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College Creates Apprenticeship Title for Craft Beer Brewers, Expands Workforce Development Brewing Courses

Craft Brewing - Workforce Development


SUNY Schenectady’s Workforce Development & Community Education Division has created a new Brewer/Distiller Apprenticeship title aimed at bringing new employees to the brewing industry. Apprenticeships provide a no-cost/low-cost way for those in the industry to expand their skills through hands-on training at their place of work and related instruction at the College. Under SUNY Apprenticeship funds, apprentices have $5,000 to support tuition and other related expenses (fees, books, equipment). 

The new apprenticeship title, recently approved by the New York State Department of Labor (NYSDOL), was developed in partnership with the NYSDOL, industry experts, and instructors in the College’s non-credit brewing courses. Breweries across the state can register directly with the Department of Labor to become a sponsor for an apprentice or can register with the Center for Economic Growth (CEG) who can act as a group sponsor and assist with the development and implementation of the apprenticeship title. 

“This is a means to provide expanded opportunities to individuals across the state to become involved in a growing and dynamic industry, Apprenticeship is an excellent way to support companies who wish to invest in and retain their employees and provides support for apprentices to receive training, increase their income and open opportunities for career advancement—a win-win for both parties.”

She expressed her thanks to Christian Ryan, Master Distiller and SUNY Schenectady Adjunct Faculty Member, John Curtin and Rick Sicari, Co-owners of Albany Distilling Co., Rich Michaels, Master Brewer with Frog Alley Brewing Co. in Schenectady and Mariquita Reese, former student and Member of the New York State Brewers Association Inclusion Committee, who contributed to crafting the College’s new apprenticeship title.

Employers who would like more information about the apprenticeship title or how to become a registered sponsor are encouraged to contact Sarah Wilson-Sparrow at or Christine McLear, Workforce Development Manager at the Center for Economic Growth, at 

“At SUNY Schenectady, we are taking career training a step further through our new apprenticeship title and outreach efforts to individuals of color who are underrepresented in the brewing field. As breweries continue to expand in New York state, we will develop trainings and initiatives to support this expansion, especially as the state continues to rebuild from the pandemic.”

NEW THIS FAll: (Workforce Development & Community Education) Introduction to Brewing and Distilling courses will take place on Monday and Wednesday evenings (6:30 to 9 p.m.) from Sept. 7 to Dec. 15 at Frog Alley Brewing Co. in downtown Schenectady. The College has held non-credit brewing courses for the past six years, but this is the first year that courses will take place at Frog Alley.

Students will have the opportunity to learn firsthand all that goes into a successful brewing operation from brewing science and beer maturation/storage to malting, mashing, brewing, fermentation, finishing and distillation basics. The goal of this course is to provide a pool of trained, entry-level brewers/distillers in the growing craft beverage industry.  

SUNY Schenectady is also working with FlagshipUltra’s Hospitality arm – Velvet Rope Group (VRG) and a new nonprofit - Nascent - a Black Wealth Workforce Development Initiative. The College and the Nascent Initiative have a shared interest in improving opportunity and access to people of color in historically underrepresented industry sectors like brewing and distilling.

Kaciem Swain, Capital Region Entrepreneur, VRG & Nascent have collaborated with SUNY Schenectady and Albany Distilling Co. to spread the word about SUNY Schenectady’s craft brewing & distilling training opportunities in the Capital District and that funding support may be available. The result of this collaboration is a new cohort of Black students starting class at Frog Alley Brewing on September 7 with the intention of using what they learn to start a Black-owned brewery and distillery in the region.