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Gillibrand, Tonko Tout Apprenticeship And Jobs Training Act

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Congressman Paul Tonko were in Albany Friday afternoon to push legislation the two New York Democrats say addresses a skills gap and enhances job training.

In September, U.S. Senator Kirstin Gillibrand and three colleagues announced an updated Apprenticeship and Jobs Training Act. They say the bill would help the next generation of American workers develop skills to secure well-paying, high-demand jobs.  The update of the April measure came after President Obama announced his administration is putting $175 million toward apprenticeship programs across the country.

Last Friday Gillibrand, along with Congressman Paul Tonko, state Senator Neil Breslin and Assemblywoman Pat Fahy, toured McD Metals, LLC at Albany's Corporate Circle, in an effort to push the bill.     "Many communities across our state, including the Capital Region, are still trying hard to rebuild from the recession and trying to make sure our economy is competitive for the 21st Century."

The bipartisan bill would create a $5,000 credit for employers that use apprenticeship programs in professions including health care, manufacturing, and technology. Tonko says there is a “vibrancy” to the manufacturing sector:    "It is a changed area of activity, it is cutting-edge. And for us to be able to compete in a global marketplace, we need to have investments made across all the infrastructure, from capital to physical to human infrastructure. So worker training is essential."

Jeff Stark is president of the Greater Capital Region Building and Construction Trades Council, which has its own apprenticeship program.     "This type of bill is very important to manufacturing, but also our multi-employer plan because this will hopefully position people in manufacturing for our future. It's no secret that there's been a big loss in manufacturing and it is on the comeback, and these are the kinds of tax credits that we can use to be 'built in America' again and not only just union, but 'Made In America.'"

Gillibrand says the legislation will help the U.S. to remain competitive, with an innovative workforce. "90 percent of men and women who have completed an apprenticeship program are employed. 90 percent. The men and women who complete an apprenticeship program have an average starting salary of more then $50k a year. And this is where we see the long-term benefits of the program. On average, the men and women who complete an apprenticeship earn $300,000 more over their lifetime than someone who didn't have the benefits of an apprenticeship program."

Gillibrand's figures are bolstered by a Department of Labor study that found workers who complete apprenticeships earn an average of $240,000 more in wages over a lifetime than job seekers with similar work experience. Stark credits the Cuomo administration with helping the manufacturing resurgence in New York.  "That's good for the economy, it's good for union jobs, it's good for non-union jobs, it's good for workers. And that's what we need. A good paying manufacturing job,  because that was always the base of America. Not sector jobs, service jobs, but manufacturing was our base in America. And that's what made America great. Our great manufacturing sector."

The measure would also allow veterans in apprenticeships to receive credit for previous military training and experience, as well as incentivize the mentoring of apprentices by senior employees.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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