Opinion

How to Start a Registered Apprenticeship at Your Company

A Registered Apprenticeship is a proven model of apprenticeship that has been validated by the U.S. Department of Labor or a State Apprenticeship Agency.

Figma graphic of workplace.
Sovann Boyd

Sovann Boyd

Digital Marketing Specialist @ ApprentiScope

Determine the Goals of Your Apprenticeship

An apprenticeship program can extremely benefit one's company, but in order to do so, you must first be able to come up with a strategy to best execute your program successfully. The most important part of this process is first deciding why you want to start an apprenticeship program whether it's to build a bigger talent pool for your company or to address certain skill gaps either way your reason should further your company’s overall goals. 

When starting the process of launching an apprenticeship at your company one beneficial tactic in the planning process is to hold meetings within your company or industry sector to establish how apprenticeships fit into your company culture, recruitment strategies, and short, medium, and long-term goals and work plans. For an apprenticeship program to be successful, it must bring value to the company or organization and there must be support throughout the organization. 

Some important questions to ask yourself when building your apprenticeship include, 

  • Where do you see your business growing, and how could an apprenticeship program advance your company goals?
  • Does your company have the funds to pay for an apprenticeship program?
  • Who will oversee the program and run its various components?
  • How long will your program run?
  • How many apprentices will you have each year?
  • Will you be recruiting apprentices from outside your business or are there current employees within your business who would benefit from the program?
  • What criteria will be used for the application process?
  • What criteria will you have for the successful completion of the apprenticeship?

 

Two workers working together

Image provided by Getty Images

 

Establishing Apprenticeship Standards

A Registered Apprenticeship as defined by the U.S. Department of Labor “is a proven model of apprenticeship that has been validated by the U.S. Department of Labor or a State Apprenticeship Agency”. These kinds of programs enable and motivate more employers to participate and provide them access to larger talent pools that have been trained for entry-level to management positions helping to meet industry demands and reducing unemployment rates across the country.  

In accordance with the Department of Labor, there are 5 components of registered apprenticeships that every company must implement in their program these components include, 

  • Paid Job 
  • On-the-Job Learning 
  • Classroom Learning 
  • Mentorship
  • Credentials

The paid job aspect assures that apprentices are paid employees who produce high-quality work while they learn skills that enhance your organization's needs. Through this process employers also commit to a wage progression as their apprentices learn and gain new skills and experience. For on-the-job learning and classroom learning apprentices will work through a combination of both in-person hands-on training as well as have related technical training usually conducted in a classroom setting. The U.S. Department of Labor has established training plans for all approved occupations which are available for your program. You may select an existing training plan, tailor one to your specific needs, or develop your own outline.

The next component is mentorship where a company will form an internal mentorship program to provide one-on-one support to apprentices. Designated mentors should be skilled professionals in the industry whose purpose is to assist apprentices in furthering their learning and skills. Finally, the final component of all registered apprenticeship programs is credentials. Credentials guarantee that an apprentice will receive a nationally-recognized credential upon their graduation from your program. Gaining credentials will help your participants continue to further their careers even past their apprenticeship and maybe even your company. 

 

Implementation of Your Apprenticeship Program

When implementing an apprenticeship program at your company you first will want to work with your local apprenticeship agency to help you build out your program as well as helping you make sure you have completed all the proper documentation. In this implementation process, you will have to create a structured on-the-job training checklist that the apprenticeship will use when working through the program. Apprentices will also have to be assigned a mentor who then must have established related technical instruction planned to complement the participant's on-the-job training efforts. Related instruction is usually provided by a partnered community college, technical school, or your company itself. 

 

Map of registered apprenticeship process

Image provided by Apprenticeship.gov

 

Depending on the state your registered apprenticeship is located in you will have to register your program with either the U.S. Department of Labor’s Apprenticeship or a Department of Labor recognized State Apprenticeship Agency. These agencies are dedicated to helping provide any technical assistance a potential apprenticeship program may need including helping to structure the program, prepare the on-the-job training outline, and identify educational partners to help coordinate the program.

As apprenticeships remain a proven model for workforce training there is also an increasing amount of State and Federal support available to apprentices and program sponsors. The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) and The Workforce Investment and Opportunity Act (WIOA) provide a variety of support for apprenticeship programs, including wage reimbursements to employers or wrap-around services for apprentices. Employers can apply for these grants through their state's Department of Labor as more and more funding initiatives come through. 

For situations where the desired application is for an apprenticeship program that the Department of Labor has previously approved through the Standards of Apprenticeship, it can receive expedited approval.  Though if the occupation for the apprenticeship has not been previously approved by the Department of Labor the application must include documentation on the need for an apprenticeship program and the curriculum for the proposed program. 

 

Benefits of Running a Registered Apprenticeship

As the country continues to navigate the current challenges of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic one of the most pressing matters in our workforce is the increasing worker demand due to the skilled worker shortage many companies are currently facing. Businesses from a plethora of different industries have reported workforce challenges citing the inability to locate and recruit skilled workers as the main problem in maintaining a productive and profitable workplace. 

Registered Apprenticeships as described above have been a proven path to attracting and developing local talent for a wide variety of different industries and occupations. When using an apprenticeship to draw in potential employees businesses are able to develop a skilled workforce from within. It has been proven that when apprentices are recruited based on their own work ethic and aptitude, they are more inclined to give their best effort and feel a sense of accomplishment and purpose when contributing to a team. 

 

Graphic image of Registered Apprenticeship benefits.

Image provided by United Way of Buffalo and Erie County

Apprenticeships have also been heralded as a great way to foster employee loyalty as Registered Apprenticeships offer clear pathways for development and growth through mentorship as they gradually increase in skill. Loyal employees continue to stay long-term with their companies and are constantly striving to improve at all times. Offering a Registered Apprenticeship is a smart step for any company that wants to establish long-term employee loyalty. 

Many businesses have also reported higher retention amongst their apprentices. These workers feel more purpose in their role and welcome the enthusiasm of the new apprentices.  These apprentices can then become mentors themselves as they develop strong leadership skills throughout the business. Through this cycle, employees will be much more likely to stay when they enjoy their work environment and have the chance to impact the lives of others around them.   

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