Lee Company was founded in 1944 by Leon Lee and to this day the company is still family-owned and operated. With 1,500 employees Lee Company offers expansive services that include home, facilities, and construction projects. They also focus on designing and building mechanical systems such as HVAC and plumbing systems for hospitals and apartment complexes.
When we first began talks with Lee Company, one of the biggest pain points they had within their apprenticeship programs was their data collection process for On-the-Job Training competencies, which was creating accuracy, retention, and completion issues. Their system at the time was built in-house, could only run on a single computer, and forced their apprentices to stand in a single file line and submit their hours at the end of the day. Suffice it to say, they needed to find a solution to this problem in order to sure up the stability of their apprenticeship programs. These initial conversations led to a trial period over the summer of last year, where we implemented our system in a single occupation to give them a chance to validate our software before rolling it out company-wide. It didn't take long for them to realize the value of what we were offering. Following this trial period, Lee Company decided that they loved our product and believed it could handle everything that they needed it to do, which triggered a full rollout for apprentices participating in seven different occupations programs across their company.
We recently sat down with Lee Company’s Workforce Development Manager Amber Martin, to see how her experience has been so far working with the team here at ApprentiScope and how our platform has allowed them to improve and expand their apprenticeship programs!
"ApprentiScope comes highly recommended. It is the stability behind our Apprenticeship programs & has allowed us to automate our OJT & RTI tracking across several programs, leading to increased completion rates and overall interest in our programs."
- Amber Martin, Workforce Development Manager
According to Amber a typical day for an apprentice at Lee Company starts around 6:00 AM where apprentices act as helpers and are assigned to a mechanic who will provide them with the direction they need for the task or skill required as they work towards their desired career path. These kinds of tasks can include performing wiring for electrical or digging ditches for plumbing as the task really varies by the day.
In her role as the Workforce Development Manager Amber oversees a significant amount of the inner workings of the apprenticeship program at Lee Company. She believes that one of the main reasons Lee Company originally believed that an apprenticeship program was a viable option for them was due to the hands-on experience aspect that an apprenticeship program offers. For some of the required day-to-day tasks going to school and learning how to do things by watching is ineffective. With the kind of work, Lee Company participates in the blending of both classroom instruction and on-the-job training in an apprenticeship made the most sense for them. Their overall goal here is to train workers from an unskilled standpoint to a skilled person in an efficient time frame.
Our conversation then moved towards our collaborative work with Lee Company and asked Amber some more specific questions regarding our software. Lee Company has been working with our team at ApprentiScope for over a year now and we thought now was a great time to check in and see how we're doing.
When talking to Amber about the management workflow of their apprenticeship she believes that one of the hardest pieces of these programs is tracking on-the-job training hours. This can be tedious due to some of the systems the federal government has put in place as they require you to have every hour and every minute tracked and collected. This has created problems in the past for some as their workers who have just completed a full workday don’t always remember to log these hours by competency. Previously, they would track participants' hours with a paper booklet that their supervisors would sign every day, but that system proved quite scattered and inefficient as their apprentices would lose them constantly. Our software allowed them to streamline tracking of their on-the-job training hours and centralize all their data in one digital space eliminating the problem created by the previous analog system.
Amber then outlined a specific problem our software helped to eliminate at their company as she states,
“Then the other problem that we had that your software specifically addressed that was super helpful was that a manager or superintendent often is caught up in the job at hand that they are not necessarily thinking about is how much they are giving variety to the participant. So, we would have people that would only need to register 2,000 hours towards a specific skill but would complete like 3,000 hours and they would have just wasted six months of their apprenticeship with something they should have moved on from. The software we were using before was kind of internally made and the person who created it didn’t quite understand apprenticeships, so they were putting hours towards the total and not alerting or showing that someone had completed that specific skill and that’s something that ApprentiScope does. We started using ApprentiScope because it was easy and in real-time and I wasn’t looking at pieces of paper I could look on a screen and see where everything was at that exact moment. This helped to solve another one of our problems which was that the apprentice didn’t know that they were 1,000 hours over which then provides the apprentice with accountability as well.”
When it came to Lee Company’s onboarding process some executives were quite tentative at first working with a different software after conducting things a certain way for a long time it took some convincing before they were fully sold on it. After running through a demo and a trial period they finally committed to our software and have since found it extremely useful in the implementation of their program. One thing Amber pointed out that really stuck out to her about ApprentiScope was the fact that through the software apprentices could communicate and interact accordingly from different locations. This feature was especially helpful for them when navigating the COVID-19 pandemic as well as working with participants who were out of state.
Throughout our partnership, one of the main reasons Lee Company has said it continues to work with our team at ApprentiScope is because of the user-friendly interface of our software. When asked Amber compared it to the concept of Microsoft vs Apple for her field workers the use of technology is not always something they are familiar with so having a program that was really simple and intuitive to its users helped immensely as there was no real training process required to understand how the software worked and operated. Another reason Martin loved our product so much was the automation features included which allowed her to send out automatic emails to her team that would give them direction every two weeks as well as inform her when an apprentices wages needed to be increased.
When looking at some of the ways ApprentiScope has helped to develop and expand the apprenticeship program at Lee Company Amber noticed that since the implementation of our software they are tracking hours more efficiently and more intentionally while also showing people the value in apprenticeships as now that people are starting to go through the program and see success afterward now people’s interest has started to increase.
One thing Amber was surprised to find when using our product was the feature that allowed her to track the related technical instruction hours. She mentioned how it was something she hadn’t even considered in the process leading up but found it to be very useful once implemented. The reporting function was also something Lee Company discovered they might need as Martin talked about how many managers now want to see those reports for progress tracking and the software makes that process simple and easy.
We finally asked Amber the big question, based on her experience would she recommend ApprentiScope to other companies? and if yes why?
She responded with,
“Yes! I do because it actually brings value to my apprenticeship program, and it helps both the apprentice and the program manager. There are not a lot of technologies that can do that. Why we chose to use ApprentiScope over our LMS was because there’s not a lot of technology out there that actually supports the tracking of hours towards the skill. That is the most important thing about an apprenticeship program. So, a lot of LMS’s are not designed to track your hours and experience, so it was actually really unique that there was a program out there that actually could support the number of times someone’s invested in themselves. One of the things I was told when I got this job was you need to fix the apprenticeship program and now, we feel really secure in our apprenticeship program and a lot of that has to do with ApprentiScope because we feel like that was worth the investment”.
Learn more at https://www.apprentiscope.com