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An apprentice learns from a teacher in an automotive shop.

You’re likely to find them in all walks of life: soccer fields, machine shops, artisan studios, and multinational corporations.

Throughout history, some of the most influential and well-known individuals began their careers as apprentices. Soccer great David Beckham started as one before joining Manchester United Football Club. Automobile manufacturer Henry Ford left home at 16 to become an apprentice machinist before eventually founding his namesake company. Stella McCartney, daughter of musical legend Paul McCartney, completed an apprenticeship with world-renowned suit maker, Edward Sexton. And, Leonardo Da Vinci went on to become one of the greatest painters, sculptors, and inventors of all time after apprenticing.

Loosely following a practice of supervisory teaching and skills transfer that dates back to the Babylonian Code of Hammurabi, an apprentice would typically receive on-the-job training from employers as they learned crafts or trades. The length of an apprenticeship would change to meet the needs of each profession, and differed in terms of success factors and goals.

The Modern-Day Apprentice

Fast forward to 2019, where the apprenticeship is still a crucial part of skills-based training, and on-the-job learning. In June, the U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL) announced their highly-anticipated plans to expand apprenticeships in the United States, establishing a process for the development of high-quality, industry-recognized programs, and creating a new system that will pave the way for educational institutions to receive grants when they partner with employers.

Part of their campaign includes the availability of grant funding to engage employers nationwide in creating new apprenticeship opportunities across a wide range of occupations and industry sectors. Eligible grant applicants will include nonprofit trade organizations, industry and employer associations, educational institutions, labor unions, and more.

The Labor Department will support local efforts with the availability of Apprenticeship State Expansion Grants. Their hope is to expand the number of Registered Apprenticeship Programs nationwide, supporting and encouraging program diversification, increasing the diversity of apprentices, and growing apprenticeships across industry sectors. Together, these program goals have the potential to advance the integration of Registered Apprenticeship Programs into state workforce development, education, and economic development strategies and programs.

The United States Department of Labor apprenticeships home screen 
Source: Apprenticeships.gov

Rising to the Occasion

As part of the USDOL’s renewed investment in on-the-job training, several states have moved to add robust apprenticeship programs to their workforce program repertoire.

Out west, the California Workforce Association’s Executive Director, Bob Lanter, shared with attendees at the 2019 Workforce Technology Conference that members of his state’s workforce development, education, training, and employment industries have joined forces to form the California Youth Apprenticeship Coalition (CAYAC). The group will work alongside statewide subject matter experts to build an integrated and universally-accessible youth apprenticeship system, potentially open to as many as 500,000 Californians by 2029.

Considered one of the state’s “best kept secrets,” apprenticeships have grown by over 50 percent since 2014. If CAYAC’s plans succeed, the group expects to see California’s apprenticeship pool grow to 750,000, a reduction in student debt by $16 billion, and a decline in youth unemployment by 3 percent. 

In Missouri, there are already 500 registered programs, and almost 15,000 active apprenticeships. Through a highly-flexible, “earn while you learn” model, the Missouri Registered Apprenticeships program pays more as a worker, or apprentice, reaches higher productivity levels.  

Source: Missouri Registered Apprenticeships website

In Maryland, the state’s Department of Labor announced their recently-approved grant will help the Maryland Apprenticeships and Training Program (MATP) continue their mission, which this year reached a noteworthy accomplishment of 10,000 apprentices statewide. The MATP reported that the number of apprenticeships has increased by 30 percent since 2016.

And, in South Dakota, there are 600 apprentices in 154 programs across the state. They plan to increase these numbers through 2022, especially in key industries such as healthcare, manufacturing, food service, computer science, and information technology.

Employers Stake Their Claim

Many employers have followed suit, rising to the occasion with their own programs. Agricultural machinery giant John Deere launched theirs in July to fill a widespread shortage of service technicians, and Allied Health West recently launched their Registered Medical Assistant Apprenticeship in Oregon, which also employs the “earn-and-learn” model.  

To complement this major policy announcement from the USDOL, Geographic Solutions has created the new Registered Apprenticeship Module, which will provide full case management for the employment and training requirements of registered apprenticeship expansion grants. Contact us to learn more

The Next Da Vinci

A critical component in workforce development even in the 21st century, the USDOL’s most recent strategy ensures that apprentices will continue to get their start learning from influential leaders. And, future generations will get to see the next Ford, Da Vinci, or McCartney rise from student to teacher.
 



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