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New York State Construction Companies: The Case for Apprenticeship Programs in Government Bidding

In the bustling world of construction in New York State, landing government bids can be a game-changer for companies, providing steady work and reliable income. However, as the industry evolves and government requirements become more stringent, construction firms find themselves facing new challenges. One such challenge is the necessity for apprenticeship programs to qualify for these lucrative contracts.

The Importance of Apprenticeship Programs

Apprenticeship programs play a crucial role in the construction industry by providing hands-on training and education to aspiring tradespeople. These programs offer a structured pathway for individuals to learn essential skills while earning a wage, ultimately preparing them for long-term careers in the field.

In New York State, government contracts often require construction companies to demonstrate their commitment to workforce development through apprenticeship programs. This requirement is not just a bureaucratic hurdle but reflects a broader recognition of the importance of investing in skilled labor to ensure the quality and safety of public projects.

Open Shop Dilemma

For open shop construction companies—those that operate without union affiliation—meeting the apprenticeship requirement can be particularly challenging. Unlike their unionized counterparts, open shop firms may lack access to established apprenticeship infrastructure and support networks.

In order to compete for government bids, open shop contractors must establish their own apprenticeship programs or seek partnerships with organizations that can provide the necessary resources and credentials. Without such programs in place, these companies risk being excluded from valuable opportunities.

Enter the Merit Apprenticeship Alliance

One organization that is helping open shop construction companies meet the apprenticeship requirement is the Merit Apprenticeship Alliance (MAA). This industry-driven alliance partners with contractors to develop and implement apprenticeship programs that comply with government standards and regulations.

One of the key advantages of partnering with MAA is access to the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) credential curriculum. NCCER is widely recognized as a standard for construction training and certification, ensuring that apprentices receive quality education that aligns with industry best practices.

Moreover, MAA offers on-the-job training programs that complement classroom instruction, providing apprentices with a comprehensive learning experience. By combining theoretical knowledge with practical skills development, MAA equips apprentices with the tools they need to succeed in the construction industry.

Meeting Today's Bid Specs

In today's competitive bidding environment, construction companies must meet a myriad of specifications and requirements to secure government contracts. From technical qualifications to compliance with labor standards, navigating the bidding process can be daunting.

By partnering with organizations like MAA, open shop contractors can streamline their qualification process and enhance their competitiveness. By demonstrating a commitment to workforce development through apprenticeship programs, these companies not only meet the requirements of today's bid specifications but also invest in the future of their workforce.

In New York State's construction industry, apprenticeship programs are no longer optional but essential for companies seeking government contracts. For open shop contractors, establishing apprenticeship programs can be challenging, but partnerships with organizations like the Merit Apprenticeship Alliance offer a viable solution.

By providing access to accredited curriculum, on-the-job training, and industry expertise, MAA empowers open shop contractors to meet the apprenticeship requirement and compete effectively in the government bidding process. In doing so, these companies not only fulfill regulatory obligations but also invest in the skill development and future success of their workforce.

Unveiling the Untapped Gold Mine: The Advantages of Trades over College



In the landscape of career choices, the traditional narrative often centers around the pursuit of a college degree as the key to success. However, a quiet revolution is underway, shining a spotlight on the advantages of working in the trades. Choosing a trade offers a unique pathway—one that involves learning on the job, earning while learning, and potentially making more money upon completing an apprenticeship program than one might with a college degree.

1. Learning on the Job: Real-World Experience Matters

In the world of trades, education is hands-on and immediate. Apprenticeships provide an opportunity to learn in the field, acquiring practical skills that are immediately applicable to the job. This real-world experience is invaluable, offering a different kind of education—one that is not confined to textbooks but is shaped by the challenges and intricacies of the actual work environment.

2. Earning While Learning: Breaking Free from Student Debt

One of the glaring advantages of pursuing a trade is the ability to earn while learning. Unlike the traditional college path, where students often accumulate significant debt before even entering the workforce, trade apprenticeships offer a chance to earn a wage from day one. This not only makes education more accessible but also enables individuals to establish financial independence early in their careers.

