There are several “firsts” when it comes to Nicole Broadnax, the City of Syracuse’s first Registered Apprentice in the Software Developer trade. She had always had the energy, ambition, and willingness to learn new things, but couldn’t find the way to match that to a career path that fit her. But she was introduced to the field by a neighbor who connected her to the employer that could open the doors to a new, rewarding career path. All she needed was the training, and she could get it through the SUNY Apprenticeship Program.
The city contracted MACNY, The Manufacturers Association of Central New York, a SUNY partner in the SUNY Apprenticeship Program, to manage its first Registered Apprenticeship program as part of a larger workforce development strategy that focuses on attracting and training local community members to its talent pool. Thanks to the SUNY Apprenticehip Program, Nicole was able to work with Onondaga Community College to obtain the education needed to become an apprentice in the fields of IT and Cybersecurity.
Director of Digital Services for the city of Syracuse, Kelsey May, described the challenge of building an entire digital services team from scratch. “The demand for trained professionals in the IT sector is high, and the competition for those individuals is stiff,” states May. She made her case for an in-house training program that offered the benefit of a nationally recognized credential to its participants, and the city’s Registered Apprenticeship program became a reality with the education portion it being provided by Onondaga Community College.
At OCC, not only do they educate the apprentice, but they assist in setting up a path into the earn as you learn pathway for both employers and employees. Rebecca Fracchia, Assistant Director of Employer Relations at the school, tells us that “OCC has a specialized intake process for apprentices to assist with registration and simplify their transition from work to the classroom. The College has a dedicated team that works directly with apprenticeship sponsors and apprentices to ensure courses are aligned with their apprenticeship requirements, and the apprentices have the support they need to succeed.”
Building the future workforce through apprenticeship
When asked what she’d say to current high school students who don’t know what their post-secondary plans are, Broadnax attests, “There are so many generational barriers that can get in the way of your success. For example, ‘imposter syndrome’ – you may question your knowledge and experience. But understand that you worked hard to get here, and you do deserve a seat at the table.” She also says that she hadn’t heard about an apprenticeship pathway (except for those centered around cosmetology) in high school; programs for technical roles in IT like this were not presented.
When Nicole completes her apprenticeship, she will earn her Journey Worker status that will get her started on a new career path in information technology and cybersecurity. But most of all, she’ll have a full-time high-paying career, with SUNY credits and no student debt! Her journey shows us how the college experience at SUNY is much more than the a typical 2 or 4-year degree track. The earn-while-you-learn training program that a registered apprenticeship provides puts SUNY at the forefront of education and workforce development, preparing New York to meet the economic demands of the present and future.