All images © Courtesy of Bricklayers & Allied Craftworkers Local 1
Offering transferable skills in construction, electrical work, plumbing, carpentry, bricklaying, and more, apprenticeships are a great option in Westchester.
Hands-on, practical training allows students and older job seekers to acquire real-world experience and be guided by experienced professionals while they master skills necessary for a specific trade. Throughout Westchester County, there are a multitude of apprenticeships that serve as pathways to long-lasting, reliable employment.
Options range from a pre-apprenticeship that will prepare workers to succeed in a registered apprenticeship program to a paid, on-the-job position as a trainee. The arrangement is a win-win for employers and job seekers alike, as students become skilled workers who fill the labor needs of companies, while benefiting from dynamic instruction that is not confined to the classroom.
The Workforce Development Institute (WDI) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the lives of working people throughout New York State by giving them access to tools for maximizing employment opportunities (while helping companies and organizations grow and retain workers), according to Deryl Beasley, WDI’s Lower Hudson Valley regional director, who is a strong proponent of apprenticeships.
“BOCES provides a lot of the apprenticeship programming that happens in our region, but the larger issue from a WDI perspective is how do we recruit more folks into the trades, because we have a skills gap and a labor shortage gap,” says Beasley. “What we are focusing on now is trying to figure out how to do pre-apprenticeship training to get folks prepared to go into the trades and move into full-time apprenticeships.”
The organization’s recruitment effort aims to raise awareness of the opportunities afforded by a career in the trades, with an emphasis on reaching women and people of color, Beasley adds.
Apprenticeships Offer Transferable Skills
In fields like construction, electrical work, plumbing, carpentry, and bricklaying, among many others, he suggests that job seekers identify and connect with organizations that offer apprenticeships in those fields. “Skills in the trades are definitely a way to go,” Beasley points out. “You can get a great skill that is transferable and you could take it all over the globe if you want — you can work on any kind of project anywhere, and that makes you more valuable in the marketplace.”
“You can get a great skill that is transferable and you could take it all over the globe if you want — you can work on any kind of project anywhere, and that makes you more valuable in the marketplace.”
—Deryl Beasley, Regional Director, Lower Hudson Valley, Workforce Development Institute
Finding specific and current openings is as easy as visiting the New York State Department of Labor’s website (dol.ny.gov/apprenticeship/overview), where users can search for recruitment opportunities according to region and type of trade. (Or turn to the next page for a list of local unions offering apprenticeship and training programs.)
Apprenticeship candidates must be a minimum of 18 years old and are typically required to have a high school diploma. At the end of the training period, apprentices will be rewarded with a “Certificate of Completion,” which is a nationally recognized credential, and in some cases, they can simultaneously earn an associate’s degree, with some additional classroom instruction.
Apprenticeships “are full-time positions from day one; you are working as a full-time paid employee, learning the skill set in your daily employment under the supervision of a journey worker [someone who is fully trained within the trade],” says Daniel Paris, a workforce programs specialist in the Apprentice Training Division at the New York State Department of Labor, “which is then supplemented with related instruction.”
Paris says his department works with organizations, nonprofits, businesses, and unions to establish and monitor registered apprenticeship programs, and works to educate job seekers about the benefits of pursuing this path. Depending on the particular trade, an apprenticeship might last from one to six years.
There has been a growing trend in formal apprenticeships in other areas beyond the building and construction trades, such as the direct support professionals (DSP) field — those who work with the developmentally disabled and other aspects of healthcare, according to Paris, who believes the wide range of options provides a wonderful way to embark on a journey toward a well-paying career.
“It is a unique opportunity to get enrolled into an apprenticeship program because you are being paid, with benefits, toward earning a credential; you are not paying somebody to earn it,” he says. “Whether you have prior college credit or you have no college credit — it is definitely something I would encourage anyone to look at.”