The MVCC Apprenticeship Program is kicking-off National Apprenticeship Week (November 15 to 21) with a podcast for manufacturers across New York State. At a time when skilled workers are especially hard to find, the team at Mohawk Valley Community College (MVCC) wants you to know that help is available. MVCC’s Matt Maloy, James Willey, and Jon-David Velletto explain in a new podcast with FuzeHub.
Steve Melito: Welcome to New York State Manufacturing Now, the podcast that’s powered by FuzeHub. I’m your host, Steve Melito. Hey, did you know that next week is National Apprenticeship Week? That’s right. That’s the week of November 15th, 2021 coming up fast. We are here today talking to members of the MVCC Apprenticeship Team at Mohawk Valley Community College in Utica, and we are going to be speaking with James Willey, Matt Malloy, and Jon- David Velletto. Gentlemen, welcome to the podcast.
Jon-David Velletto: Steve, thanks.
Matt Malloy: Hey, Steve, thanks for having us.
Jon-David Velletto: Great to be here.
Steve Melito: You bet.
James Willey: Hey, Steve.
Steve Melito: Hey, workforce is a hot topic these days. Matt, let’s start with you. Can you provide a quick overview of the program?
Matt Malloy: Sure, Steve. Apprenticeship is a collaboration between the New York State Department of Labor who oversees the trades and apprenticeships in general for New York State and with SUNY, State University of New York, headquartered in Albany, which has grants that came down from New York State and the federal government to provide technical training for apprenticeships across New York State. Apprenticeships are exactly what you think they are. They’ve dated back hundreds of years starting with blacksmiths. Nowadays, they’re way more highly technical and require a higher level of technical knowledge to bring your workers into a skilled trade. Skilled trades can vary. There’s over 300 right now with the Department of Labor. New trades can be developed. We’ll get into that a little bit later. But for any particular trade, it combines on- the- job training. A person goes to work at a manufacturer or any company and works their regular day, trains with a mentor, which would be your supervisor that oversees your work. And then, that combines that with what we call related instruction, or that’s classroom training, so college classes. Apprentices are paid a full- time wage. They get the regular benefits like any other worker, and it enhances their skills to enhance employment prospects and the value to the company. Department of Labor has trade outlines for each particular trade, and the benefit of this is a structured, documented training program. So, your first apprentice is going to learn the exact same topics as your second, third, seventh, or 10th apprentice. Rather than having topics overlooked, maybe some apprentices don’t learn A, B, C, and D, they maybe skip C, your following apprentice may skip B and C. With a structured, documented program, all topics are covered and you have the same quality caliber of employee at the completion of the training. Our funding that has come down in the form of a grant is accepted at all community colleges across New York State and provides funding for the related instruction up to $5, 000 per apprentice for each company. There’s also a pre- apprenticeship program, which provides $ 500 to provide training to help get someone up to speed to get into an apprenticeship program. Maybe someone has been out of high school for a long time, never took a lot of math classes, need some tape measure or blueprint training just to enter the apprenticeship program. We can provide a little bit of training to get them up to speed.
Steve Melito: Sounds good, Matt. You mentioned a word that I think a lot of manufacturers are going to hold on to, which is grants. James, how long is the funding available for?
James Willey: Yeah, no, that’s the million dollar question. Our manufacturers want to know how long they have until they can use the funding for training. Right now, we actually have two sources of funding. One ends at the end of 2022, so we obviously have just a little bit over a year left for that. The other one ends in July of 2023. But honestly, we’re very confident that these dates will get extended. We still have a lot of funding left, and we’ve actually seen a lot of manufacturers and other companies outside of manufacturing that have shown a great deal of interest to be involved in apprenticeship. With that being said, we’re very confident that these dates will be extended and our manufacturers and anybody else that wants to go into apprenticeship outside of the construction field, we’ll have time left to actually use these funds from the SUNY Apprenticeship Program.
