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Expanding Apprenticeships in NYC

Data - November 2021

Expanding Apprenticeships in NYC

While New York State has made significant progress in expanding apprenticeships since 2018, New York City has seen little growth. With renewed support, the city has the opportunity to leverage this high-impact training model and make apprenticeships in high-growth industries like tech and healthcare a key component of an inclusive economic recovery.

by Laird Gallagher and Eli Dvorkin

Tags: apprenticeships economic opportunity workforce development human capital tech albany data

With unemployment rates still hovering near 10 percent—nearly three times the rate prior to the pandemic—New York City faces a long road to economic recovery. Amid these challenges, the city has a historic opportunity to harness the power of apprenticeships to get more New Yorkers back to work and building careers in the industries driving the city’s economic rebound. But while New York State has made significant progress in expanding registered apprenticeship programs over the past several years, relatively little of that growth has taken place in New York City—and even less in high-demand fields outside of the building trades.

New research from the Center for an Urban Future finds that while the number of active registered apprenticeship programs in New York State has grown by 29 percent over the past three years, increasing from 739 programs in June 2018 to 950 programs in September 2021, New York City’s total has barely budged, with a net increase of just four programs. Over 98 percent of the growth in New York State registered apprenticeship programs since 2018 has occurred outside the five boroughs.

Nationwide, there has been a renewed push not only to expand traditional trades apprenticeships but also to create new apprenticeship programs in high-growth industries like information technology, healthcare, and logistics that are facing complex workforce challenges. New York State has had some success growing apprenticeships outside the building trades and manufacturing, adding 13 active registered tech apprenticeship programs from June 2018 to May 2021, including Cloud Engineer, Security Analyst, Software Developer, Network Engineer, and Data Analyst. But during the same period, New York City has added just one: a Computer Support Technician apprenticeship sponsored by Hostos Community College. Today, just 2 of the state’s 14 tech apprenticeships are in New York City.

Even as New York City employers continue to hire for thousands of high-wage jobs in sectors such as tech and healthcare, 83 of the city’s 92 active registered apprenticeship programs—over 90 percent—are in the building trades. While apprenticeships play a crucial role in providing New Yorkers with onramps into the trades, this model also offers significant untapped potential to expand access to well-paying jobs outside construction and manufacturing. Apprenticeship programs also help employers recruit, develop, and retain a talented and diverse workforce, and nationwide the model is increasingly used in growing industries and occupations like healthcare, clean energy, data analytics, and cybersecurity.

Built to match worker skills-building with the immediate needs of employers and industries, the apprenticeship model is a powerful tool for economic mobility—opening career paths to people with limited education by allowing them to earn a salary while training on the job and in the classroom. But this tool has been largely unrealized by New York City. Despite making up 43 percent of the state’s total population and 47 percent of all jobs, New York City has less than 10 percent of the state’s apprenticeship programs. Out of 950 programs statewide, just 92 active registered apprenticeship programs are located in New York City, as of June 2021. New York City now ranks fifth out of New York State’s ten regions in the number of active registered apprenticeship programs--behind the Finger Lakes region (which has 156 active registered apprenticeships), the Capital Region (123 apprenticeships), Central New York (123), and Western New York (116).

Similarly, New York City trailed well behind most other regions in the growth of registered apprenticeships over the past three years. Statewide, the number of active registered apprenticeships increased by 29 percent since 2018, but in the five boroughs the rate of increase was just 4 percent. Most regions far surpassed this growth rate, including the Mohawk Valley (where the number of registered apprenticeships increased by 124 percent), the North Country (47 percent), the Capital Region (45 percent), the Southern Tier (40 percent increase), Central New York (39 percent), the Mid-Hudson (32 percent), and the Finger Lakes (28 percent). Only Western New York (2 percent) had a lower rate of growth than New York City.

New York State Registered Apprenticeship Programs by Region (2018–2021)
Region6/20189/2021# Growth% Growth
Finger Lakes1221563428%
New York City889245%
Southern Tier57802340%
Long Island758057%
North Country45662147%
Mohawk Valley255631124%

To fully take advantage of this powerful model and catch up with the significant progress made by the rest of the state, New York City should invest in expanding apprenticeships beyond the building trades and into the high-growth industries like tech, healthcare, and the life sciences.

