Press Release

At Workforce Development Event Senator Gillibrand Announces New Legislation To Address Skills Gap, Enhance Job Training With Apprenticeship Programs

Jun 22, 2015

Syracuse, NY –  During an event at Onondaga Community College to address growing workforce demands in New York State’s growing food and beverage manufacturing industry, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand announced new legislation to address the skills gap employers face and enhance job training to help workers develop the skills they need for good-paying, high-demand jobs. The bipartisan Apprenticeship and Jobs Training Act of 2015 would create a $5,000 tax credit for employers that use apprenticeship programs to train workers in high-demand professions such as health care, manufacturing and technology. The bill also would allow veterans in apprenticeships to get credit for previous military training and experience, as well as incentivize mentoring of apprentices by senior employees.

“If we want our businesses to expand, create new jobs and spur growth in our economy, then we must make sure they have access to a well-trained, highly skilled workforce.” said Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, “This new bipartisan legislation would incentivize employers to provide on-the-job training for workers, connect veterans with jobs that match their skills and military experience and encourage senior employees to mentor and train new employees. I’ll continue to push for policies that help our businesses expand while putting more New Yorkers to work.”

“We know that apprenticeships work, that’s why the Obama Administration is investing $100 million this year to expand apprenticeships across the country to new industries and occupations.” said Eric Seleznow, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor for Employment and Training. “With the passage of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, we’re placing even greater emphasis on work-based learning opportunities, like apprenticeships, so that workers and employers in New York can utilize the best method to prepare for high-skilled, high-demand 21st century jobs.”

“Onondaga Community College is honored to serve as host for Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, employers, community agencies, and workforce development organizations for the ‘Meeting the Workforce Needs of the Food Processing Industry’ summit, sponsored by the New York Association of Training and Employment Professionals,” said Onondaga Community College President Dr. Casey Crabill. “As the ‘community’s college’ our mission is to serve and respond to the needs of our region. Through our Workforce Development program we will be training students for employment in skilled, good-paying jobs, including those in the agribusiness and food processing industry. We are proud to be part of the solution for this grow

“The secret to successful workforce development is a deep connection between business, education & training providers, and the workforce system,” said Melinda Mack, Executive Director, New York Association of Training and Employment Professionals. “Today’s event is a great example of partnership and leadership on behalf of industry and the workforce field. We are grateful for the Senator’s continued support of education and training, and excited to be part of the momentum to encourage and expand apprenticeship models across the State.”

“Cornell Cooperative Extension is excited about the opportunities to engage with the Apprenticeship and Jobs Training Act of 2015 cosponsored by Senator Gillibrand” said Chris Watkins, Director of Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE).  “We are confident that CCE can contribute further to economic success of New York based on the experience of the Harvest New York program in which we have partnered with the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and SUNY campuses to provide educational training opportunities for future employees of New York State’s growing food and beverage manufacturing industry.”

“On behalf of Cornell University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, I applaud Senator Gillibrand’s co-sponsorship of the Apprenticeship and Jobs Training Act of 2015,” said Kathryn J. Boor, the Ronald P. Lynch Dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. “Cornell has been supporting New York State food and beverage producers for more than 150 years through innovative outreach and we welcome this initiative as an important means to creating a vital regional economy.”

“This summit showcases the importance of public-private partnerships to meet the workforce needs across different levels in a growing Food & Beverage Industry across NYS,” said Tristan Zuber, a Dairy Foods Specialist with Cornell Cooperative Extensions Harvest New York program. “Cornell has been collaborating with NYATEP and the food and beverage manufacturing industry to address these needs by working with various community colleges and training entities to broaden our reach for continued production of safe and wholesome products by well-trained employees in NYS. We will continue to support the industry by addressing future workforce needs that will enable the support of economic development in this sector.”

Apprenticeship programs benefit both the employer and the employee, and 9 in 10 people who complete apprenticeships are employed, with apprenticeship completers having an average starting wage of over $50,000 a year and earning on average $300,000 more in lifetime wages than those with similar backgrounds who don’t according to a 2012 study by Mathematica Policy Research. There were 685 registered apprenticeship programs in New York State as of the end of Fiscal Year 2014 that provide training to more than 16,000 apprentices across the state in more than 130 fields ranging from electricians and machinists to counseling aides and school safety agents.

The food and beverage manufacturing industry plays an important role to the state’s economy. For every job in food manufacturing, 1.91 jobs are created in support of the industry. From 2009 to 2014, food manufacturing jobs grew 9.8 percent to over 52,000 statewide, which was four times faster job growth than the nation as a whole. New York State is projected to see more than a six percent growth over the next five years, creating new job opportunities according to recent research from Cornell University. At the same time, much of the food and beverage manufacturing industry’s workforce is aging close to retirement, with approximately half of the industry’s workers currently at the age of 45 or older, suggesting that a wave of job openings is fast approaching. In order to ensure the continued growth of this important industry for the state, skill development programs like apprenticeships are critical to training the next generation of workers.

Gillibrand is a cosponsor of the legislation S.959 first introduced in April by Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Susan Collins (R-ME). The legislation would:

  • Create a $5,000 tax credit based on wages paid by companies who hire individuals enrolled in a Federal or State registered apprentice program.
  • Targets companies who hire a new, full-time apprentices in high-demand, mechanic or technical, healthcare, or technology professions. The apprentice must be employed for at least 7 months before the credit can be claimed. The tax credit can also be claimed as the apprentice works through the program for a maximum of 3 years.
  • Allow veterans to apply their previous training and education hours so their skills are more effectively and more quickly put to use.
  • Allow senior employees near retirement to draw from pensions early if they’re involved in mentoring or training new employees. Workers must be at least 55, and have reduced work hours to spend at least 20 percent of their time training or educating employees or students.