Steve Melito: Sounds good. Matt, I’d like to go back over to you and talk about occupations and trades. I understand that there’s a listing and they can be essentially on a list of approved trades by the New York State Department of Labor. If a company that has an occupation or trade that’s not listed, what’s the process like?
Matt Malloy: Steve, the process to start a new trade is first to identify with the company and the Department of Labor if the trade is apprenticeable. If they feel it’s a job that can be taught with traditional on- the- job training and a combination of related technical instruction, then that trade could be turned into an apprenticeship. There’s a couple of variables that need to be met. One is that the trade would have to last at least one year, 12 months in duration, and that the related instruction would have to be at least 144 hours at a minimum. The other thing is that the trade would have to be general enough for another company to enlist the same trade. The New York State Department of Labor will help with this process. They’ll come into the company, they’ll do a job study and establish what kind of on-the- job training topics should be covered and what kind of related instruction topics should be covered for this trade. At this point, the DOL will work to write up a trade outline that’ll go through an approval process that will become a new trade, and then the company can sign on.
Steve Melito: Hey Jon, what are some of the new trades that have been approved in? What are some of the more popular trades outside of advanced manufacturing?
Jon-David Velletto: Thanks, Steve. That’s a great question. There are some really exciting things happening with the new trades that are coming to the surface. In advanced manufacturing, there is fiber optic calibration technician, which is recently created by one of our biggest supporters over at Giotto Enterprises, right here in Oriskany, New York. Also, the aircraft refinishing paint Technician trade. That was started by a really cool company right here in Rome, called Strategic Global Aviation. They do painting and maintenance for large contract government and NASA contract and painting. In some of the other areas, one of the newest and most talked about trades is the brewer and distiller trade. That’s a really hot topic right now. That was introduced by Frog Alley Brewing in Schenectady, in conjunction with the New York State Brewers Association. This trade is intended to help train people in basic brewing and fermenting techniques, storage, sanitary practices, everything that you kind of need to know to… You’re not going to become a master brewer, but you are going to become a reliable, trusted employee, able to work towards those next steps to potentially become a master brewer. There’s also a bench jeweler trade, and then this one was created by a company in New York City called Catbird. This one helps to align training for jewelry creation, repair, finishing, jewel setting, various tasks of that nature. There’s also a teacher trade. This trade has recently been created and it’s the first graduate level trade. Primarily, we try to work with community colleges. Most of the trades that are developed, they’re meant to help entry level positions, but this is the first graduate level trade. So, this has allowed us to work with and fund education at Plattsburgh and Empire State College, and has opened the door to some new possibilities as far as higher level, more technical trades. Most recently, there is a fitness instructor trade. This one’s kind of unique because it is the first trade that has several different concentrations. Your first six months is a base that everybody needs to learn, and then you can choose a direction to go in, such as yoga, boxing, MMA, weight training, aerobics. There’s eight or 10 different paths that you could take to become a fitness instructor in a specific area. In the healthcare field, there’s a DSP supervisor, which is relatively new. The direct support professional trade has existed for a while, so this is the first trade that creates a path for two levels of advancement. What this does is it allows the apprentice to receive the funding twice. I don’t think any other trade is really designed to do that. You can do the direct support professional, become a journey worker in that area, use up your $ 5, 000 on the education, and then become a DSP supervisor apprentice where you’ll get a little more in detail as far as the leadership role goes, and you’ll get that $ 5, 000 to use all over again. There’s several culinary trades available right now, which we’re really trying to do some outreach. I think a cook and a chef, I think this program really fits well in those areas. And then, the difference between those two trades, the cook and the chef, is the length and the level of supervisory training that’s required. The chef is a little more involved and you learn a little bit more about management in that one. There’s also a baker trade, which is, I think, one of the oldest apprenticeable trades in the world. We’re looking forward to getting some company started on that one. There’s also butcher trade. That’s one of those classic type of jobs where you really learn from someone experienced, shows you how to do it. We’re looking for related instruction to accompany that trade, and Cobleskill College has a program for that. We’re talking to them about putting a program together to do some outreach there. There’s another one that helps train dairy farmers as well. The IT trades about a year and a half ago, the state put $ 2 million into a fund to support the IT trade. There’s several IT trades. Some of the more popular ones are software developer, network administrator, cloud engineer, and there’s also security analyst, which is a cybersecurity- related trade. So, you can see there’s a lot happening. The DOL really has no limitations on what industries and job titles that they’re willing to take a look at and see if it’s a good fit for apprenticeships.