But the city can’t do this alone. While New York State has made a laudable push to boost apprenticeship programs statewide, very few of the state’s new investments have targeted New York City. Under former Governor Cuomo, New York allocated $25 million since 2019 to grow apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs across New York, including more than $3 million for programs at the State University of New York (SUNY). But only a small fraction of that funding has made it to New York City, including less than $1 million for programs at the City University of New York (CUNY).

By working together, New York City and State can seize on a major opportunity to leverage this high-impact career pathway model and make apprenticeships a key component of an equitable economic recovery, especially with renewed support from Washington. President Biden has made apprenticeships a cornerstone of his “Build Back Better” agenda. By June 2021, the federal Department of Labor had awarded over $315 million in new grants to bolster employment and training programs, including $130 million specifically to develop, modernize and diversify registered apprenticeship programs.The National Apprenticeship Act of 2021, which passed in the House in February, would invest $3.5 billion in expanding apprenticeships over the next five years.2

But even absent new federal support, New York City’s next mayor can work closely with Governor Hochul to ramp up the use of apprenticeship programs to springboard thousands more New Yorkers into good-paying and secure careers in the post-pandemic economy. At the state level, Governor Hochul should set a goal of launching 100 new apprenticeship programs in New York City and training 5,000 New York City residents through apprenticeships by 2025, aggressively recruit employers large and small to embrace the apprenticeship model, and back up this bold expansion plan with a $20 million investment over the next four years.

The state should work with the next mayor to establish an NYC Apprenticeship Accelerator, where CUNY leaders, employers, union officials, and workforce development organizations can partner to develop and launch new registered apprenticeships in the city’s fastest-growing fields. To encourage greater participation among employers, Governor Hochul should direct the state Department of Labor and Empire State Development to launch a major new “Apprenticeship Now” campaign, marketing the seriously underutilized Empire State Apprenticeship Tax Credit (for registered apprenticeship) and Employee Training Incentive Program (for unregistered models) to New York City employers; partner with leading employers offering high-quality unregistered programs to recruit additional firms; and add New York City-based employers in fields outside the building trades and manufacturing to the state’s Apprenticeship and Training Council.

Likewise, the next mayor of New York City should enter office prepared to champion the expansion of apprenticeship programs in all five boroughs—and go beyond the modest goals of the current administration. To date, New York City has pledged to create 450 apprenticeships in the industrial, health, and tech industries between 2018 and 2021. But so far the initiative has resulted in the creation of just one full-fledged registration-eligible apprenticeship, for CNC machinists. With an investment of $25 million, the next mayor can work closely with the governor to launch 100 new apprenticeship programs in growing fields and industries and commit to training 5,000 New York City residents through apprenticeships by 2025—laying the groundwork for a strong new pathway to well-paying careers as part of the city’s economic rebound from the COVID-19 crisis.

The State of Apprenticeships in New York

This new data brief, which serves as an update to the Center for an Urban Future’s The Promise of Apprenticeships (September 2018), provides a detailed analysis of the state of registered apprenticeships in New York City and State. It also sets outlines several achievable steps that state and local policymakers, business leaders, and workforce development practitioners can take to boost apprenticeships, especially in New York City.

New York State had 19,074 active apprenticeships in FY 2020, the most recent year for which data is available from the U.S. Department of Labor. This is the sixth-highest number of any state, but a relatively small total for a state with a labor force of 9.2 million as of September 2020. In fact, New York had just 0.21 apprenticeships per worker in 2020, tying for 34th with Kentucky and Tennessee. California has roughly double the labor force of New York State, but over five times the number of active apprentices at 96,579. In 2017, Delaware had just 1,164 apprentices compared to New York’s 16,980. But while New York increased its active apprentices by just 2,094 people since our last analysis, Delaware’s total grew by 4,684. This puts New York in 8th place for numeric growth in apprenticeships from 2017 to 2020, but 22nd place in the percentage growth. New York expanded apprenticeships by just 12 percent, while 14 states exceeded 20 percent growth over the same period.

States with Greatest Number of Active Apprentices, 2020
South Carolina17,60920,715
New York16,98019,074
States with Highest Growth in Active Apprentices (2017-2020)
RankState20172020# growth
2North Carolina6,12412,0045,880
5South Carolina17,60920,7153,106
8New York16,98019,0742,094
States with Highest Percent Growth in Active Apprentices (2017-2020)
RankState20172020% growth
2Rhode Island5232,373353.73%
4North Carolina6,12412,00496.02%
7New Mexico1,5302,36454.51%
22New York16,98019,07412.33%

New York State performed better when it came to expanding programs. The state ranks ninth among all states in the number of registered apprenticeship programs, with 942 programs in FY2020, far behind Virginia (2,545 programs) and its much smaller neighbors Connecticut (1,759) and Massachusetts (1,714). New York barely edges out New Jersey (936 programs). After several years of little to no growth, from 2017 to 2020 New York increased the number of apprenticeship programs by just under 30 percent, placing twelfth in four-year growth but overshadowed by the 342 percent growth rate recorded by California. New York’s addition of 217 programs from 2017 to 2020 placed it in seventh in numerical growth, behind California, Virginia, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Montana, and South Carolina.

