to school. That’s ridiculous."
The certificate program, developed in collaboration with employers in the tech industry, will offer training in the latest technological advancements in a matter of months and will be recognized and accepted by digital businesses, Quinn said.
Details such as cost and availability have yet to be determined.
The need for such a program is real, Quinn said. She said she recently spoke with a tech company in New York that had 15 open positions but could not find candidates with the appropriate skills.
Huge Inc., a digital agency in Brooklyn, has faced a similar challenge, a spokesman said.
The company has about 50 open positions at any given time, and finding qualified talent has been difficult.
So last year, the company launched something similar to what Quinn has proposed, introducing a three-month-long summer apprenticeship program that prepares prospective employees for a job at Huge.
The program has been a success, the spokesman added, and recently graduated its second class of new employees.
Offering such a program on a broader scale will be critical in making workers more viable as the city’s tech industry continues to grow, Quinn said.
In nearby Union Square, Jennifer Falk, executive director of the Union Square Partnership, said she estimates at least 15 tech-related firms have signed leases in 2011 and early 2012, accounting for close to 200,000 square feet of commercial office space and roughly 900 employees.
"[Tech companies] thrive on the vibrancy and the energy of more of these mixed-use neighborhoods," Falk explained.
And, just last week, a pair of entrepreneurs hosted the first-ever NY Tech Day at the Lexington Avenue Armory, allowing dozens of tech startups to gain exposure and hunt for future employees.
"We want the New Yorker to get that job," Quinn said. "We think this is really a way we can help put New Yorkers to work."