Steve Melito: Lots of great information, Jon, and lots of great trades. Matt, how has COVID-19 affected apprenticeship, and how have colleges adapted to the pandemic?
Matt Malloy: Yes, Steve. COVID- 19 has drastically changed how colleges are operating now. A lot of the instruction has gone remote for people’s safety, and the colleges have had to adapt by creating more online training availability. SUNY really has a big initiative to create more online content accessible to all of the community colleges across the state. But of course, we all know that labs are a hard thing to put online. If you’re in the trades and you work with machining or welding or cook trade, electricity, things that you need to do with your two hands and physically do in a lab, very difficult to turn everything completely online. What SUNY and the community colleges have done has drastically made changes to their labs to accommodate for this. They’ve implemented safe barriers in between work stations, mandated safe distancing, mask wearing, and they’ve also come up with new vaccine requirements. MVCC in particular has created a basic maintenance technician academy. This is a series of courses for the trades that are accessible online and done at a student’s own pace. But like I say, the lab portions, it’s a matter of you still have to get your roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty to do the work and to learn the material in a physical real setting. So, it’s been a matter of where we have to just be as safe as we possibly can because your math courses, your blueprint reading, your science, your metallurgy can all be done online, but I’ve yet to see anyone weld online.
Steve Melito: That’s for sure. Great point, Matt. Jon, let’s go back over to you. Usually, how long are the registered apprenticeship trades in New York State?
Jon-David Velletto: Great. Yeah, so people want to know what am I getting into, what’s the commitment. It varies from trade to trade. Most of the healthcare trades are relatively shorter, between one and two years. Each year roughly allows you two semesters of related instruction based on the standard semester schedule that most SUNY schools have. The culinary trades, they vary as well. The chef trade could be three to four years, depending on which one you choose. There’s a couple different variations we’re working on right now. We submitted a request to create just a standard two- year cook trade, which is a little more. It’ll fit a wider variety of establishments. It just gives you more of a… I don’t want to say basic overview, but doesn’t cover some of the things that might not be necessary for your everyday cook at a mom- and- pop restaurant or a company like Sodexo or somebody who does dining at hospitals and schools. That trade will be two years standard. It’ll give you four semesters of college. It’s going to give you a really good opportunity to build a foundation to advance your career. Some of the manufacturing trades, they could be a little longer. There are ones that run 16 months or so, and they go up to four years. Again, it depends on how in- depth the training is, what’s necessary for the apprentice to learn. For the IT trades and also a lot of the newer trades that are coming out, those are competency based. That’s a whole nother model. There really isn’t any timeframe, though the DOL does like to see them… It is a minimum of a year, and they do like to see them completed in less than two years. But that requires the completion of a competency test, which would be an industry- recognized test at the end of your apprenticeship.
Steve Melito: That sounds good. Matt, four or five years for a trade sounds like a long time. Is there a shorter trade and what would be the advantages of doing a shorter trade?
