Top Employers Look to City High Schools to Fill Skill Gaps

From Crain’s New York Business, June 14, 2019


As the labor market tightens, employers are looking beyond college students in their hunt for talented employees. An apprenticeship program launching this fall will connect at least 91 city public high school students with paid apprenticeships at companies including Bank of America, Bloomberg, JPMorgan Chase and Amazon.

Called CareerWise New York, the effort is led by a group of 17 employers and managed by the Bronx nonprofit Here to Here. Students will enter the apprenticeships as juniors and spend three years, including one working full time, at the companies. CareerWise hopes to address difficulties city employers report in filling certain positions while also setting high schoolers up for a sustainable career.

Bank of America will take on 10 apprentices through the first cohort of CareerWise. As explained by Chris Payton, the bank’s global talent acquisition executive, employers are increasingly looking for chances to reach potential hires earlier in their training.

“Instead of just looking at college juniors, we have started looking at freshmen and sophomores,” Payton said. “And now, as the labor market continues to tightenwhich we don’t expect to end for years to comewe’re starting to think about other pipelines for talent. One that appeals to us for a number of reasons is talent in high school, so we are looking for that access.”

Even if not all of Bank of America’s apprentices go into a career with the bank, Payton said, the apprenticeship still will have gotten BoA’s name out to the students and built a relationship for a potential future hire. Here to Here CEO Abby Jo Sigal calls CareerWise an “options multiplier” for students. After three years, she said, they each will be in a good position to either enter the workforcewith a likely starting salary of at least $40,000or apply to a college program. Sigal expects many apprentices to go on to pursue a college education while working.

“We’re using these apprenticeships to really align employers and educators around the goal of making sure that, by the time a young person is 25, they have found or on the path to a familysustaining career,” Sigal said. “That’s something we are not currently doing well, particularly for students of color or students growing up in neighborhoods such as the South Bronx or East New York.”

Here to Here’s goal is to expand the apprentice system so that it eventually reaches a “meaningful amount” of city high school students, as described by Sigal.

By the end of the apprenticeship, the students will have been paid at least $30,000, according to CareerWise. The apprenticeship also will include the option to pursue up to 30 college credits, tuitionfree.

CareerWise New York apprentices hail from 21 city public schools so far. They will start their work at the beginning of the 20192020 school year.

CareerWise is modeled after apprenticeships in Switzerland, where about 70% of students go into jobtraining programs by age 15. The first version of CareerWise launched in 2017 in Colorado; that state hopes to enroll 1 in 10 students into apprenticeships by 2027.