National Apprenticeship Week is here! Join the celebration November 12-18, 2018. National Apprenticeship Week is a national celebration that offers all of us, especially those of us in manufacturing and industry, a chance to demonstrate our support for apprenticeships.
National Apprenticeship Week provides an opportunity for leaders in business and labor, both unionized and not unionized, the opportunity to celebrate their programs; an opportunity to highlight how Registered Apprenticeships meet the nations needs for a skilled workforce.
In New York State we have about 148 different certified trades with apprenticeship programs and presently about six hundred thousand journeyman tradesmen who have completed an apprenticeship and make their living in the trades. This represents only about seven percent of New York’s workforce. Projections are that over 25,000 openings for these skills will be created every year for at least the next decade. Half of these openings are from retirement and the other half are from job growth.
There are presently 686 active apprenticeship programs. The Rochester Technology and Manufacturing Association has a program with eleven trades and 60 apprentices in it. Optimation, where I work, has programs in 5 trades with 20 apprentices that we support to grow our own workforce of qualified skilled workers.
For a period of time interest in the trades was shrinking. It appears to be growing again. When we advertised for 6 openings in our program during the summer we had over 120 applications. Many of the applicants have college degrees already, not all of them in technical fields. But they now realize that technology may provide the employment stability they need.
Revitalizing manufacturing is one of the keys of revitalizing the New York State economy and the US economy. The average age of skilled trades workers in NY is several years higher than that of the average worker. They will retire sooner, depleting the skill pool. A proficient growing trade program is essential to making this happen.
At Optimation, bringing manufacturing back to the United States is our passion. A successful apprenticeship program is only one small part of what we need to do to make this happen. During National Apprenticeship Week and during the other 51 weeks of the year we celebrate apprentices.
Education about the opportunities is an important part of recruiting new participants. We do know that having a role model is the reason that many young people chose their career. As there are fewer employees in the trades there are also fewer role models. It then falls on us and our schools to carry the ball. BOCES is one of the places the seed can be planted. Explorer posts and other technical focused clubs can also help. I encourage you to add to the buzz whenever you have a chance. Encourage someone you know to join an apprenticeship, create a new career for themselves, and help to rebuild our country.