Empey checks out New York job programs

By Irish Echo Staff

Sir Reg Empey hears about New York job creation from New York City Commissioner of Small Business, Rob Walsh.

Just 48 hours after his Ulster Unionist party replaced him as leader, Sir Reg Empey was touring the workforce centers of New York - though not in search of employment.

As Minister for Employment and Learning in the Northern Ireland power sharing Executive, Empey was on a fact-finding mission, comparing New York's route-to-work programs with those back in the North.

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His host, New York City Commissioner of Small Business, Rob Walsh, said the visit gave New York the chance to show off its groundbreaking employment programs, this while learning from the experience of their North of Ireland counterparts.

"More than six years ago, the mayor took a bold step in consolidating the Department of Small Business Services and the Department of Employment," Commissioner Walsh told the Echo.

"Since 2004 we have grown our Workforce 1 Career Centers and now have placed New Yorkers in more than 125,000 jobs. This dynamic exchange with Sir Reg Empey, who toured our Manufacturing Sector Center and Workforce 1 Career Center in Brooklyn, enabled us to highlight our progress.

But we also listened carefully to the lessons Sir Reg brought to us and will be taking a much closer look at the work Northern Ireland is doing with community colleges," Walsh said.

Earlier in the week, Empey, in town for the Clinton Global Initiative conference, was among guests at a dinner with billionaire Bill Gates who also was keen to learn from efforts in the North of Ireland to move young people in

disadvantaged neighborhoods from school to college.