With benefits like an 88% retention rate for apprentices, a built-in source of high-performing students, and an increasing interest among businesses, more and more community and technical colleges are seeing the value in sponsoring registered apprenticeship programs through the US Department of Labor. By being a program sponsor, the college takes on the responsibility of classroom education as well as all the paperwork, ultimately making it easy for employers to hire apprentices. In this model, even small companies, who are hiring just one or two apprentices at a time, can use this proven method to grow their talent pipelines.
When Harper College in Palatine, Illinois, began their program, they were one of just three colleges in the country that were Registered Apprenticeship program sponsors. The growth in sponsorship among community colleges can be seen on the website for the Registered Apprenticeship College Consortium (RACC), which currently lists 23 colleges that are program sponsors.
One state, Georgia, has taken this to the next level by working to approve most of the technical colleges in the state to act as Registered Apprenticeship sponsors through Georgia WorkSmart, a work-based learning initiative operated by the Georgia Department of Economic Development.
Businesses are also increasingly taking advantage of apprenticeship to grow expertise within their workforce.
“We’re finding that, after their first experience, companies want to expand and add apprentices in different industries,” said Dr. Rebecca Lake, Dean of Workforce and Economic Development at Harper College. For example, Lake pointed to one company that had enrolled an apprentice in Harper’s Logistics/Supply Chain Management program and then came back the next year with an apprentice for the Banking/Finance program, because they had a need in that area of their business, as well.
Like apprenticeship programs across the country, Harper is growing their Registered Apprenticeship programs in white collar industries. Their newer programs include Banking/Finance, Sales & Retail Manangement, and Graphic Arts Print Production. A program in Cyber Security is also in the works.
Lake is actively working to develop an apprenticeship program for truck drivers at Harper College. To do this, she is utilizing a curriculum created by another college in Illinois, another benefit to community colleges that join the RACC.
“If you’re part of the network, you can get curricula. You, don’t have to reinvent the wheel,” said Lake.