AAI of WNY: Message from our Project Director

AAI of WNY: Message from our Project Director Image

Dear Colleague:

The American Apprenticeship Initiative of WNY project is coming to an end on September 30, 2021.  Our entire AAI team wants to say Thank You for partnering with us and supporting the growth of Registered Apprenticeship in our region!  

AAI of WNY was funded by a $2.9 million grant from the US Department of Labor Education and Training Administration which was awarded to the United Way of Buffalo and Erie County in 2015.  The Workforce Development Institute generously provided additional funds to support this project.  

In the six years since receiving the grant, AAI of WNY has worked with 56 manufacturing companies where 336 apprentices received training for over 30 different skilled trades.  These companies are located in 8 counties of Western New York and range in size from a family-owned tool and die shop with one apprentice to an international corporation with 40 apprentices (see full list of employer partners, below).  Twenty-eight percent of the apprentices in the AAI of WNY program are from underrepresented populations.     

AAI of WNY funds also supported pre-apprenticeship training.  Our pre-apprenticeship partner, Genesee Community College, launched an advanced manufacturing summer boot camp in July 2021. Of the five students in this pilot project, three went directly into an apprenticeship position, one has been offered an apprentice-track position, and one is continuing his training by enrolling in the Mechatronics Certificate Program at Monroe Community College.  All five students received Amatrol training which counts as 96 hours of related instruction for a NYS Registered Apprenticeship and more than 100 hours of on-the-job training upon the completion of the seven-week program. As a result of this pre-apprenticeship project, three manufacturing companies started new registered apprenticeship programs.  In Spring, 2018, AAI of WNY also partnered with Erie 1 BOCES and the Workforce Development Consortium of Erie County to provide funds for two career readiness programs that prepared 20 students for MSSC Certified Production Technician certification, with over 90% of these students from underrepresented populations.  

Educating youth about the rewards of apprenticeship in a manufacturing career was another way we sought to enhance the eco-system in Western New York.  Through the AAI of WNY, over 300 youth in the Buffalo region had the experience of a manufacturing plant tour, an industry speaker, an apprentice speaker, a mentor session with a skilled trades retiree, an apprenticeship information table, or a webinar on opportunities in manufacturing and apprenticeship.  Our youth education partners included Buffalo Public Schools, the Charter School for Applied Technologies, Alden School District, and the Buffalo Urban League.  The Skilled Trades Retiree Mentor Project was made possible in five Buffalo Public Schools Career and Technical Education classrooms by a grant from the General Motors Community Impact Fund.  

The success of the AAI of WNY program has been within the larger context of tremendous growth in Registered Apprenticeship in our state and around the US.  Our friends at the Rochester Technology and Manufacturing Association (RTMA) and Monroe Community College (MCC) have led the way in our region.  RTMA became a registered apprenticeship Group Sponsor in 2018 and now has 26 Signatory companies with 130 apprentices in the skilled trades.  Monroe Community College (MCC) was identified as one of 6 community colleges with high quality non-degree programs chosen to participate in the New Models for Career Preparation Project by New America.  And check out this cool new app from our friend Dale Pearce, formerly the Program Director, Curriculum Development & Apprenticeships at MCC  https://apprentrac.com.

MCC and RTMA partnered to create the Finger Lakes Youth Apprenticeship Program, launched in 2018 to recruit and engage high school juniors and seniors into Youth Apprenticeship pathways in Advanced Manufacturing. Since then, 9 Virtual Matching Day events were held and 64 students have completed either a paid co-op or a job shadow placement, earning college credit in the process.

Since January 2015, the NYS Department of Labor has added 59 new occupations to their approved trades in the Registered Apprenticeship Program.  AAI of WNY is proud to have supported the addition of one of these occupations, the Industrial Manufacturing Technician (IMT).  In October 2017, we hosted a forum on the IMT that drew 116 people representing 27 employers, 6 unions and featuring 11 expert national speakers.  Six months later, the IMT trade was approved by the NYS DOL Apprenticeship Council, allowing our state to be competitive with the other states already offering the IMT to their workforce.    

