Congressman Brian Higgins announced the passage of H.R. 447, the National Apprenticeship Act. The bill invests more than $3.5 billion over the next five years to expand registered apprenticeships, youth apprenticeships and pre-apprenticeships, creating nearly 1 million new apprentice opportunities nationwide.
Higgins said, “As the COVID-19 pandemic continues and our economy suffers, we need reliable, good paying jobs to get workers back on their feet. Apprenticeship programs are incredibly successful at giving workers the opportunity to learn in-demand skills that meet the needs of today’s workforce. This bill creates opportunities for workers and businesses, helping to build a foundation for a stronger economy.”
Apprenticeships are a meaningful, collaborative way to create a skilled workforce, leveraging on-the-job training with classroom instruction. According to the Department of Labor, 94% of people who complete registered apprenticeships (RAs) are employed upon completion, earning an average starting wage of above $70,000 annually.
Western New York has a long history of using registered apprenticeships. There are over 100 such programs in the region, ranging from the building trades – bricklayers, painters, glaziers and construction laborers to manufacturing trades – like machinists and mechanics.
Local organizations are working to train for competitive and emerging sectors of the economy. For example, the Northland Workforce Training Center in Buffalo provides focused training in manufacturing and energy sectors as well as other wraparound services to ensure students graduate and are able enter the workforce successfully. The United Way of Buffalo and Erie County, with the support of $2.9 million U.S. Department of Labor grant, has been able to work with 50 employers in eight counties to create apprenticeships in advanced manufacturing, producing nearly 300 apprentices, many at the Ford Stamping plant in Woodlawn and members of the Buffalo Niagara Manufacturing Alliance.
The bill as passed also includes language Higgins authored to encourage grantees to share best practices for how apprenticeship programs can be development and sustained over time. Higgins proposed the amendment after discussions with the United Way of Buffalo and Erie County for how grant programs could be improved.
Residents seeking additional information on apprenticeship opportunities in Western New York can visit https://www.labor.ny.gov/apprenticeship/sponsor/index.shtm.