NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — The American Federation of Teachers is announcing an initiative to fund career and technical education in New York and four other cities.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and his Peoria, Illinois, counterpart Mayor Jim Ardis will join AFT President Randi Weingarten to discuss the five-city partnership on Thursday, WCBS 880’s Rich Lamb reports.

“I’m very proud that New York City is being used as a model here,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said. “We used to think wood shop, we used to think, you know, kids would go in and get vocational education — there was just a very limited vein of opportunity, no no no, this is a brand new world.”

The mayor noted that it means partnerships with businesses, opening doors to well-paying jobs in fast growing fields such as tech, life sciences and even working on electric utility lines.

The initiative is modeled after New York City’s career and technical education programs. The aim is to provide students with technical proficiency for skilled trades, applied sciences and technology.

The program will be funded through the AFT’s Innovation Fund. It will provide grants to union affiliates in Peoria, Pittsburgh, San Francisco and Miami-Dade County, Florida.

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