Nationally, there has been tremendous growth in apprenticeship the past 6 years.  The AAI grant was awarded to 44 organizations in the United States in 2015. As of June 2020, these AAI grantees had registered 24,675 new apprentices, 58% of whom are from underrepresented populations.  These apprentices were trained in high demand trades in advanced manufacturing, health care, information technology, construction, and transportation.  The US Department of Labor followed the initial funding for AAI with grants totaling hundreds of millions of dollars for workforce development projects that included apprenticeship.  To see a list of awards since 2015, click on this link:  https://www.apprenticeship.gov/investments-tax-credits-and-tuition-support/active-grants-and-contracts .

Thanks to the US DOL/ETA AAI grant, United Way of Buffalo and Erie County was able to distribute $693,112.47 to employers to offset the cost of related technical instruction for their apprentices.  And thanks to a grant from the Workforce Development Institute, we were able to provide employers with $193,362.40 for apprentice tools and supplies.  Overall, a total of $886,474.87 came into our region to support registered apprenticeship and economic development.  We want to thank the US DOL/ETA and the Workforce Development Institute for their generous financial support, and the National Governors Association for their technical assistance throughout the six years of the AAI project.  

Apprenticeship continues to grow in our region.  Funding for registered apprenticeship programs is offered to employers until 2023 through SUNY’s SAP and NYCAN grants.  Here in Buffalo, the Youth Apprenticeship of Western New York Partnership received a grant from the Partnership to Advance Youth Apprenticeship (PAYA).  Their program is underway now and will enroll the first student cohort in June 2022. 

Wishing you all the best in your continued work to support economic development in our region through job growth and training opportunities that include Registered Apprenticeship.  


Holly Hutchinson

Project Director, AAI of WNY


American Apprenticeship Initiative of WNY

September 2021


Active AAI Companies:                                    

Chautauqua County: Cummins, Ring Precision Components, SKF Aeroengine, Trinity Electric

Erie County:  Ford, Palma Tools, RJS Machine Works, S&H Machine Co., Unifrax, Xylem

Genesee County:  RTMA Signatories - Aludyne, Lapp Industries, US Gypsum

Livingston County:  RTMA Signatory - Barilla America, Inc

Monroe County: Calvary Robotics, Century Mold, Empire Precision Plastics, Gleason Works, JML Optical, Lidestri, Optimation, ORAFOL Precision Technology Solutions, PEKO, Rochester Technology and Manufacturing Association, Romold, Sydor Optics, Thermo Fisher, Trident Precision 

Niagara County: VanDeMark, Tasner 

Ontario County: CAR Engineering and Manufacturing, Progressive Machine and Design

Wayne County: Optimax 

Active RTMA Signatories:

ACAD, Acro Industries, Advanced Atomization, Aludyne, Ambrell, Arnprior, Barilla America, Inc, Commodore Technologies, CooperVision, Gem Manufacturing, Genesee Global, HP Hood, Jrlon, Kodak, Lapp Industries, Love Beets, LSI Solutions, Maris, Nordon, Optipro, Precision Grinding, Roechling, Steiner, Terphane, US Gypsum, Zip Products. 

Active Counties:

Chautauqua, Erie, Genesee, Livingston, Monroe, Niagara, Ontario, Wayne

Active NYS DOL Occupations:                                            

Calibration Technician (Electrical-Electronic)                   

Drafter (Structural)                                                  


Electro-Mechanical Technician                                                                                                                      

Electronics Technician (Manufacturing Only)

Industrial Equipment Wirer and Assembler   

Industrial Machinery Mechanic 

Industrial Manufacturing Technician                               

Machine Builder                                               

Machinist (CNC)                                                          

Maintenance Mechanic (Automatic Equipment)


Mold Maker        

Mold Maker, Die-Casting and Plastic Molding


Plant Maintenance-Electrician 

Plant Maintenance-Mechanic (4 Year) 

Plant Maintenance-Millwright 

Precision Optics Manufacturing Technician 

Quality Assurance Auditor

Sheet Metal Worker

Tool and Die Maker                                                                                                     


Welder (Industrial)  

Active US DOL Occupation (FORD)



Machinists (Machine Repair)

PipeFitters and Steamfitters (Pipefitter)

Specialists (Industrial and Truck Mechanic)

Tool and Die Makers

Welders, Cutters, and Welder Fitters (Welder)