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VIEWPOINT: Celebrating a Well-Rounded, Skilled Workforce

By Will Barclay


Apprenticeship Week is a time when business, education, and government leaders can highlight the impact that workforce training and alternative pathways have on our state and our economy. Celebrated nationally from Monday, Nov. 14 to Sunday, Nov. 20, the week offered individuals a chance to consider some of the important benefits apprenticeship programs have, especially students who want to explore trade work and other highly skilled positions.

In our community, we celebrated the week by showcasing Chloe Bonoffski, who signed an “earn-while-you-learn apprenticeship agreement” with locally owned and operated machine shop N.E.T. & Die, sponsored by MACNY, The Manufacturers Association.

Chloe was a student in the Pathways in Technology Early College High School (P-TECH) program before moving over to the Center for Instruction, Technology & Innovation (CiTi). Now, she has taken a huge step forward in her advanced-manufacturing career with this four-year agreement. 

Stories like Chloe’s are great examples of how a vibrant professional-skills education pipeline can set students up for long-term career success. Our Assembly Minority Conference has been a strong voice for that pipeline, and we have pushed to strengthen it at every level of education. One such effort was our Assembly Minority Task Force on Learning for Work. At a series of several regional task-force forums, we engaged with business and education leaders to discuss important strategies for closing the professional-skills labor gap and ensuring every student has an opportunity to thrive in New York. 

At the conclusion of the forums, the task force published a comprehensive report, including ways to make it easier to certify P-TECH teachers, expand awareness of the P-TECH program, and better integrate professional-skills training into the general public-school education system. As part of that initiative, members of our conference sponsored bill A.8426, which would create a three-part Learning for Work Program, including a youth-apprenticeship program, enhanced Regents professional degree, and youth-apprenticeship tax credit.

Further, I am proud to have co-sponsored bill A.7319 with Assemblyman Josh Jensen (R,C,I-Greece), which would establish a New York State Pathways in Technology Early College High School Program into law and create a funding mechanism to help ensure P-TECH programs thrive.

Well-rounded, effective education is the foundation of a strong workforce. I am hopeful each year we can celebrate more students like Chloe during Apprenticeship Week and continue to build the strong, vibrant workforce that our state needs.          

William (Will) A. Barclay, 53, Republican, is the New York Assembly minority leader and represents the 120th New York Assembly District, which encompasses all of Oswego County, as well as parts of Jefferson and Cayuga counties.