Apprenticeship Holds an Important Key to Workforce Solutions

Apprenticeship Holds an Important Key to Workforce Solutions

Don Shilling

Today’s blog post, “Apprenticeship Holds an Important Key to Workforce Solutions,” is a new contribution from Don Shilling.

Brandeis Machinery Inc was recently recognized by the Associated Equipment Distributors trade association for their Industry Recognized Apprenticeship Program (IRAP’s) a program which they initiated in 2015. They are “Growing Their Own” as I have mentioned in my previous blogs. Apprenticeship Programs may be an important key for your organization to participate also in “Growing Your Own”.

Our company developed two Department of Labor Certified Apprenticeship Program a few years back and I must say when you throw around words like “Certification” or “Department of Labor” into the discussion it may sound a bit scary, or cumbersome or onerous. Not True. Let me explain by describing our experience, hopefully after this exercise your organization might be comfortable in developing your own Apprenticeship Program and start solving your own workforce shortages.

The Department of Labor has literally scores of certified apprenticeship programs reviewed and approved each with standards to follow and give guidance. If you go to their website you probably identify an apprenticeship program that exists and fits your needs. Great if that works. If you call your local Department of Labor Apprenticeship Office, they can help you in setting up your own program that follows those existing standards.

In our case, it was not so simple. The two programs we developed were not on the existing DOL list of apprenticeships. We decided to develop our own and not to jump to far ahead in this story but with the help of the Apprenticeship Director at our local DOL Office he approved the elements of our program that were different and married them with an existing program, to catalog a new unique program which is what we have.

A typical Apprenticeship Program is three years in duration and 6,000 man hours of mentoring and on the job training. Your supervisors are the ones monitoring and mentoring the Apprentice and they sign off on completion of each phase of this training.

In our case, we identified skill areas that we felt were more important than others and those areas needed additional skills training for an apprentice in our industry. We also identified Technical college classes we required the apprentice to enroll in, whether On Line or in the Classroom. Our goal was to fit some classroom work into a schedule the apprentice can handle and the On the Job skills training in most cases paralleled the classroom work.

When you break down our Apprenticeship Program it is more like 4,000 to 5,000 man hours of On the Job Skills training and about 1,500 man hours of classroom and on-line learning. On line learning does not have to be limited to Technical College credits but Certified Programs with measured results are important. Besides technical classes we also selected important classes like Safety, First Aid, Forklift Operation, Customer Service, Marketing and Inventory Analysis.

Once reviewed by the DOL Apprenticeship Director our program was signed off on and approved for Certification. As the Apprentice completes each phase of this program, we report to the DOL and at the end a Certification will be awarded to the Apprentice. The Apprentice owns that and takes it with him/her just like a diploma from a Technical College.

What is wonderful about the program is these individuals working through our apprenticeship program have exactly the skill sets we want and we needed. Very positive for us. The real winner however is the apprentice. An apprentice that has worked for you for three years and has achieved his certification is not only proud and loyal to your company but is on a career track with the skills to advance within your system.

Finally, the Department of Labor currently has a major push in place to expand on Industry Recognized Apprenticeship Programs (IRAP’s) thus many local State Agencies have access to funding from the DOL to develop and support these new Apprenticeships. It would be well worth your time to identify where an apprenticeship might work in your business and how that apprenticeship position needs to be configured to best fit your needs. Seek out help from the DOL and local agencies to bring this initiative into your organization. Today the skilled workforce will no longer be just “delivered to your door step”, instead you must develop a pathway for careers in the industry and ways for our youth to access those pathways. Good luck on your Workforce Development journey.