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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.

Taking Hands-On Experiences on the Road Reaches More than Students

Employees with specific skills and a technical education are in demand in the transportation industry and this need is growing. Unfortunately, too few young people are being ushered toward transportation careers. Over the past decade, the nation’s K-12 educational systems have worked hard to deliver students to four-year degree programs at universities. This focus has greatly reduced the number of shop and hands-on technical classes, resulting in dwindling opportunities to expose students to the sorts of careers that drive the transportation industry today.

The Minnesota State Transportation Center of Excellence is determined to reverse this trend by providing young people with in-person, hands-on experiences, while demonstrating the value to parents, school administrators, industry representatives, and others. They are doing this with a new mobile outreach unit, a trailer decked out with stations for each transportation mode that is pulled by a truck. The trailer is outfitted with several pieces of equipment, creating hands-on stations where students, counselors, teachers, peers, and parents can participate in real activities that occur in transportation careers. These activities showcase the technology in the industry and help students develop passion for transportation careers.

“It’s one thing to put out a webinar, put out a newsletter, or tell someone about these careers,” said Chris Hadfield, Director of the Minnesota State Transportation Center of Excellence. But, he pointed out, it’s completely different when students and their parents visit the trailer and have that hands-on experience.

The mobile unit was used for the first time in early May at an event where high school students were competing to build fuel efficient miniature cars with lawn mower engines. The event hosted about 700 attendees and approximately 200-300 people walked through the trailer.

The Minnesota State Transportation Center of Excellence’s new mobile outreach unit is equipped with hands-on experiences representing each mode of transportation.

Inside, the center has designed an experience that promotes engagement with not just the students. School decision makers and parents, which the center refers to as influencers, are also targeted by the trailer.

“You have to have something to draw them in, the big trailer does that. Then you have to have industry partnerships,” said Hadfield. The goal is to have industry representatives from each transportation sector accompany the trailer at events. These industry volunteers work alongside center staff to greet people and talk about transportation jobs.

“We know that when we put an industry person in front of a school superintendent while they’re seeing students get engaged with the experience, that’s when we start to have real conversations about bringing their tech programs back, bringing their transportation programs back, maybe doing some cool internship or apprenticeship with us,” said Hadfield.

Involving industry representatives in outreach activities also serves to bring the transportation sectors together.

“Our idea is to have somebody from the trucking industry sitting side by side, two feet away from, somebody from the aviation sector and they’re side by side with somebody from the railroad and so on and so forth. We have these people mingling and they hadn’t realized before that they have something in common and now they realize that they do. And, common denominators mean that you should be collaborating and working together. There’s a lot more power in working together than alone in silos,” sad Hadfield.

Moving forward, the trailer will be made available to each of the center’s 26 partner post-secondary schools across the state. To utilize the trailer, the schools’ responsibilities include coordinating industry representatives to accompany the trailer, getting the high schools in their region on board, and arranging either a career fair on their own campus or to bring the trailer to a high school. The trailer is made available to center partners at no cost except to return the truck with a full tank of gas.
Brand new, the trailer is already booked for over 36 events over the course of the year. The success of the project so far is attributed to the collaboration of the schools, employers, and the center. Having representatives from the industry is really important toward the outreach goals of the center.

“If a post-secondary educator tells a secondary educator or a student about these careers, that’s nice and it works fine. But, when an industry person tells you, ‘By the way I’m hiring and right now I have people who work for me and this is what I pay them and this is what they do,’ the message has much more weight for a student, a parent or for a school superintendent,” said Hadfield.

About the Minnesota State Transportation Center of Excellence

The Minnesota State Transportation Center of Excellence is an innovative collaboration between Minnesota state colleges and universities and industry partners dedicated to educating and training workers for high-demand careers in the transportation industry.

The center was started in January of 2013 in response feedback from industry “listening sessions” held in 2012. Through the development of partnerships, the center supports workforce alignment in order to meet the current and future needs of the state’s transportation industry, not only in terms of the number of graduates but also in terms of the location of programs and the rate of degree attainment. The center coordinates the alignment of skills and knowledge needed by employers with what is taught in instructional programs while providing outreach to improve student awareness of employment markets.

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.

Michigan Construction Workforce Campaign Sets Foundation

One year ago, MichiganConstruction.com was launched to promote the construction industry. Started and funded by construction employers, Michigan’s premiere construction branding campaign has generated over 34-million media impressions delivered to television broadcast media markets and social media platforms throughout Michigan.

“Our focus is on Michigan’s construction industry,” says Dan DeGraaf, CEO of the Michigan Concrete Association who spearheads the MichiganConstruction campaign. He sees that the only way for the construction industry to compete for the best-and-brightest, is to unify in an effort to show people how cool it is to work in construction.

MichiganConstruction­­ produced three TV commercials that does just that.  The latest shows how kids can go from video gaming directly to construction.

Heather Smith, Marketing Director of the MichiganConstruction campaign says, “The trick is capturing interest generated from the ads and connecting those job seekers with our construction employers.”  This campaign drives and captures interest with cutting edge inbound digital marketing tools utilizing branded web-based and social media technology.

The MichiganConstruction campaign paved the way for the creation of the Michigan Construction Foundation.