Matt Malloy: Sure. Four or five years is a long time. It’s a long time for a company to invest in an individual, especially if that individual is new and the company isn’t so sure about them. If you have an individual that has already been with the company, let’s say five or 10 years, they’re a fantastic employee. They show up every day. They don’t call them every Monday. You may say, “We would like to upskill you. A program for four or five years may work perfectly.” Someone newer to the program, you may say, “Well, we’d want to invest four or five years.” So, we do have a trade that’s 16 months in length. That’s the industrial manufacturing technician. This trade is nice because 16 months is easier for both the company to invest in and the employee. The employee may say, ” Yeah, I’ll try it out for 16 months. I don’t really have much to lose. I don’t know if I want to stick around for four or five years.” 16 months, get your feet in the water, gets you some training. Not all companies are cookie cutter. Not all companies require the exact same type of training. This allows for quite a bit of flexibility. It’s industrial manufacturing technician. Whether we’re making soup cans or sneakers or hats, we can train that person to work in our facility and to learn the topics that we would like them to learn. It’s very customizable. You still get the $5, 000 per individual training funds, and that $5, 000 will actually go well past the 16- month period. So if your apprentice is for 16 months, they complete the program, they become a journey worker, they receive their journey worker card, they will still have school funds left over to use and they’re most certainly welcome to do that. As long as those classes that they take are somewhat tied into their job, they can continue going to school and using our funds. So nice short trade, try it out. Maybe the company then will decide, ” Hey, this worked out good. We’re going to try a different trade that is maybe longer in length.”
Steve Melito: Sounds good. James, where do the apprentices come from?
James Willey: Yeah, no, this is a great question, because it’s actually brought up at every single employer meeting that we have. After talking about it for a little while, I think that is the primary question, ” Where am I going to get these candidates from?” But just like any other position at any company, it is the responsibility of the company to hire this individual. If a company can identify an individual that has potential to be trained and that could be a good worker, that would be an ideal apprentice candidate. Primarily any work candidate, honestly, but obviously, we’re talking about apprenticeship here. Once they’re hired, the apprentice can be placed into an apprenticeship program by going through the New York State Department legal process. Unfortunately, right now, we don’t have the resources in our office to provide the service. The service to find and provide ready- to- work candidates. There’s a slight misconception that we have ready- to- work apprentices that can be pulled out of a bag for an employer if you have. They may be disappointed and sometimes learn that we don’t provide the actual apprentices to the employer. However, we’re always working with partners and looking to make these connections with other organizations in our area and around the state to assist these employers on findings these individuals.
Steve Melito: Sounds good. And then, James, last question, where can people go for more information?
James Willey: There’s actually a few different locations. Obviously, you can email myself, Matt, or Jon. We can provide our contact information during this podcast or on the FuzeHub website. You can visit the official MVCC apprenticeship website. There’s an easy way of doing that. It’s just going to google. com and searching MVCC apprenticeships. We should be that first link that pops up in that search. You could also visit the official SUNY apprenticeship website. Same thing. You can do that simply by googling apprenticeship programs at SUNY, and that should be the first link that pops up. You can visit New York State Department of Labor apprenticeship website. Same thing as the other two, you can start by googling New York State Department of Labor apprenticeship. That should be the first link that should pop up. These are very good resources that you can find, many different sources of information, including videos. I know we’ve gone to a couple high schools and shown videos right out of our website, because they’re very informative to these individuals. They’re very short videos, they’re informative, so they get to the point. At the end of it, if anybody has any questions, they can contact myself, Matt, or Jon as well for more information.
Steve Melito: Fantastic. Hey, what a great podcast and what an important one at a time when workforce talent seems to be in short supply. There are solutions. You can hire apprentices. And we have been talking today in honor of National Apprenticeship Week with the MVCC Apprenticeship Team at Mohawk Valley Community College in Utica. We’ve been here with James Willey, Matt Malloy, and Jon- David Velletto, and I hope everybody got a lot out of this podcast. James, you gave some great information about how to find more information. So if you’re looking, really probably the easiest way is go to Google. Look up the MVCC Apprenticeship Program or MVCC apprenticeships, and you’ll be sure to get where you need to be. On behalf of New York State Manufacturing Now, the podcast powered by FuzeHub, I’m your host, Steve Melito, signing off.