Within the last few years, registered apprenticeship programs have become a growing part of national, state, and regional workforce planning strategies, making them a strong option for building a talent pipeline with advanced skills to operate new and emerging technologies.
As industries like agriculture, health care, cybersecurity, manufacturing and more evolve thanks to technology, employers are experiencing a skills gap. These industries need employees with higher skillsets, but not necessarily a four-year college degree. Registered apprenticeship programs are helping to fill the gap.
In December of 2022, the Mid-Hudson Regional Economic Development Council’s Workforce Development Strategy identified Advanced Manufacturing as one of three priority sectors for workforce strategies. The report explains, “Advanced Manufacturing differs from traditional manufacturing in that it incorporates innovative technologies, such as computation, sensing, and networking, into the production process. Types of Advanced Manufacturing include additive manufacturing/3D printing, advanced/composite materials, robotics/automation, laser machining/ welding, and certain types of nanotechnology.”
It adds, “Many traditional manufacturers in the Region have also adopted value added manufacturing processes that require similar skill sets and training as those in Advanced Manufacturing.” As a result, there’s a big demand for machinists, welders, electrical and mechanical technicians, and semiconductor technicians, along with computer science skills.
While apprenticeships to develop these skills were once reserved for large employers due to the time, expenses and resources required, registered apprenticeships are now accessible to small and medium manufacturing employers as well, thanks to associations like the Council of Industry (COI) and its Manufacturing Intermediary Apprenticeship Program (MIAP).
COI Vice President of Operations & Workforce Development Johnnieanne Hansen spoke with us about how it works. “Let’s say you run a small manufacturing business and you have one or two employees who you would like to upskill so they can successfully operate new and emerging technology, now or somewhere down the line. You would give us a call. We evaluate whether an apprenticeship is a good fit for your needs and, if so, we take care of the compliance end of things – helping you identify schools that meet classroom requirements for registered apprenticeships; completing and submitting the necessary paperwork to register with the NYS DOL; onboarding the new apprentice; and then tracking and documenting progress.”
Without the COI’s support, an employer may find it takes six to nine months to meet all the NYS DOL compliance-related responsibilities to build and register an apprentice program. Because the COI is a DOL-approved sponsor for manufacturing related trades, the timeframe to register an apprentice can take less than a week.
Best of all, the COI provides these services to any manufacturer in the Hudson Valley at no cost. While a COI membership does offer numerous advantages and access to additional resources and information about workforce development and funding opportunities, it is not required. Johnnieanne explains, “We want to remove as many barriers as possible to help employers. Their only investment is their time and their commitment to seeing the apprenticeship program through.”
When it comes to paying related schooling costs as part of an apprenticeship program, all SUNY schools in the Hudson Valley offer up to $5,000 in tuition credits. In addition, New York’s Apprenticeship Expansion Grant program provides awards of up to $15,000/apprentice to help cover program costs. (Applications are accepted on an ongoing basis until August 23, 2024.)
There are also tax benefits. Through 2026, apprenticeship program sponsors and participating employers in New York may be eligible for the Empire State Apprenticeship Tax Credit for each apprentice. In general, the tax credit starts at $2,000/year one and increases by $1,000/year until it reaches $6,000/year five. For disadvantaged youth, the credit starts at $5,000/year one and increases to $7,000/year five. If a mentor counsels an apprentice for an entire year, the credit increases by $500.
For more information about an apprenticeship program, refer to the Registered Apprenticeship in New York State booklet or contact the COI. To help you find time to focus on this, please know RBT CPAs is here to support all of your tax, audit, and advisory needs. Give us a call to learn how we can work together to promote your business success.
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