Program helps prepare local workforce for jobs being created by I-81 and other infrastructure investments

*This press release was prepared by CenterState CEO and Syracuse Build

Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh, Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon, CenterState CEO and other community partners celebrated the graduation of the first class of Syracuse Build’s Pathways to Apprenticeship program. This comprehensive apprenticeship readiness training program focuses on preparing women, people of color and veterans to help them gain access to the Building Trades’ registered apprenticeship programs. Eighteen people participated in the paid 11-week program created to prepare a local workforce for the significant number of construction jobs being created by federal, state and local infrastructure investments including I-81.

“Congratulations the graduates. Their hard work, dedication, and readiness for access into the construction trades speaks to the robust and inclusive workforce pipeline of Syracuse Build,” said Chris Montgomery, Executive Director of Syracuse Build. “Pathways to Apprenticeship’s success is one of many ways Syracuse Build is working to design and invest in local training opportunities that will place diverse, local, and veteran workers onto career pathways with construction firms, union apprenticeships, and within anchor partner institutions. We are off to a great start!”

“We are incredibly proud of the first cohort of individuals who will have successfully completed the program at the end of this month,” said Ebony Farrow, Pathways to Apprenticeship program manager at CenterState CEO. “This first cohort proved that intentional recruitment and programming can position people for success who otherwise wouldn’t have access to these opportunities. Now, as we look to build our second cohort, we want to focus our attraction efforts on women of color to truly ensure diversity in the construction trades. We believe that if we are going to be purposeful about moving the needle of poverty, based on this first Pathways to Apprenticeship cohort’s success, we need to engage more women of color, veterans and marginalized people and encourage them to sign up.”

All 18 graduates are now in the process of applying to apprenticeship programs or jobs in the construction field.  Throughout the Pathways to Apprenticeship program participants have gained physical, and technical skills needed to be competitive and successfully apply to a registered union apprenticeship. Entering a union-sponsored registered apprenticeship can be highly competitive; throughout the program, participants received exclusive networking opportunities with local trade unions and coaching and preparation for the registered apprenticeship application process.

“I congratulate the first cohort of Syracuse Build Pathways to Apprenticeship graduates. They demonstrate the strong interest and readiness of Syracuse residents looking to break into the construction trades. We know there are hundreds of other residents who are interested so we are making more cohorts available. Thank you to our Syracuse Build partners and trainers—this is just the beginning,” said Mayor Ben Walsh

Syracuse Build is a community initiative launched by Mayor Walsh to support local construction activity by connecting job seekers from Syracuse’s historically marginalized communities with career pathways in construction related fields. Syracuse Build’s goal is to align local government, unions, anchor institutions, and construction firms in a coordinated network of community, training and workforce partners. Work Train at CenterState CEO serves as an intermediary, bringing resources and partners to develop both the Syracuse Build initiative and the Pathways to Apprenticeship program.

“I would like to thank everyone that has been a part of this very important discussion on being able to get local city residents trained and ready for the I-81 project and for future projects as well. We know the interest is there and we know the jobs will be there. We are committed to getting our community to work,” said Syracuse Common Council President Helen Hudson.

County Executive McMahon said, “Congratulations to the first class of the Syracuse Build’s Pathways and Apprenticeship program. Investing in our people and preparing them with the skillsets they need to be successful is not only the right thing to do, it helps fill a critical shortage in our labor force.” McMahon continued, “I want to thank all of our partners who helped make this program successful and wish the graduates much success in their future endeavors.” 

The Pathway to Apprenticeship program is a collaboration of the Central and Northern New York Building Trades Council (CNNYBTC), and Syracuse Build and teaches the nationally recognized North America’s Building Trades Unions (NABTU) Multi-Craft Core Curriculum.

“Partners recently announced applications were being accepted for a second round of the program due to the overwhelming success and response. By expanding the program, partners hope to engage more individuals and prepare them for the growing number of construction job opportunities,” said Greg Lancette, President of CNNYBTC.

Funding for the Pathways program comes from a number of community partners recognizing the need to prepare the local workforce, including the City of Syracuse, Greater Syracuse HOPE, Empire State Poverty Reduction Initiative, North America’s Building Trade Unions, Central New York Community Foundation, United Way of Central New York, and the Alliance for Economic Inclusion.

“We are incredibly excited to see this first cohort move on to the next phase of their job training and skills development,” said Dominic Robinson, vice president of Economic Inclusion at CenterState CEO. “We know they will be well prepared for careers across the construction industry. What’s more these are stable careers that offer family sustaining wages. The impact of this opportunity goes beyond these graduates to their families.” 

The second class of the Pathways to Apprenticeship program begins on, Oct. 4 and goes through Dec. 16 operating four days a week. Training is tuition-free and accepted participants will be paid for their time in the program. Applications are being accepted online through August 30, 2021 at

Acceptance into the Pathways program is competitive. To meet the minimum requirements, applicants must:

●          Be 18 years or older;

●          Live in the City of Syracuse;

●          Desire a career in construction;

●          Be authorized to work in the United States;

●          Have a high school diploma or equivalent;

●          Read, write, and to speak in English for training and safety purposes; and

●          Be physically capable to do construction work.

About Syracuse Build

Syracuse Build is a mayoral initiative designed to support Syracuse’s construction industry by connecting capable job seekers from Syracuse’s historically marginalized communities with career pathways in construction related fields.  The primary purpose of the initiative is to increase the number of low income Syracuse residents — particularly people of color, women and veterans — working on public construction projects and successfully entering/advancing in union apprenticeship.  Syracuse Build aligns local government, anchor institutions, union apprenticeship programs and construction firms into a coordinated network of community, training and workforce partners. Syracuse Build is led by a steering committee and managed and staffed by CNY Works. CenterState CEO/Work Train serves as the intermediary to align these partners, provide some of the funding, and develop a strong pipeline of workers for these opportunities.

About Central & Northern New York Building Trades (CNNYBT)

CNNYBTC represents approximately 5,000 construction workers and 17 member unions that are highly skilled in a wide array of crafts. These men and women are an intricate part of New York’s workforce, our region’s economy, and future economic prosperity. Since 1958, the CNNYBTC has been in existence in NY to bring the needs of unions from all building-related trades together in an effort to protect the welfare of workers and learn from one another. Together, we’ve been able to have a voice in the State Legislature, fighting for local jobs, fair wages, funding for major infrastructure projects and more. We continue to fight for our members and their families every day, which is evident in our apprenticeship programs. We have 150,000 square feet of training facilities. Annually, we spend over $7.5 million on training. Over the last ten years, we have graduated over 1,735 students. We continue working every day to establish apprenticeship training at the state level. These programs allow us to continue great traditions of quality work into today’s industry, and improve construction across New York State.

About CenterState CEO

CenterState CEO is an independent and forward-thinking economic development strategist, business leadership organization and chamber of commerce; dedicated to the success of its members and the prosperity of the region. We serve as an advocate and resource for smart business, catalyze and facilitate regional growth, and promote community prosperity through results-driven partnerships, planning and problem-solving.

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