Merriam-Webster tells us an apprentice is one who is learning by practical experience under skilled workers of a trade, art, or calling. SUNY is using its expertise and resources to expand our understanding of an apprentice as a proven workforce development option for most job sectors across the state.
Registered Apprenticeship has a long history right here in New York State and has been a tool to aid employers to close the skills gap for more than 75 years. And today with support from the Governor, SUNY, in partnership with New York State Department of Labor’s Apprenticeship Office is investing greatly in Registered Apprenticeship expansion throughout the state of New York.
A $3 million dollar initial state investment will allow SUNY to provide opportunities to employers to offer new registered apprenticeships to individuals to learn as they go. Apprenticeships allow an “earn while you learn” model in every sense of the phrase. By being provided with an education alongside the work, apprentices learn specific skills that provide a basis for expertise in that particular job in an industry.
In fact, the apprentice program aims to help apprentices to boost their career forward. This program seeks to build opportunities to add a college degree to the apprenticeships which will open up more options in the workforce than ever before.
These Registered Apprenticeship programs are sponsored by employers
locally. Participants in the program are required to complete a minimum of 144 hours of Related Instruction per year in addition to on the job hours. The goal of this program is for sponsors of apprenticeship programs to turn to their local SUNY campuses to host the Related Instruction for apprentices. Some SUNY campuses are already involved in this instruction, while others are working to join in and further close the skills gap.
With community colleges scattered throughout the state of New York, SUNY is presented with the unique opportunity to have each community college offer critical support to apprenticeship programs based on the needs of the local community. Colleges will feature support to programs in fields that are in demand for the local area and its employers.
SUNY Schenectady County Community College is focused on the expansion of healthcare apprenticeships, while Mohawk Valley Community College (MVCC) will be working with manufacturers to provide Registered Apprenticeships in that field. SUNY will be helping out the local communities by providing them with qualified workers that fit the vacant positions in the region. Graduates of the apprentice program will be fully trained to help employers meet their workforce development needs and fill skills gaps in the industry.
Along with Registered Apprenticeships comes an opportunity for those who may be interested in the particular field, but lack the background to get started in the industry. These “pre-apprenticeships” allow people a chance to take part in a short-term program that gives them the skills needed to prepare for a Registered Apprenticeship. SUNY colleges may partner with Educational Opportunity Centers across New York to help support these pre-apprenticeships.
With a commitment to apprenticeships and pre-apprenticeships, SUNY is investing in programs to help New Yorkers gain the necessary education and skills to succeed, as well as support employers throughout the state to develop the long-term workforce needs that will turn out the services, tools, and products of the future.
Taras Kufel is the Manager of Digital Engagement at the State University of New York.