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National Center Helps Stakeholders Grow Construction Workforce with Resources for Strengthening Participation of Women in Apprenticeship

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, according to Jayne Vellinga, Executive Director of Chicago Women in Trades, the parent organization of the center.

By providing evidence-based strategies and practical applications, the center supports employers in their efforts to build and implement apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs and then provides ongoing support to ensure that more women successfully complete their apprenticeships and launch long-term careers in their trade.

Midwest stakeholders including registered apprenticeship sponsors, training providers, and workforce development professionals can benefit first hand from the center’s expertise by participating in the upcoming Building Women’s Equity in Apprenticeship and Employment: An Institute for Practitioners and Employers, which will be held Friday, October 13, 2017 before the start of the Women Build Nations conference in Chicago.

The multi-pronged approach taken by the center is a reflection of several factors influencing the availability of skilled laborers today.

“If I’m a contractor, I want to find some women that I’m going to cultivate and treat like an integral part of my workforce so when I bid on a project that has a female hiring goal, I already have a great skilled person that I know produces for me,” said Vellinga.

Bringing women into these careers is good for the employers but it’s also an issue of equity, according to Vellinga. In construction jobs, which have been traditionally held by male workers, a new employee with a high school diploma and no work experience will enter the field at nearly $20 per hour. In five years, that person could earn nearly $50 per hour. By contrast, roles with similar educational requirements in traditionally female jobs, such as Nurse’s Assistant, will enter the workforce at around $12 per hour and only increase their earning potential by a few dollars in five years.

A couple of years ago, the center received a Women in Apprenticeship and Nontraditional Occupations grant from the U.S. Department of Labor to set up a technical assistance center for the Midwest. The center was one of three grantees spanning the county. With this grant, the center has begun to expand their reach and bring technical assistance across the region.

The center works with their national partners, primarily unions, to develop technical assistance plans, provide training, help decipher regulations, and develop best practices and case studies. They provide employers assistance on issues as varied as recruitment and retention to domestic violence.

“It’s also about career choice,” explains Vellinga. “Not every woman is a nurturer. Not every woman without a college degree wants to work with children or old people or be a waitress. Women have wide range of interests whether they’ve had an opportunity to go to college or not. It’s important to have that level of career choice and the earning power that goes with jobs that have been traditionally male.”

In 2016, the center received an additional grant from the Department of Labor targeting equity partners. The center was named the lead agency for a consortium of 10 organizations around the country. This consortium includes virtually every funded tradeswoman organization in the country and works with the national Registered Apprenticeship program. The consortium assists apprenticeship program sponsors with their equal employment opportunity planning. They provide tools, guidance, technical assistance, training, and other services in support of building equity for women in apprenticeship. Today, women make up only 15% of all apprenticeships, and in the construction field, the numbers are much worse at just 3% nationwide.

An improving economy and projected workforce shortages are helping to spur momentum for women in trades. Vellinga also points out that certain incentive programs work exceptionally well to motivate positive hiring practices. The Illinois Tollway system, for example, offers earned credit to contractors who bid on construction projects for each woman or minority that is hired. What makes this program especially beneficial is that it also awards credit for retaining these employees. “So, if you’ve done a good job with your workforce, you don’t necessarily have to be the lowest bidder to be successful in getting a contract,” said Vellinga. “What I like about this system is that it rewards you for what you’ve done, not just what you say you’re going to do.”

In her 17 years at Chicago Women in Trades, Vellinga has seen significant improvement in the work environment for women in construction. As an example, she tells about one of the plumber’s unions she works with in the Chicago area. Just four years ago, this group had just two women in their apprenticeship program. However, with a change in mindset among the union’s leadership, they started bringing more women into the program. Today, they have 32 women in their apprenticeship program and are also supporting a robust mentorship program.

“Last year, for the first time in this local’s history, they sent women as delegates to the union association convention. And not just one woman, but three,” said Vellinga.  “These numbers are going to make the difference. You can’t ignore, refuse to train or create an untenable work environment for an important percentage of your workforce.”

