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The Value of Apprenticeship in Today’s Emerging Market



The Federal Registered Apprenticeship system got a boost this week when the Biden Administration recommitted itself to job generation through its use in planned infrastructure investments and its support of the National Apprenticeship Act of 2020 moving its way through Congress now.

These actions, along with rescinding the Industry Recognized Apprenticeship Program (IRAP), refocus federal investment in quality career on ramps that support business expansion and workforce development by equipping American workers for the new global economy. That these significant policy priorities come on the heels of an economy emerging from a global pandemic and reinforce governments role as a spark for economic development and job generation creates, potentially, a rapid on-ramp to economic recovery.

The Registered system is designed for employer customization and focused on the development of a broad well-equipped workforce that raises the standard preparation of workers through occupation-specific preparation. This model of blended learning that includes industry-focused technical education and couples it to on-the-job performance training, lends itself specifically to the modern era of employment.

Leading employers that include Amazon, Microsoft and HP have discovered the value of apprenticeship as they expand their operations by looking beyond traditional recruitment and creating direct opportunities for people with the capacity to learn on the job while they produce work and gain valuable experience that makes them employable in their industry. This type of recruitment model means businesses like AON and Zurich have figured out that you do not have to compete for the highest cost general education talent from major universities and can find capable untapped talent that meets your entry standards and generates workers with recognized credentials specific for your industry needs. This is what leading tech operations with efficient delivery design are doing when they scour the internet creating programming tests and alternate on-ramps to employment. This emerging workforce is trained in the employer’s system and capable of delivering work at a reduced cost because the federal system allows for progressive wages tied to the level of competence as apprentices move through their training. In effect this permits employers to review worker progress, capacity to contribute and company fit--all at a reduced cost. For workers, it allows them to gain access to a family transforming career without long term college debt, capturing industry recognized certification that are portable while earning wages that increase in line with their contributions to the bottom line.

The Administration’s decision to invest and deepen federal commitment to Apprenticeship also represents opportunities for rapid massive job growth. By connecting it to infrastructure investments and elevating the requirements around utilization, state and local governments can generate local jobs that are meaningful. I would encourage our leaders to go a step further and make apprenticeship utilization a requirement in the acquisition of federally funded contracts. This single move would generate millions of jobs from tech to healthcare, manufacturing to professional services and spark a broad strengthening of our national workforce by industry sector, making more workers available exactly where the U.S. economy needs them. In a multi-trillion-dollar spending environment, a small 5% workforce requirement to use apprenticeship if awarded a contract from a government agency would translate into massive savings across government spending and generate millions of work hours to equip the American workforce for the emerging global economy. It also allows business to drive the response to market trends by preparing their workforce specifically to address client needs and efficiently lowering recruitment costs and increasing retention rates. According to the Department of Labor, “Apprenticeship programs have retention rates; 91% of apprentices retain employment after the program ends.”

As demand for transparent inclusion design continues to drive consumer engagement and business decision making, apprenticeship also represents an opportunity to create pathways for disadvantaged workers. The EEO built into the Registered Apprenticeship adoption model levels the playing field for applicants and also allows for targeted prioritizing by employers, so if a company is focused on creating opportunities for Women, Veterans or People of Color, programs can be tailored to those priorities while also incentivizing employers to generate those opportunities. IP recently released an E-Book on Priority Hire to help employers think through some of the considerations they should be taking into account as they address the market demand for inclusive hiring and supply chain strategies. Historically apprenticeship has been proven to create access to work for disadvantaged workers and helped employers meet their targets around inclusion.

Today, IP is releasing some new tools to help employers, government leaders and individuals workers understand how apprenticeship works, where to find resources related to apprenticeship and the value of apprenticeship as a workforce development design model that is proven. I hope we take advantage of the strongest historical model in workforce training we have and use it to modernize, update and make our employers competitive. These tools point to the advantage for business in potential tax incentives, wage offsets and training investments that allow them to generate competitive workforces and create meaningful opportunities for the American worker. This month, Intelligent Partnerships has released guidance on Apprenticeship Utilization for workers, business, and government to help utilize and implement the programs.

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