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Boston receives $11 million from feds for apprenticeships

The federal Department of Labor is giving $11 million in grants to the city of Boston, the state labor department, and a local non-profit to steer more people toward apprenticeships.

The awards are part of $175 million in grants announced by the Labor Department that will fund 34,000 apprenticeships across the country, officials said. President Obama discusses the program at Macomb Community College in Michigan Wednesday.

US Labor Secretary Thomas Perez said the grants amounted to the largest investment the White House has ever made in apprenticeships. He said the funding would create paid training opportunities in non-traditional fields like cybersecurity, health care, and insurance, in addition to fields like building trades. In Massachusetts, Bay State Health of Springfiled and gun maker Smith & Wesson Holding Corp., also of Springfield, would take on apprentices, Perez said.


“Apprenticeships are the other college, without the debt,” Perez said. “When you go through these programs, you make more money and have more opportunities.”

In Boston, the city will use the funds to double the number of students and low-income workers it enrolls in building trades and hospitality apprenticeships, according to Trinh Nguyen, the director of the Mayor’s Office of Workforce Development. The city is targeting women and minorities for the job training programs, which pay apprentices $15 to $21 an hour while they develop their skills.

“They don’t have to pay for anything. They just have to be committed to changing their lives,” Nguyen said.

Over the next five years, the city plans to use the funds to enroll around 80 people a year in “pre-apprenticeship” programs that provide stipends and guarantee them placement in a higher-wage apprenticeship, compared to the 40 or 50 it trains in an average year, Nguyen said.

The state’s Executive Office of Workforce and Labor Development will also receive $3 million to place about 300 workers with apprenticeships statewide in fields such as health care and advanced manufacturing, the state agency said. There are currently about 7,500 registered apprentices in Massachusetts, according to the office.


Jobs For the Future, a national nonprofit based in Boston, will receive $5 million, but its grant will be used to add apprenticeships in the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic states, the Labor Department said. Maria Flynn, a senior vice president at the nonprofit, said the group would use the funds to create 1,450 industrial manufacturing technician apprenticeships as part of a collaboration with groups including the AFL-CIO union. Such an apprenticeship could also be appropriate for some Massachusetts companies, she said.

The Teamsters, a truckers’ union, and the International Transportation Learning Center, which is based in Maryland, will receive $9.7 million to fund apprenticeships in a number of states including Massachusetts, according to the Labor Department.

Jack Newsham can be reached at jack.newsham@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @TheNewsHam.