Apprenticeships put theory and knowledge into practice by pairing On-the-Job Training (OJT) with Related Technical Instruction (RTI). In this way, apprentices learn by doing, rather than gaining knowledge in a classroom before finding employment later.
Successful Apprenticeship Programs have thorough RTI and OJT outlines to ensure apprentices develop the practical knowledge and skills they need to succeed.
When program administrators understand the differences between RTI and OJT, what’s required for each, and how each area of focus can best complement the other, they can effectively track Apprenticeship success in a way that sets the stage for U.S. DOL compliance. Administering and tracking OJT ensures that Apprenticeship Programs develop a skilled workforce that will boost productivity and profitability.
What is On-the-Job Training for Apprentices?
Apprenticeships take an earn-while-you-learn approach to preparing workers for jobs while also meeting business needs by ensuring a skilled workforce. This work-training model combines on-the-job training provided by the employer with related technical instruction most often delivered by local colleges and educational institutions.
The precise number of OJT and RTI hours needed will vary depending on the Apprenticeship. In most cases, apprentices must complete and document at least 2,000 hours of OJT and 144 hours of RTI.
OJT and RTI are not the same thing. Understanding the differences between the two will help your Program comply with all requirements of a Registered Apprenticeship.
Companies assign skilled journey workers and mentors to give apprentices hands-on training and mentoring on the job. Every Apprenticeship Program includes a key component called OJT, wherein apprentices perform the job under supervision. Their mentor can answer questions and ensure they receive proper training.
This structured training provides apprentices with a comprehensive understanding of the skills, knowledge, and practices required to perform the job. OJT can include hands-on instruction, observation and practice of specific tasks, and mentoring and coaching from more experienced workers.
RTI supplements OJT with classroom instruction, lab learning, textbook readings, and written exams to further develop apprentices’ skills. Apprentices receive a well-rounded education with the help of RTI and OJT and learn how to apply theory, concepts, and technical skills in the real world.
When OJT and RTI are thorough and complement each other, they provide apprentices with an opportunity to gain hands-on experience and practical knowledge, which helps them make a seamless transition from training to full-time employment.
How to Track OJT in Apprenticeships
One of the most important aspects of compliance with U.S. Department of Labor (U.S. DOL) rules and regulations is tracking OJT. It makes sure apprentices get the training they need to be successful on the job.
There are several ways you can track OJT for apprentices:
- Apprentices can track their hours in OJT logs that are reviewed and signed by their supervisor. Log entries should show the date, hours worked, and tasks performed.
- An electronic time tracking system can record and track OJT hours accurately and reliably. Program administrators can access these records through these systems to keep constant tabs on hours and progress.
- Progress reports are also helpful tools to track the progress of the apprentice and their completion of specific OJT tasks. A supervisor or instructor can review and sign these reports to ensure their accuracy.
- Job sheets can help you track OJT, apprentice progress, and give feedback to apprentices. These documents outline specific OJT tasks for apprentices to complete, expected outcomes, and completion criteria.
- Performance evaluations can be used to assess apprentices’ progress and give feedback on their performance. These evaluations can help identify training gaps and measure performance over time.
- You can also track OJT and RTI manually or with a software system. The U.S. DOL doesn’t require you to use software, but it simplifies tracking if you do. All the U.S. DOL requires is that you report training and education correctly.
Without the right tools, however, it can be difficult to track OJT. Some organizations rely on spreadsheets sent as email attachments between apprentices and supervisors. This method can get very confusing, and information can be lost, especially when managing many apprentices. Protecting data and confidentiality can get complicated, but it’s a necessary step to take. Still, adding in these protections can limit access to materials when needed.
An Apprenticeship Management System is a more efficient way to track OJT. Software programs like ApprentiScope help employers track OJT hours, task completion, and progress in a central location that both apprentices and supervisors can access.
When tracking OJT, using a tool that everyone can access from a smartphone with notifications and reminders is a surefire way to keep all parties on track.
Related Content: Training Approaches in Registered Apprenticeship Programs
Learn While You Earn (and Track)
Apprenticeships are a win for both employers and career seekers.
Registered Apprenticeship Programs can help your company attract—and retain—motivated employees to meet your needs for today and tomorrow, and career seekers can gain employable skills that lead to long-term, well-paying careers.
For apprentices and employers to reap the benefits of the earn-while-you-learn approach, a Registered Apprenticeship Program must have a solid OJT and RTI strategy and keep accurate records. ApprentiScope helps companies track this training in a central place where all inputs and outputs are automatically populated into forms.
While the Apprenticeship is ongoing, the data in this system can measure apprentice progress and identify gaps or deficiencies in training. Later, employers can use this data to generate reports for the U.S. DOL to ensure compliance with its rules and regulations.
Knowledge is power. If you want to know what apprentices are learning and comply with all rules and regulations, make sure your OJT tracking system covers all the necessary bases.