years ago, New York’s last mechanics apprenticeship program graduated
its final apprentices and closed its doors. This month, they
“It’s been two years in the making,” says John McDermott, Consortium
for Worker Education’s Special Projects Director, who spearheaded the
New York Mechanics Apprenticeship Program. When the International
Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) International
Vice President Jim Conigliaro approached CWE about creating an
apprenticeship program to train new workers to replace retiring
diesel mechanics at companies like UPS, Ryder, and PENSKE, the CWE
saw an opportunity.
“CWE believes that apprenticeships are proven models for creating
economic opportunity and pathways to the middle class. We want to
show that they can be a model for the future, and that they can
expand to new industries.” McDermott said.
Starting a new apprenticeship program is not easy. CWE spent two
years working with IAM District 15 and its partnering employers to
develop the program and guide it through the New York State
Department of Labor’s vetting process. The DOL’s Apprenticeship and
Training Division provided technical assistance along the way.
CWE also reached out to its existing and massive network of community
partners to create the pipeline of potential apprentices. Because
apprentices will need to be hired by the participating employers,
they must meet certain requirements for the apprenticeship, including
a high school degree or GED and having a driver’s license.
All that work came to fruition when the program’s inaugural
apprentices started on June 17th. Among the dozen apprentices are
three women, reflecting CWE’s commitment to inclusion and diversity,
in partnership with Nontraditional Employment for Women.
Professor Clement Drummond,
Director for Automotive Education for BCC, leads apprenticeship
Like any apprenticeship, they will learn on the job.
They will also spend every other Friday at Bronx Community College,
taking classes to ground their hands-on training. As they move
through the three-year apprenticeship, they will get regular raises
and finally make a minimum of $52,000 annually at completion and have
some of the best fringe benefits in the unionized transportation
The apprenticeship program draws on the expertise and relationships
that CWE has built over its three decades: working with unions to
train workers for in-demand jobs, partnering with community-based
organizations to get jobs and training to the neighborhoods that need
them, and providing administrative and educational expertise – and
fundraising – to help new programs succeed.
The CWE and its union partners hope that the new apprenticeship
program is only the beginning. It is a model that can be expanded to
other employers and other industries to create middle-class
opportunities in a city where they are increasingly few and far