Table Group #3: Apprenticeship Programs

States with Greatest Number of Apprenticeship Programs, 2020
4South Carolina9641,183
9New York725942
10New Jersey727936
States with Highest Growth in Apprenticeship Programs (2017-2020)
RankState20172020# Growth
6South Carolina9641,183219
7New York725942217
8New Jersey727936209
9North Carolina568741173
States with Highest Percent Growth in Apprenticeship Programs (2017-2020)
RankState20172020% Growth
8South Dakota10013535.00%
12New York72594229.93%
New York State Registered Apprenticeships, 2011-2020
YearApprenticeshipsChangePrograms# Change

New York State Apprenticeship Programs by Region

Within the state as of September 2021, the Finger Lakes region, which includes Rochester and the surrounding area, had the most active registered apprenticeship programs, with 156. The Capital Region—home to Albany and eight adjacent counties— and Central New York tied for second, with 123 programs, followed by Western New York (116), New York City (92), Southern Tier (80), Long Island (80), North Country (66), Mid-Hudson (58), and Mohawk Valley (56).

While every region has notched an increase in active registered apprenticeship programs since June 2018, some regions have barely moved the needle while others have seen explosive growth. Central New York added 39 programs, growing from 84 programs in 2018 to 123 in September 2021, the most of any region. The Mohawk Valley grew its apprenticeship program roster by 124 percent, increasing from 25 programs in 2018 to 56 in 2021. The Captial Region, Finger Lakes, and Mohawk Valley all added more than 30 programs. But Long Island added just five programs, New York City added just four, and Western New York only two.

New York State Apprenticeship Programs by Region and Sector (September 2021)
RegionBuilding TradesManufacturingTechHealthcare/Life SciencesOtherTotal
Finger Lakes7475007156
Western NY7143002116
New York City83223292
Southern Tier452801680
Long Island78200080
North Country262930866
Mohawk Valley162760756

*Does not include three active programs registered out of state

Across all regions of New York State, apprenticeships in the building trades (579 programs) and manufacturing (285) make up the vast majority of active programs, comprising 864 of 950 programs, or 91 percent. But several regions have shifted their balance to include a greater share of tech, healthcare/life sciences, and other apprenticeships. Fully 20 percent of the Capital Region’s active apprenticeship programs are outside of the building trades and manufacturing. In the Mohawk Valley, tech apprenticeship programs now make up 11 percent of active programs. New programs in tech, healthcare, the life sciences, robotics, and the care economy have driven the growth in registered apprenticeships across New York State over the past three years. In 2021 alone, new programs for Electronics Mechanic, Cloud Engineer, Direct Support Professional, Chemical Laboratory Technician, Childcare Assistant, and Fiber Optic Calibration Technician have been approved—but none have been in New York City.

Registered Apprenticeship Programs in New York City 

As of September 17, 2021, there are 92 active registered apprenticeships in New York City and 950 total in New York State, according to the New York State Department of Labor.

In all of New York City, there are only two active, registered tech apprenticeships, two for Computer Support Technician, sponsored by the Borough of Manhattan Community College and Hostos Community College, respectively.

There are just three registered apprenticeships in the healthcare sector, two for  Community Health Worker, sponsored by 1199SEIU and Hostos Community College, respectively, and one for Hospital (Medical) Coder, sponsored by 1199SEIU. 

And there are just four other registered apprenticeships outside of the building and construction trades: Diesel Engine Mechanic, sponsored by the Consortium for Worker Education; Millwright, sponsored by the Carpenter's JATC of NYC & Vicinity; Plant Maintenance—Electrician, sponsored by JATC Lighting Maintenance Association LU #3; and School Safety Agent, sponsored by the School Safety division of the NYPD.

The other 83 out of 92 apprenticeships are in building maintenance and construction trades—fully 90 percent of all active registered apprenticeship programs in the city.

