It is a constant struggle finding good workers. And the good workers you do have, they’re only getting older and older.
There is a way to solve this problem. I have seen businesses improve their current and future workforce concerns by developing well-versed, well-trained employees by utilizing NYDOL Apprenticeship Programs.
Apprenticeship is an industry-driven, high-quality career pathway where employers can develop and prepare their future workforce, while also increasing employee retention.
Apprenticeships have been around for decades. An apprenticeship is a time-honored approach to training skilled workers through a combination of on-the-job and classroom training.
As an apprentice, you are essentially working as a full-time employee earning a salary while learning critical skills for your respected industry — you “earn while you learn.”
Currently in New York state, there are over 18,000 active apprentices and more than 170 available programs across dozens of industries including manufacturing, health care, food and beverage, social services, and the most common and sought after — construction.
When it comes to NY-based construction, apprenticeships are even more valuable to companies, for more than just growing their workforce.
They open the door to bid on more work
There are numerous public-funded projects that will not allow you to bid on them unless you have your own apprenticeship program. State and local municipalities clearly state this requirement in their bid documents.
They reduce labor costs on prevailing wage projects
As soon as you put any of your workers on that job site, you must pay them the journeyman wage, regardless of their skill set.
But if you have an active apprenticeship program, you now pay that employee the apprenticeship wage, which is about 30-50% lower than the hourly wage. It helps you submit a more competitive bid and increase your margins.
(Prevailing Wage: In government contracting, a set wage defined as the hourly wage, usually with benefits and overtime, within a particular area).
Before you start an apprenticeship program, you need to know a few things.
First, you must be in business for at least two years before you can apply to become a “sponsor.” This requirement is to show you are an established company with a history of success in the construction industry.
Next, you will need to know what apprenticeship program you want to sponsor.
Apprenticeship programs are very trade specific. If you self-perform multiple skills, consider the craft that you do more than 60% of the time.
You can sponsor multiple programs, as long as you have the work for that apprentice.
Another thing to consider is your current workforce.
Every apprenticeship program must have at least one mentor to provide guidance/assistance to that apprentice, on a 1:1 ratio.
Looking at your current workforce — excluding the owner(s) — are there any current workers with years of experience, and who are extremely knowledgeable and skilled in your craft?
Is that same person able to show and explain certain on-the-job training techniques?
Once, you’ve figured out which program(s) you want to sponsor and you know how many mentors you have, you can contact your local NY ATR (Apprenticeship Training Representative) to start the application process or you can contact Apprenticeship Connections to walk you through the entire process.