For more information on the center or on the Women Build Nations conference, contact Jayne Vellinga by email at jvellinga@cwit2.org.

Exponential Growth in Registered Apprenticeship in Transportation Fueled by Accelerator Activity and Industry Commitment

Registered apprenticeship programs are growing to meet the demands of the transportation sector. A powerful tool for companies to develop the talent they need to fill positions, apprenticeship is being adopted to address workforce gaps in a growing array of occupations. The U.S. Department of Labor funds intermediaries such as FASTPORT and TransPORTs to develop registered apprenticeship programs and expand the number of apprentices for employers in the transportation and logistics industry.

“I am currently working with a large supply chain exporter with 60 branches in the U.S. Their vice president reached out to us because he wants to use apprenticeship to build his workforce,” said Barbara Murray, TransPORTs Apprenticeship and Partnership Development Expert. “He said there are great supply chain programs out there and named a couple of universities. But, then he said the graduates of those programs have great theoretical knowledge but they don’t have any work experience so they really still can’t go to work.” Plus, Murray pointed out, it is at this point that new graduates often discover that the job is not a good fit.

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.

Resources such as videos and the new SMART Maritime and Transportation Career Pathways and Occupations Toolkit are available to help spread the word about the growing number of maritime occupations available through registered apprenticeship.

“My role has been changing the face of what apprenticeship is. Those professional careers can all be done with apprenticeship. The only way to do that is have people understand what apprenticeship is,” said Murray. “There are so many open positions right now where the people applying don’t have the needed skills. There’s a mismatch. More can be done than just taking classes and sitting in a classroom. Actually taking relevant classes that are matched to the work that you’re doing; that’s the difference.”

Truck drivers are an in-demand group and accordingly, this was one of the earliest national training standards program developed.
“We now have nine national employer companies sponsoring registered apprenticeship programs. Through these there are currently 814 apprentices operating on the national standards with a truck driving apprenticeship,” said Dave Harrison, Executive Director of National Apprenticeship at FASTPORT.

One of the key boosts to apprenticeship has been the advent of national apprenticeship standards, which facilitate the expansion of programs across states and make it easier to replicate programs.

“In 2014 an idea was born and some of us in the industry started actually writing what is called the National Standard of Apprenticeship, even before anything was passed in legislation. We just believed it was going to happen,” said Harrison. “It’s just been since the middle of 2015 that we started getting engagement on national strategies. So, if you look at it, it’s not very old.”

Truck drivers and diesel mechanics are some of the most in-demand employees being developed through apprenticeship today.

But there has been a lot of growth in a short time. Since the beginning, Harrison points out the truck driver segment has experienced the greatest growth, because that’s the biggest area of need. Moving forward, other related occupations are beginning to catch up. These include occupations like diesel mechanic and fleet manager. FASTPORT currently has programs for eight occupations in this area.

Over the next two years, Harrison predicts explosive growth in apprentices joining programs for freight broker or cargo broker and related occupations. These occupations are increasingly important to the world economy “because they integrate everything, air, land, and sea,” said Harrison.

In maritime, employers around our nation’s ports have diverse workforce needs and the new occupations being pursued for apprenticeship reflect this diversity. “The hot jobs include electro-mechanical, welder, HVAC, crane operator, logistics associate, freight forwarder, and, most recently, graphic designer,” said Murray.

Currently in process, FASTPORT is working to co-sponsor a new registered apprenticeship program with the Transportation Intermediaries Association (TIA) to launch programs for freight brokers. With over 1700 employers as part of their association, this TIA program will quickly rival truck driver programs in terms of enrolled apprentices.

Harrison sites partnerships with industry as the driving factor for apprenticeship program successes. It is the industry connections which helps guide the best practices for reaching employers. One of the key activities they do is host accelerator events, often as part of national trade conferences. FASTPORT will be attending the Great American Trucking Show in Dallas, August 24-26. “This is a great event and I would encourage anyone interested in apprenticeship and the transportation industry to attend,” said Harrison.

