The New York State Department of Labor (NYSDOL) today announced that it recently received national accolades for its efforts to help New Yorkers throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Google bestowed NYSDOL with its Social Impact Award for the agency’s herculean effort to provide critical financial assistance through the Excluded Workers Fund, a program for workers who lost income during the pandemic and were ineligible for other forms of federal relief, including unemployment and pandemic benefits. NYSDOL was also honored by online learning giant Coursera with its Government Innovation Award for connecting tens of thousands of New Yorkers to virtual career development training, enabling them to learn new skills to advance their careers.
“Technology was truly an unsung hero for the department during the pandemic,” said New York State Department of Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon. “We learned a lot of lessons, and we will continue to explore new, innovative solutions to better serve the needs of our customers. I am so proud to share these awards with the hardworking men and women at NYSDOL who worked around the clock to assist New Yorkers during one of the most challenging chapters in modern history. It is because of their fortitude, knowledge, and commitment to quality service that we were able to successfully overcome the hurdles and persevere.”
In 2021, New York State launched the Excluded Workers Fund to distribute $2.1 billion to aid New Yorkers who were ineligible for other forms of federal assistance. NYSDOL built a mobile-first designed application using Google Cloud tools like Contact Center AI (CCAI) and Doc AI to enable eligible New Yorkers to apply online 24/7 in 13 languages, upload documents, and receive pre-paid debit cards once approved. In total, more than 350,000 applications were processed, including 90,000 in the first month alone, and over 128,000 were approved to receive one-time payments of up to $15,600.
In late 2020, NYSDOL established its partnership with Coursera, providing unemployed New Yorkers a no-cost opportunity to learn new skills and earn certifications virtually. Since its inception, more than 83,000 New Yorkers have logged nearly a million hours of learning.
NYSDOL continues to capitalize on opportunities to modernize its operations with technological enhancements. In June, Governor Hochul announced the department had reached the midpoint of its 4-year Technology Implementation Plan, featuring new developments to help the agency achieve its goal of handling 100% of customer inquiries.