and other areas—VGCC has two adult
apprentices in its HVAC program and is
in talks with industry partners to form a
welding apprenticeship—the challenge
comes in setting parameters for companies insisting on veteran-level production from new workers.
“Students coming through our welding program may be expected to hit the
ground running with individuals who
have been with the company for years,”
Wilson says. “We tell companies that we
were all young once, and started jobs
where we couldn’t keep up. People learn
on the job and it’s going to take years to
GROWING ACROSS INDUSTRIES
The apprenticeship model also is being
harnessed in non-traditional sectors,
with programs tapped as alternatives to
Expansion into tech and other
industries is part of Trump’s apprenticeship roadmap, which identifies skills
shortages and quantifies the benefits of
apprentices in meeting labor challenges.
As a member of the 20-person apprenticeship taskforce, Bumphus heard from
CEOs who championed community college efforts in shepherding through the
next class of skill-rich jobseekers.
Bumphus says about 320 community
colleges have Department of Labor-registered apprenticeships, a figure that
could grow with continued industry
support. Task force members also discussed the need for increased equity in
the trades, a role Bumphus believes can
be filled by community college students.
“Industries are looking at us because of
the diversity of our enrollment,” Bumphus
says. “We’re a place they can go to find a
more diverse employee population.”
The overall demand for apprentices
is certainly evident, observers say: More
than 533,000 people held apprentice-
ships in the U.S. during fiscal year 2017,
an upsurge of 42 percent since 2013,
according to the Labor Department.
Programs range in length from one
to six years, with occupations includ-
ing home health aide and emergency
medical technician offering one- and
Moberly Area Community College
(MACC) in Missouri is working with
IBM to recruit for “new collar” positions
in IT. The first class of apprentices
started this fall, focusing on mainframe
systems administration, data analysis
and other skills to put them in line
for well-paying jobs left by a so-called
“silver tsunami” of retirees.
“IBM’s been having issues getting
people for these positions, so through
the apprenticeship they’re bringing in
people to develop those skills,” says Jo
Fey, MACC’s dean of workforce development and technical education.
From MACC’s perspective, students
seeking an associate degree in networking or programming will obtain apprenticeship credits, then return to school
to complete their education, bolstering
program retention and giving completers a chance to be hired at a higher
salary. Mentoring from IBM staffers if a
further bulwark in increasing program
persistence, Fey says.
“The apprenticeship model creates a
network of support for the person while
they’re going through the program,”
she says. “Companies save money on
retention themselves and get a higher
quality, more fully trained employee.”
DELIVERING HIGH-QUALITY EMPLOYEES
Considering apprenticeships are
positive endeavors for trades, Harold
Washington College is betting it can
impact the financial services industry as
well. The Chicago-based college linked
with Aon, a leading insurer, to employ
separate cohorts of 20 and 21 students
in the firm’s human resources, IT and
insurance business departments.
Each week, participants spend an
average of 28 hours working and 12 hours
taking classes, earning $55,000 annually
in a compensation package that includes
tuition and a retirement savings plan.
Upon successful completion of the program, Aon will offer apprentices a full-time job and career track.
The first group of apprentices, set
to graduate in December, is highly
motivated and emblematic of a population eager to make up the country’s
middle-skills shortfall, whether blue
collar or white, says Paul Thompson,
executive director of apprenticeship
and workforce solutions for City
Colleges of Chicago.
“A big part of it for us is taking
the burden away from employers
and continuing to be a great partner,”
Thompson says. “We want to hold up
our end of the bargain, and make sure
we’re delivering high-quality candidates
and responding to industry requirements around the curriculum piece.”
Moberly Area Community College students in the IBM apprenticeship program.