“A lot of what we do is make it simpler and quicker for companies,” said Murray. She cites the U.S. Department of Labor’s commitment to the ApprenticeshipUSA program with contributing to their success by adding more people but not more administrative layers. “We have more people, more opportunities to work face-to-face with companies and turn their programs around more quickly,” she said.

To learn more about starting an apprenticeship program, contact Dave Harrison at dave.harrison@fastport.com or Barbara Murray at brmurray77@gmail.com.

Designed for Generation Z, Online Pre-Apprenticeship Offers Wisconsin Students a Fast Track to High-Demand Careers

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.

Transcripts of Apprenticeship Webinar and Call Available

The transcript of the MTWC webinar, “Why all the momentum for Registered Apprenticeships? What are they?” held December 8th is now available for download on the MTWC website. Here, you can also view the recording of the webinar as well as download the presentation slides and other helpful resource materials.

After the webinar, a follow-up call was scheduled to allow more time to ask questions of the panel of experts about registered apprenticeship programs. The transcript of this call is also available on the website.

Seven Things You Didn’t Know About Transportation Apprenticeships

Apprenticeship offers an “earn-while-you-learn” pathway to career development for people new to the workforce. Industries, such as heavy construction, have been successfully utilizing apprenticeship to develop talent and maintain a robust workforce for many decades.

More recently, a variety of new approaches and innovations have changed what apprenticeship programs look like and have expanded the number and variety of job roles for which apprenticeship can be applied. This is especially true for the Transportation industry.

Meeting the needs of a rapidly evolving industry has been challenging for today’s employers in the Transportation industry. Business leaders are helping to identify talent gaps and build resources, like apprenticeship programs, to grow the pipeline of talent entering the Transportation workforce.

“Transportation Industry apprenticeships are increasing in demand, thanks to the competent training and mentoring fostered by employer partnerships, with community colleges and technical institutions leading the way,” said Jay O’Connor, Public Service Administrator at the Illinois Department of Employment Security.

(1) This is not your grandfather’s apprenticeship.

Dr. Thomas Ritchie, Program Manager with the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), notes that the apprenticeship paradigm has changed drastically in recent years. “It is not your grandfather’s apprenticeship,” he said. But, as Ritchie also noted at the October 2016 Workforce Development Summit of the Federal Transit Administration, work needs to be done to change the perception of what apprentices are. Today, apprenticeship programs cover a wide range of non-traditional industries, with Transportation being one of the newcomers to the field.

“Apprenticeships are experiencing a modern renaissance in America because the earn-while-learn model is a win-win proposition for workers looking to punch their ticket to the middle-class and for employers looking to grow and thrive in our modern global economy.” — U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez

(2) Companies that sponsor apprentices receive measurable improvements to their bottom line.

Apprenticeship is a proven talent development strategy that answers the skills gap, builds loyalty, reduces turn-over rates, and helps increase productivity, according to Dr. Rebecca Lake, Dean of Workforce and Economic Development at Harper College. Employers that utilize apprentices report higher productivity, higher retention rates and a substantial return on investment.

“The Registered Apprenticeship program we have developed ensures that the transition into new careers n trucking is smooth. It has enabled us to attract and retain safe and productive drivers.” ~ Duane Boswell, Vice president of driver recruiting, TMC Transportation.

(3) There is training and support available in every state to develop and grow apprenticeship programs.

apprenticeshipusa

The U.S. Department of Labor awarded the American Apprenticeship Grants totaling $175 million in 2015 to expand apprenticeship programs. Then, in October 2016, an additional $50.5 million in grants were awarded to help 37 states expand apprenticeship programs.

An example of state-level support can be seen at the Illinois Department of Employment Security, which supports ALL bona fide apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs. There are over 120 partnerships listed on their Apprenticeship web sites at for job seekers, and for employers and trades.

