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New York City Expands Apprenticeship Program With Tech Jobs

Mayor Eric Adams plans in his State of the City address to unveil a new push to place 30,000 New Yorkers into apprenticeship programs by 2030 in what would be a significant expansion of the city’s efforts.

New York City
(TNS) — Mayor Adams plans in his State of the City address to unveil a new push to place 30,000 New Yorkers into apprenticeship programs by 2030 in what would be a significant expansion of the city’s efforts.

The new policy, which Adams is expected to announce Thursday, involves the creation of a so-called Apprentice Accelerator and aims to increase the number of apprenticeship postings, as well as broaden the scope to include more tech opportunities, like computer programming and information technology.

“Apprenticeship Accelerator will connect 30,000 New Yorkers to apprenticeships by 2030 and transform our economy for working people,” Adams said Wednesday in a statement to the Daily News. “This is on-the-job experience with an opportunity for permanent employment in high demand careers — and it will ensure employers can tap the talent they need.”

The idea for the accelerator came out of the Future of Workers Task Force, which Adams created in August through an executive order. City officials said it will be implemented in conjunction with the mayor’s Student Pathways initiative, which aims to connect 3,000 students with paid, multi-year apprenticeships.

The apprenticeships the city hopes to create aren’t primarily geared to city jobs. Instead, the accelerator program would act as more of a facilitator to help connect potential apprentices with businesses, unions and training programs.

“It’s really how do we expand the number of apprenticeships overall in this city to serve more industries and more people and really become a pathway for economic mobility for a greater number of New Yorkers,” said Abby Jo Sigal, who heads the Mayor’s Office of Talent and Workforce Development. “Without concentrated focus, it won’t happen.”

Typically, the number of active apprenticeships throughout the entire state is around 18,000 in any given year, Sigal noted. Data on apprenticeships based specifically in the city is less precise though, which is something else Sigal hopes to get a better handle on through the new program.

Early seeds for the apprentice accelerator were laid by Adams in March 2022 when he announced his economic recovery plan for the city. Part of that included a push to revamp the city’s workforce development model.

According to city officials familiar with the apprentice accelerator, the new program is designed to solve two problems: a talent shortage some businesses are now facing and the number of young, low-income city residents struggling to get a foothold into the job market.

It will rely on partnerships with unions, businesses and training providers to reach its goal of placing 30,000 people in apprenticeships within seven years.

Gary LaBarbera, president of the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York, said his group is excited to partner with the city on the plan.

“More widespread commitment and attention to workforce development among employers and contractors is key to not only completing key infrastructure projects that are critical to New York’s economic comeback, but also generating more union job opportunities,” he said.

Traditionally, apprenticeship programs are focused on skills needed for trade work, like carpentry and working as an electrician. The accelerator aims to expand that focus to include computer science-related fields as well, officials said.

The cost of the program is not entirely clear, though. Sigal said arriving at an exact dollar amount is challenging for several reasons. One is that different apprenticeships come with varying price tags, they are typically shared between employers and training providers and, in some cases, federal funding is involved.

“That will be the case here,” she said. “For instance, if we’re able to register more apprenticeships here in New York City, we’ll be able to draw down more federal funding.”

© 2023 New York Daily News. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.