From June 2018 to July 2021, New York City gained 14 new registered apprenticeships: six Electrician apprenticeships, two Community Health Worker apprenticeships,  one Computer Support Technician apprenticeship, one Hospital (Medical) Coder apprenticeship, one HVAC mechanic apprenticeship, one Site Safety Manager apprenticeship, one Carpenter apprenticeship, and one Skilled Construction Craft Laborer apprenticeship.

But over the same period, 14 New York City-based apprenticeship programs were deregistered, all in the building trades: 8 Electrician apprenticeships, 3 Carpenter apprenticeships, one Plumber apprenticeship, one Skilled Craft Construction Laborer apprenticeship, and one Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Mechanic apprenticeship.

There are nine registered apprenticeships in New York City that are pending approval. Six were submitted in 2021. Three are healthcare apprenticeships sponsored by the Staten Island Performing Provider System and sited at the College of Staten Island: Alcohol and Substance Abuse Counselor, Certified Nursing Assistant, and Community Health Worker; two are Electrician apprenticeships; and one is an Elevator/Escalator Constructor & Modernizer apprenticeship. Three additional healthcare apprenticeships were submitted in 2018 by 1199SEIU but are yet to be approved as of June 2021: Certified Central Sterile Processing Technician, Certified Nursing Assistant, and Medical Laboratory Technologist. These three apprenticeships would receive instruction at LaGuardia Community College, CUNY SPS, and Bronx Community College.

By comparison, the rest of New York State added 12 registered apprenticeship programs in the technology sector from June 2018 to May 2021, including Cloud Engineer, Security Analyst, Software Developer, Network Engineer, and Data Analyst. Over the same period, the rest of the state also added 12 Electro-Mechanical Technician apprenticeships in advanced manufacturing and robotics. And while still small, outside NYC there are now three registered apprenticeships in the life sciences, including a Chemical Laboratory Technician program located in the Capital Region, sponsored by GlaxoSmithKline and approved in January 2021; and five registered programs in healthcare across two occupations: Community Health Worker and Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Counselor Aide.

As recent Center for an Urban Future research has shown, demand for tech and healthcare positions has driven hiring growth throughout the pandemic. In particular, the continued strength of tech hiring during the pandemic suggests that tech has become even more pivotal to the city’s economy and will likely be one of the main engines of New York’s job growth in the post-pandemic economy. But even with the cementing of this industry as one of the city’s most reliable sources of new middle- and high-wage jobs, there are no registered apprenticeship programs in some of the most in-demand roles in tech, including Security Analyst, Software Developer, and Project Manager, despite the existence of programs for each of these occupations outside of NYC.


Buoyed by new leadership at the city and state level, New York City has an important opportunity to harness registered apprenticeships to provide far more New Yorkers—especially New Yorkers from lower-income backgrounds who lack a college degree—with access to careers in tech, healthcare, and other resilient industries. Even absent a new level of federal support, city and state policymakers can take several practical steps to engage more employers in growth industries, leverage the power and reach of CUNY, spur innovation, and lower existing barriers to apprenticeships. Together, these achievable recommendations chart how the City can make a major commitment to expanding apprenticeships beyond the building trades and create inclusive career pathways that will greatly increase access to the fast-growing and well-paying jobs driving the city’s economic resurgence.

Double the number of apprenticeship programs and train 5,000 apprentices in New York City by 2025. At a time of massive economic upheaval and record job loss, New York City employers are hiring for tens of thousands of jobs in technology roles, including many in occupations that have effective apprenticeship models in other cities across the nation—and even other regions across the state. Jobs in healthcare and the broader care economy have also driven hiring demand throughout the pandemic, yet there are few NYC-based apprenticeship programs in the sector. To help expand access to these fast-growing and well-paying jobs driving the city’s economic rebound, the next mayor and incoming City Council should work with Governor Hochul and the State Legislature to launch 100 new apprenticeship programs in growing fields and industries and train 5,000 New York City residents through apprenticeships by 2025—backing it up with an investment of $25 million from the city and $20 million from the state. To ensure success, Governor Hochul and the next mayor should aggressively recruit employers large and small to embrace the apprenticeship model and lean on employers who do business with the city and/or state—or benefit from economic development incentives—to make apprenticeship a key part of their talent development strategy.