There are also opportunities to offset the costs of running an apprenticeship program. Grants are available through the U.S. Department of Education and the GI Bill Program. President Obama set a goal of 700,000 Registered Apprenticeships in the U.S. by 2020, and currently there are about 500,000.

For information on resources available read, “The Federal Resources Playbook for Registered Apprenticeship.”

(4) Membership has its benefits for sponsors of Registered Apprenticeship programs.

Any employer with a Registered Apprenticeship program can be part of their local workforce investment board, which sets policy and determines where funding goes.

(5) Apprenticeship programs can be sponsored by Community Colleges.

Select community colleges have become sponsors of Registered Apprenticeship programs in the U.S. and more are following suit. This emerging model reduces the administrative burden and streamlines the process for all of the participating companies.

“It’s win-win-win,” said Melissa MacGregor, Manager of Workforce Grants at Harper College in the northwest suburbs of Chicago, IL. “The students get training and certification and have no debt when they graduate. The companies get young employees with the skills the company is specifically seeking. And, the community colleges create partnerships with industry and attract more students that they wouldn’t otherwise have enrolled; very desirable students, who stay for the duration and complete what they’ve started.”

For more information about options available to community colleges, visit the Registered Apprenticeship College Consortium website.

(6) Mentoring an apprentice raises employee morale.

Not only does apprenticeship facilitate the transfer of knowledge from experienced employees to the apprentices, it also has been shown to boost workplace morale.
According to Lake, apprenticeship works particularly well when an employee who is nearing retirement is assigned as a mentor to an apprentice. The two-to-three-year timeframe of an apprenticeship allows that important knowledge transfer to take place before the older employee is lost to retirement.

But, beyond being an investment in maintaining organizational knowledge, employers also find that it fosters employee engagement by demonstrating to the mentor that his or her experience is valued. Further, mentoring is an effective way to instill the company mission among the employees, since mentors transmit values as well as expertise.

(7) Transportation apprenticeships span a wide range of careers.

Transportation apprenticeships can be found in:

Maritime

Careers in this area include such occupations as Marine Electrical, Maritime Welding, Marine Mechanical, and Marine Engineering.
“The registered apprenticeship pathway is the gold standard for the shipbuilding, repair, maintenance and modernization sector of the maritime and transportation industry,” according to Barbara Murray, Director and Principal Investigator for the National Science Foundation Southeast Maritime and Transportation (SMART) Center. “Apprentices leave college with a certificate or degree debt-free, with valuable industry credentials, on-the-job experience, and years of earning full-time pay and benefits. It’s an incomparable route for students to start on a great career path and for employers to grow their own workforce.”
One example includes the Paul Hall Center for Maritime Training and Education, which, since 2003, has used a Registered Apprenticeship program to prepare over 3,000 U.S. Mariners. This is the largest program of its kind for entry-level seafarers in the U.S. Participants who complete the training and graduate in good standing from the program are guaranteed jobs as Merchant Marines. Students may also receive college credit recommendations for successfully completing certain sanctioned courses. In addition to licenses and post-secondary credit, the program also offers a complete high school equivalency program (GED), adult basic education and study skills, and English as a second language (ESOL).

Logistics

Harper College in Illinois is launching a Registered Apprenticeship program in Supply Chain Management in January 2017. Apprentices will work three days a week and attend classes two days a week. After two-and-a-half years, the apprentice earns an A.A.S. degree in Manufacturing Technology with a Specialization in Supply Chain Management-Logistics with up to six industry recognized credentials from the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals.

Trucking

Hiring military Veterans is a focus of J.B. Hunt, a company that has committed to employing 10,000 Veterans by 2020. As a Registered Apprenticeship Program provider, the company offers the CDL-A Hiring Program and the Military Finisher Program. The first caters to Veterans who are interested in pursuing professional driving as their civilian career, while the latter is a fast track program for those who have experience driving heavy equipment during their service time.
Through the CDL-A and Military Finisher programs, Veterans are paid a stable income while they complete orientation, driving school, and behind-the-wheel training. They assume their responsibilities at either a local or regional Dedicated Contract Services or Intermodal fleet. As a participant in the 12-month J. B. Hunt National Apprenticeship Program, one may also be eligible to receive a GI Bill Monthly Housing Allowance (MHA) payment from the VA in addition to his or her paycheck.

