Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) was in Syracuse this week promoting legislation that will give employers a $5,000 tax credit for training workers in an apprenticeship program in high-demand industries. Gillibrand said as the number of high-skilled jobs increase, employers are struggling to fill them.
Healthcare, manufacturing and technology are some of the areas that could receive the tax credit for creating apprenticeships. Speaking to a food processing conference at Onondaga Community College, Gillibrand said 90 percent of workers who completed an apprenticeship are employed with an average starting salary of more than $50,000.
“If you ask, any advanced manufacturing in New York, they will tell you, they can't get the engineers they need, they can't get the advanced welders, they can't get the advanced technicians," Gillibrand said. "They know directly that there is this workforce gap that if they could begin to solve over time, I think they would be willing to try it.”
Gillibrand said technology related industries are promoting agriculture in New York and pointed to the growth in yogurt production that has boosted the dairy industry.
“So there's tons of technology related industries that are promoting agribusiness and agriculture that I think could be a huge benefit for New Yorkers," Gillibrand said. "But the other areas that we constantly need training in is healthcare.”
Gillibrand said eight out of nine of the fastest growing industries require proficiency in STEM fields or science, technology, engineering and math. An apprenticeship can give hands-on training to workers. Gillibrand said those who complete apprenticeships, on average, earn about $300,000 more, over the course of their careers, than those who do not.
Apprenticeships growing in many different industries
Eric Seleznow, the deputy assistant secretary of the Employment and Training Administration at the U.S. Department of Labor says President Barack Obama dedicated $100 million to develop apprenticeship programs.
“Sorry community college people but apprenticeship programs have higher completion rates than community college does and probably high completion rates than four years do," Seleznow said. "It is the other college, without the debt.”
Seleznow said apprenticeships in the past have been associated with labor unions, carpenters and plumbers but the education model is now being used in many different industries including information technology, healthcare, cyber security and the food industry.
“There are so many examples across this country of IT and healthcare and cybersecurity," Seleznow said. "There's tons of examples across this country in the food industry. Campbell's Soup, Pepperidge Farm have done it. We're working with UPS, CVS on pharmacy technology.”
Seleznow said employers can also use federal financial aid and federal work study to fund apprenticeship training and employment.