3. Making More Money Post-Apprenticeship: A Financial Leap

Upon completing an apprenticeship program, individuals in the trades often find themselves in a position to earn a substantial income. Trades such as welding, plumbing, electrical work, and carpentry are in high demand, and skilled professionals are compensated accordingly. The combination of real-world experience and specialized skills positions trade workers as indispensable assets in various industries, leading to higher earning potential.

4. Filling the Skills Gap: Meeting the Demand

As technology continues to advance, the demand for skilled tradespeople is on the rise. There is a notable skills gap in various trades, and those who choose this path find themselves in a favorable position. As a skilled tradesperson, you become part of a select group, meeting the growing demand for expertise that cannot be easily automated.

5. Career Stability and Versatility: Adapting to Change

Trades offer not only financial rewards but also stability and versatility. In times of economic uncertainty, certain trades remain resilient, as their services are consistently required. Additionally, the skills acquired in a trade are often transferable, allowing individuals to adapt to changing industries or explore different avenues within their chosen field.

Forging a Path to Success

The advantages of working in the trades paint a compelling picture for those seeking an alternative to the traditional college route. Learning on the job, earning while learning, and the potential for lucrative post-apprenticeship earnings showcase the unique benefits of pursuing a trade. As society continues to evolve, embracing the diversity of career paths available, the trades emerge not just as a practical choice but as a pathway to success that, for many, is a better fit than the conventional college experience. The hidden gold mine of the trades beckons those ready to forge their own path to a fulfilling and prosperous career.

Air Index Updates

According to OSHA:
For wildfire smoke pollutant, use the Air Quality Index isa measurement of fine particles in the air.  An AQI over 150 is considered unhealthy for the general population.  An AQI over 101 can be unhealthy for sensitive workers with asthma and other conditions.

The employer must provide a sufficient number of respirators for employee use on a voluntary basis when the current AQI for PM2.5 is equal to or greater than 151 but does not exceed 500. The employer must require employees to use respirators when the current AQI for PM2.5 is greater than 500.

Current AQI ratings vary around New York State. You can access AQI for New York here: State AQI |
Most regions are well above 150 as of right now, therefore employer must provide respirators for field workers upon request.

Merit Alliance designated as Apprenticeship Ambassador

Syracuse, NY – Merit Apprenticeship Alliance is proud to share that it was selected by the U.S. Department of Labor as one of the first of 207 officials and organizations from across the country as an Apprenticeship Ambassador.

Ambassadors share their experiences and help champion apprenticeship opportunities. There are only six ambassadors in New York State and Merit Alliance is the first to represent the construction trades.

“We are so proud to be among the first of Apprenticeship Ambassadors. Our mission is to promote sustainable careers through registered apprenticeship training. At its core, we are helping unemployed and underemployed individuals from across our diverse communities to focus on developing a career that they can rely upon to provide for themselves and their families.” says Penny Hazer, President of Merit Apprenticeship Alliance.

As an Apprenticeship Ambassador Merit Alliance has joined the rest of the first cohort in supporting the DOL’s goals of modernizing, diversifying, and expanding Registered Apprenticeship to support the success of American workers, employers, and communities across the country.

“Apprenticeship is key to developing a skilled workforce. It bridges the gap and gives qualified candidates the opportunity to earn while they learn. We look forward to working with the U.S. Department of Labor and our fellow Ambassadors to continue promoting apprenticeship as part of this important initiative.” – Stacy Miller, Director of Training and Curriculum of the Merit Alliance Construction Training Institute.

The Merit Apprenticeship Alliance and the rest of the inaugural group have pledged to host a combined 3,367 outreach and recruitment activities, 892 training sessions, 717 promotional meetings, and develop 460 new registered apprenticeship programs.