Heavy Construction- Operating Engineers

Apprenticeship for construction careers building transportation infrastructure have been around for decades. Instruction leading to a journeyman credential can be offered at a community college or a union or non-union training facility.

Transit

Occupations in this area include Transit Coach Operator, Bus Maintenance, Rail Vehicle Maintenance, Elevator-Escalator Maintenance, and Signals Maintenance.

More apprentice opportunities are planned in this sector. Under the Transit Apprenticeship Initiative organized by the Transportation Learning Center, participating agencies will build or expand apprenticeship programs.

 

Apprenticeship provides industry leaders with a unique opportunity to directly influence and shape the future of their workforce. In a time when many industries are struggling with a diminishing talent pool due to attrition from retirement and a lack of visibility among new employees entering the workforce, new models of apprenticeship offer an ideal solution for transferring knowledge, growing career awareness, and attracting talent.

National Apprenticeship Week Events in the Midwest

November 14-20, 2016 is National Apprenticeship Week.

All across the country, organizations are hosting events to spread the news about apprenticeships as a way to attract talent and retain valuable employees.

NAW offers Registered Apprenticeship sponsors the opportunity to showcase their programs, facilities, and apprentices, and gives Employers, Education, Industry Associations, Labor, Elected officials and other critical partners the opportunity to highlight how Registered Apprenticeship meets their needs for a skilled workforce. 

In the Midwest, many unions are hosting open houses and tours of their facilities to share information on construction apprenticeships.  Some sites include the Operating Engineers Local 513 Training Facility in Silex, Missouri, the Wisconsin Operating Engineers Training Facility in Coloma, Wisconsin, and the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150 in Wilmington, Illinois.

In Kansas, the Wichita Workforce Center will host a Corporate Leader lunch to talk about Registered Apprenticeship and veterans. Other workforce centers hosting events include the St. Louis Agency on Training and Employment (SLATE).

Mott Community College in Flint Michigan is hosting a number of events during the month of November including a celebration of registered apprenticeship, and a breakfast for employers.  Other community colleges such as Hawkeye Community College in Waterloo, Iowa, are offering informational sessions, and Ivy Tech Community College is hosting Job Fairs both in Fort Wayne and South Bend, Indiana.

Nationally, TMC Transportation will be releasing a video on truck driving and apprenticeships.

To see all the events 640 and counting, by industry sector  or target group please visit the Department of Labor webiste.

Community College Sponsored Apprenticeships Fill the Talent Pipeline without all the Paperwork

In January, students will be sitting down for their first class of Supply Chain Management 101, part of the curriculum of the newly launched Logistics/Supply Chain Management Registered Apprenticeship program at Harper College in Palatine, Illinois. The next day, the students will go to work where they will start applying their classroom-acquired knowledge to the real-world applications provided by the companies that employ them.

In the spring of 2019, these students will graduate with an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree in Manufacturing Technology with a specialization in Supply Chain Management – Logistics. Additionally, they will have acquired up to seven industry recognized credentials earned through the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP) and a Department of Labor (DoL) certification that they are fully qualified for their occupation. At the same time, the companies, having paid the students’ wages and tuition throughout this process, will gain highly qualified employees ready to hit the ground running with a specialized understanding of how the principals are applied at their organization. Read more

Labor Department Provides $50.5 Million in Grants for Apprenticeships

Deadline: September 7, 2016
Grant Website

The United States Department of Labor recently announced the availability of the ApprenticeshipUSA State Expansion Grants, which provides $50.5 million worth of funding to help states expand and diversify apprenticeship opportunities. Read more

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