Simplify and streamline New York State’s apprenticeship registration process and market key incentives to New York City employers. More than in any other sector, companies in tech say that New York State’s lengthy and bureaucratic registration process for new apprenticeship programs—along with rules limiting flexibility in making programmatic changes—present a significant obstacle to greater uptake. New York State benefits from two potentially powerful but underutilized incentive programs—the Empire State Apprenticeship Tax Credit and the Employer Training Incentive Program—but no tech companies in New York City have sponsored their own programs so far or taken advantage of these credits to spur apprenticeship creation. To ensure that more tech employers can take advantage of these important incentives and launch apprenticeship programs, Governor Hochul should direct the Department of Labor to develop a registration process that is simpler, clearer, and more flexible—or consider creating a new office to lead the expansion of apprenticeship programs across New York State, operating outside of the Department of Labor. In addition, Governor Hochul should launch a major new “Apprenticeship Now” campaign, marketing the seriously underutilized Empire State Apprenticeship Tax Credit (for registered apprenticeship) and Employee Training Incentive Program (for unregistered models) to New York City employers.

Support apprenticeship intermediaries to develop end-to-end services for employers, especially those outside the building trades and manufacturing. For the vast majority of New York City employers in industries with few, if any, apprenticeship models—including small and mid-sized companies in tech, healthcare, professional services, life sciences, and the creative economy—launching apprenticeships will require the support of a partner organization that can manage the whole process from end to end; develop and implement training; navigate the landscape of registration and corresponding incentives, and support mentorship and management during on-the-job training. But while strong examples exist in other cities and states—including Apprenti, a tech-focused apprenticeship intermediary now operating in more than a dozen cities—very few apprenticeship intermediaries have taken root in New York City to date. The city’s economic and workforce development agencies should launch new RFPs focused on supporting the creation and growth of apprenticeship intermediaries, cultivating employer relationships through effective business development, designing and launching new programs, and scaling current models with a proven record of success.

Launch an NYC Apprenticeship Accelerator at CUNY. To achieve the goal of doubling the number of apprenticeship programs in New York City, employers, education leaders, workforce organizations, and unions will need to be brought together to co-create programs, apply for funding and incentives, develop classroom and on-the-job training curricula, secure registration, recruit participants, and connect graduates to employment opportunities. CUNY’s community colleges are already the leading source of registered apprenticeships in tech and healthcare in New York City—but there are still far too few programs offered by the city’s public college system. To change this, the next mayor should work with state leaders to create an NYC Apprenticeship Accelerator headquartered at CUNY. This hub for apprenticeship creation would become the anchor of the city’s apprenticeship system, actively seeking employer partners and developing programs to ensure that many more students have access to apprenticeships while earning college credit.

Apply for growing federal funding for state apprenticeship programs. President Biden has made apprenticeships a key component of his “Build Back Better” agenda, and in just the first few months of 2021 he has committed to expanding registered apprenticeships through executive orders and $130 million specifically to develop, modernize and diversify registered apprenticeship programs. New York should aggressively pursue these new federal resources, in addition to investing its own state funds into expanded apprenticeship programs.

Create an Apprentice Support Fund to provide temporary assistance with costs that can be barriers for new apprentices. Transportation, childcare, technology costs, and other expenses can be prohibitive during the first stages of an apprenticeship. To ensure apprenticeship is accessible to New Yorkers from low-income backgrounds, the city and state should partner with philanthropic foundations to establish a source of temporary funding for intermediaries to help apprentices with those costs during the first year or two of apprenticeship, ensuring that more New Yorkers are able to succeed in an apprenticeship or pre-apprenticeship program.



1. U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration. "US Department of Labor awards more than $130M in grants to support Registered Apprenticeship programs; increase employment opportunities." June 22, 2021. https://www.dol.gov/newsroom/releases/eta/eta20210622
U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration. "U.S. Department of Labor Announces $40 Million To Address Rural Health Care Workforce ShortagesU.S. Department of Labor Announces $40 Million To Address Rural Health Care Workforce Shortages." January 14, 2021. https://www.dol.gov/newsroom/releases/eta/eta20210114-0 
U. S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration. "U.S. Department of Labor Announces $145 Million to Invest In Workforce Training for Key U.S. Economic Sectors." January 19, 2021. https://www.dol.gov/newsroom/releases/eta/eta20210119 

2. U.S. House Committee on Education and Labor. "Chairman Scott Praises Passage of the National Apprenticeship Act of 2021." February 5, 2021. https://edlabor.house.gov/media/press-releases/chairman-scott-praises-passage-of-the-national-apprenticeship-act-of-2021