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Workforce Development Board kicks off cyber apprenticeship program

Posted 7/19/17

The Workforce Development Board of Herkimer, Madison and Oneida Counties has used a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor to launch an innovate apprenticeship program to connect young adults with …

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Workforce Development Board kicks off cyber apprenticeship program


The Workforce Development Board of Herkimer, Madison and Oneida Counties has used a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor to launch an innovate apprenticeship program to connect young adults with one of the region’s most vital growth sectors.

In partnership with the Air Force Research Lab in Rome and the adjacent Griffiss Institute, the WDB has created the first-of-its-kind apprenticeship program in New York State in the high-growth field of Information Technology/Cyber-Security.

Working in partnership with the New York State Department of Labor and local partners, the WDB created a new occupation that can be supported through apprenticeships that of software developer.

“The funding that we received from the Department of Labor has allowed us to take the proven concept of apprenticeships and expand it into the fast-growing information technology sector,” said Alice Savino, executive director of the Workforce Development Board.

“Apprenticeships help job-seekers by putting them on a career pathway, and help out employers by creating an earn-and-learn model that address the skills gap. This project helps build a pipeline to feed the demand in one of the most important sectors in Upstate New York,” Savino added.

The new apprenticeship program will be the focus on intensive efforts this summer as 50 apprentices from all over the United States come to Rome to begin their path to the future at Rome Lab and Griffiss Institute. The Software Developer apprenticeship, which includes a mix of hands-on and classroom activities, will begin with the first crop of apprentices working with scientists and engineers at Rome Lab and Griffiss Institute throughout the summer.

In the fall, students will return to college where the apprenticeship will help support their education as they move forward in their long-term development of skills that America – and the Mohawk Valley – need.

Oneida County Executive Anthony J. Picente Jr. said:  “I’m happy to see this breakthrough in the use of apprenticeships taking place here in Oneida County, where our information technology sector is a major part of our economy. Our efforts to use Griffiss Business and Technology Park as a catalyst for a stronger economy are attracting new employers who create new jobs and bring new opportunities to our region. This program works with our efforts to help fast-growing employers train the workers they need.”

The Software Developer apprenticeship is one of the first of a series of IT apprenticeships being developed by the WDB in partnership with the nexus of cybersecurity employers based at Griffiss Park in Rome.

The WDB is working with employers to create additional apprenticeships in Network Security Administrator, Cyber Assurance, Network Security Engineer, IT Administrator and Computer Support Technician.

“We have received outstanding support from Griffiss Institute and Rome Lab to develop this program,” Savino said. “All of our partners devoted extensive time to work with our staff to bring the successful model of apprenticeship into a new era.”

Developing an apprenticeship is a complex process to blending hands-on and classroom activities to meet the standards of a Registered Apprenticeship.

The development of cyber/IT apprenticeships is being supported by Mohawk Valley Community College and Utica College. 

“Apprenticeships are an outstanding way to blend the career-themed academic programs we and our partner colleges offer with the needs of our employers. Higher education is a vital partner in preparing workers for the future. This project continues our partnerships with our employers and other colleges so that we can help our region thrive,” MVCC President Randall Van Wagoner said.

The WBD’s apprenticeship project covers the Nanotechnology, Advanced Manufacturing, Drones and IT/Cyber-Security and focuses on a 19-county swath of Upstate New York, including the counties of: Oneida, Madison, Herkimer, Otsego, Delaware, Chenango, Broome, Cayuga, Chemung, Cortland, Jefferson, Lewis, Onondaga, Oswego, Schuyler, St. Lawrence, Steuben, Tioga, and Tompkins.

For information about the program, employers can contact Apprenticeship Program Director Nate Crossett at

Secretary of Labor Andrew Acosta has said apprenticeships are vital to the national economy.

“The Age of Accelerations calls for demand-driven education that gives men and women the technical skills they need now – and also prepares them to be agile, responsive life-long learners who can acquire new skills in our ever-changing workplace,” he said recently. “Apprenticeships are one key to meeting this challenge. Apprenticeships are a win-win for workers and businesses. They give workers the skills they need today, and – if structured correctly – prepare workers to be lifelong learners ready and able to acquire new skills as the economy continues to change. And apprenticeships give businesses the skilled workers they so desperately need.

“Educational institutions are critical partners in fostering apprenticeships. They have the experience required to teach students both practical skills and habits of learning needed to succeed in the Age of Accelerations. Furthermore, apprenticeship programs often help students pay for their education, reducing student debt, he said, adding that “apprenticeships are a major priority for President Trump and the Department of Labor. We have made a strong commitment to increasing the number of quality apprenticeships, including expansion into high-growth, emerging sectors where apprenticeships have historically been rare.”

The Utica-based WDB coordinates workforce development policy for Herkimer, Madison and Oneida Counties in Upstate New York.


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