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Democratic Congressional candidate Anthony J. Brindisi of Utica unveiled his blueprint to strengthen Career and Technical Education (CTE) training programs during a visit at the Plumber and Pipefitters Union Local 112 in Binghamton.
Brindisi said that CTE training programs can often lead graduates to good-paying “middle skills” jobs in the trades and skilled manufacturing.
The Utica assemblyman is challenging incumbent Republican Claudia L. Tenney, New Hartford, for her Congressional seat in the 22nd District.
“As I travel the district, I meet business owners in different fields that tell me they have an aging workforce, and an increasing number of job openings, but a lack of skilled applicants to fill vacancies,” Brindisi said.
“They are looking for people with a high school degree and training, but they do not require someone with a bachelor’s degree. Unfortunately, for the three and a half million manufacturing jobs expected to be available nationally over the next decade, two million will be left vacant if we don’t better address the skills gap,” the Utica
Brindisi said the staffing company Aerotek reported in October job openings in the skilled trade field are now at a 10-year high nationally, and that by 2020, there will be even more openings in these areas.
For example, Brindisi said, there are a reported 80,000 people hired for maintenance positions in manufacturing every month, with a 4 percent increase projected in jobs by 2020; and 41,000 electricians are now being hired every month, and that number is expected to increase by five percent by 2020.
The average salary for an industrial machinery mechanic in 2016 was $51,900, while electricians averaged $56,650, he added.
In New York, the National Skills Coalition estimates about half of the job openings over the next decade in the state will be in “middle skills” jobs, but only 38 percent of the state’s workforce is trained to fill them.
The New York State Board of Regents approved a new CTE diploma in New York in October 2014, Brindisi said, after a two-year long push.
The CTE diploma provides an alternate pathway to graduation, including the opportunity for apprenticeships and certification in a skilled or technical field and the chance to earn college credits, the assemblyman said.
“At a time when opportunities in skilled trades and manufacturing are abundant, the federal government simply must not starve CTE programs of the funding they need to train tomorrow’s workers,” Brindisi said.
“The proposed White House budget for 2018 would cut CTE program funding by 13 percent, eliminating $170 million from investing in our workforce, and also proposes slashing $92 million cut in Adult Education State Grants,” the Utica Democrat added.
“I’m here to say we should be doing the opposite, and increase funding for these programs. I am pledging if elected to Congress, I will work on both sides of the aisle to put more investment in CTE, so we can replace retiring workers in the trades, now, and encourage more apprenticeship programs to train the next generation of our workforce,” Brindisi said.