On August 22, employers from across the state came together to discuss how apprenticeship might address challenges in hiring, training, and retention in Public Works occupations across Wisconsin municipalities. The Midwest Transportation Research Center (MTWC) partnered with the Bureau of Apprenticeship Standards at the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD) to host the full-day meeting. Twenty people came together in Madison, Wisconsin, along with half a dozen people who attended virtually via live webcast.
The US Department of Labor and the non-profit, Project Lead The Way (PLTW), have partnered to launch a pilot youth apprenticeship program in engineering. Kicking off this fall in Charleston, SC, the pilot offers two pathways to meet the needs of students with different career goals.
Results from a statewide survey identify gaps in recruitment, retention, skills, and training for a critical segment of the workforce in Wisconsin municipalities. The Midwest Transportation Workforce Center (MTWC) has published its report on the 2017 Wisconsin Highway Maintenance Workforce Survey. As part of its Highway Maintenance Engineering Career Pathways Initiative, MTWC conducted the survey to capture information about the demand for entry-level workers, hiring issues, training practices, and stakeholder outlook in this field. After analyzing the responses, MTWC researchers conclude there is a clear opportunity to put registered apprenticeship to work creating career pathways for this critical sector.
A major flood event helped demonstrate the value of having a public works team that was cross-trained and certified. In 2009, the city grew a cross-training program into a Registered Apprenticeship, creating the first journeyman program in the nation for field services professionals in public works. It includes street, water line, and wastewater line maintenance.
The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) is growing its apprenticeship program and finding other ways to attract, train, and retain employees using strategies supported by data.
A suite of games, videos, and assessment tools is helping build awareness and close the skills gap for the growing number of quality careers in highway construction. In partnership with Constructors Association of Western Pennsylvania (CAWP), Ladders of Opportunity, and the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, Simcoach Games has developed the Future Road Builders game. This game addresses a concerning talent gap seen by employers by allowing people to explore the field and develop skills.
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.
Working simultaneously with unions, contractors, women, and students, the National Center for Women’s Equity in Apprenticeship and Employment is helping the construction industry grow the skilled workforce it needs by incorporating and retaining more women. One way the center is doing this is by bringing registered apprenticeship to bear as a proven strategy to grow and retain talent.
Combine the career readiness that apprenticeship provides with the astoundingly high retention rates of 87-93% of employees who complete apprenticeship programs, and it is clear why more companies are turning to groups like TransPORTs and FASTPORTS, for assistance in getting new programs up and running for an increasing number of occupations.
In recognition of the importance of workforce issues to Wisconsin’s contractors, Wisconsin Operating Engineers partnered with Destinations Career Academy to develop the Operating Engineers Pre-Apprenticeship Program. This program prepares students for registered apprenticeship while still in high school. Hosted through the McFarland School district in south-central Wisconsin, this program is available through course options to students throughout the state.
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