Press Release

Senator Gillibrand and Congressman Tonko Announce New Legislation to Address Skills Gap, Enhance Job Training with Apprenticeship Programs

Nov 20, 2015

Albany, NY – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and U.S. Representative Paul Tonko announced 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.”

“It is estimated that there are up to 5.5 million unfilled jobs in America, and our goal to match them with the unemployed relies on addressing the skills gap that we see every day in our nation.  This legislation does that,” said U.S. Representative Paul Tonko. “Encouraging business owners through targeted tax cuts to accomplish this mission helps our economy, helps the unemployed, and ultimately helps employers to gain access to a new, highly skilled American workforce. I thank Senator Gillibrand for her tireless efforts to move the versatile Capital Region economy forward, as well as her efforts statewide to improve paychecks for the middle-class and those struggling to enter it.”

“McD Metals is excited to support the Apprenticeship and Jobs Training Act of 2015 along with Senator Kirsten Gillibrand,” said Jasek Wozniak, Operations Manager of MCD Metals, LLC. “We see this legislation as a great opportunity for next generation and veterans to enter the industry and learn the trade first hand from some of the best skilled tradesman’s and tradeswoman out there. The mentoring and training that these apprentices will receive will quickly translate to higher paying jobs in an industry that we believe is continuing to expand.”

“For years unions have provided rigorous apprenticeship programs that train workers with the skills needed to build the infrastructure and operate the equipment that keeps America running,” said Jeff Stark, President of the Greater Capital Region Area Building Trades. “This legislation is one more tool that can ensure we have training programs to deliver a workforce with the innovative skills to meet the global demands of business in a competitive, constantly evolving economy.” 

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.

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.