Formed as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation, the Construction Foundation seeks to promote a positive image for Michigan’s construction industry to attract, recruit, educate, train and support new workers.

Brindley Byrd now serves as Executive Director of the Michigan Construction Foundation.  Working with their employer partners,  MichiganConstruction designed a framework to build an effective organization, serving as an industry intermediary, to integrate and align Michigan’s workforce development system.

“Michigan’s construction industry offers such opportunity for people to get good paying jobs,” Byrd says thinking about why he is excited to be part of this effort.  “MichiganConstruction easily connects job seekers with the many construction job, education and training options across the state.” Today’s construction industry needs workers with the right skills, qualifications and character to build a better Michigan.

For more information, contact Heather Smith at heather@MichiganConstruction.com.

Clearinghouse Puts Transportation Resources at Your Fingertips

The Midwest Transportation Workforce Center (MTWC) recently launched its new, searchable database of transportation workforce resources. With over 1300 entries, the search feature is accessed by clicking on “Clearinghouse” in the top menu of the MTWC website. Here, you will find listings of a variety of resources including pre-apprenticeship programs, internships, educational opportunities, professional development opportunities, scholarships, summer programs, and workforce development initiatives across the nine-state MTWC region, and beyond.

While the website, with its varied content devoted to growing the transportation pipeline, is a first stop for people seeking transportation workforce information, the indexing of resources in this new database will help users find what they are looking for more readily.

The Clearinghouse is a resource for educators looking for transportation curricula or programs, industry or workforce professionals looking for successful practices, or parents who are looking for summer programs for their budding transportation professional. So, if you are looking for Supply Chain programs in the region, or K-12 programs that target girls, we can help.

“Our vision for a Clearinghouse is that it will help us capture and define the collective work we are doing in this region. These transportation resources span the continuum from K-12 career awareness through professional development across all transportation occupations. With this database, we can determine where the gaps are and where we need to improve career pathways.  As our communities prepare for the future of the transportation workforce, this kind of information will form a fundamental baseline for these planning discussions. We will be ready,” said Maria Hart, MTWC Program Manager.

The MTWC website is a one-stop for all things related to the transportation talent pipeline in the Midwest. With MTWC, you can connect with your peers, share best practices, read about others’ successes, and help define and develop the Midwest strategy for transportation talent development.

Please click here to explore the most comprehensive compilation of the region’s transportation workforce development initiatives, programs, and resources.

Make Sure Your Resources Are Listed

The MTWC Clearinghouse is always growing and improving. This launch is only the beginning. Help us build this network. To get your resource listed, please complete the MTWC Clearinghouse submission form. Or, send information along with a website link by email to Maria Hart at maria.hart@wisc.edu.

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.

Engineering Community Involvement and Hands-On Activities Are Key Strengths of SLU’s Summer Transportation Institute

While many of the parents who sent their high schoolers to Saint Louis University’s Summer Transportation Institute in July may like to see the camp extended to two weeks, this program will continue to provide a one-week experience, packed with daily hands-on activities, to two different groups of students again in 2017.

“We would love to offer the camp as two-week sessions, but, with our current resources, these two, one-week sessions are the only way to serve the maximum number of students,” said camp director, Jalil Kianfar, PhD, Assistant Professor of Civil Engineering at Parks College of Engineering, Aviation, and Technology. Having successfully completed the second year of this program at SLU, Kianfar looks forward to building on the tradition again next year by leveraging what makes the program strong. Read more

Taking the Lead in Supply Chain Talent, Tri-State Region Creates Partnerships to Build Capability

Painting the picture of what supply chain management encompasses and then creating a vision of a career in this field in the minds of young people is part of what is making the career pathway initiative, Supply Chain OKI, successful. Another key contributor to the initiative’s success comes from the numerous collaborative partnerships created across the region. Supply Chain OKI is building programs that develop skilled supply chain professionals and help retain that talent within the industry. Led by Partners for a Competitive Workforce, the initiative represents adjacent areas of Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana, a tri-state region from which the initiative gets the “OKI” in its name. Read more

UW–Superior Transportation Day for Girls Scouts Inspires Career Interest

Career awareness efforts are most effective when they inspire interest among young people. An event hosted by the Transportation and Logistics Management Research Center at the University of Wisconsin–Superior is designed to do just that. By partnering with a local council of the Girl Scouts, Dr. Richard Stewart, the center’s director, has developed a day-long event that brings elementary and middle-school-aged girls to the UW–Superior campus to explore careers in transportation.

The program was developed after Stewart learned about the “Trucks are for Girls” Fun Patch created by the Women in Trucking Association with Girl Scouts in the Chicago area. Stewart worked to develop the UW–Superior program with Cassie Roemhildt, a research associate who is also the mom of two girl scouts. They built on knowledge shared by Women in Trucking and pulled-in support from industry sponsors as well as from the National Center for Freight & Infrastructure Research & Education (CFIRE).

“It’s interesting to see that, at age twelve, many girls are already thinking about their careers,” said Roemhildt. “This event shows girls the ‘hidden empire’ of transportation.” Read more

Grailing Jones

Industry Leader Grailing Jones Helps Raise Awareness of Transportation Career Possibilities

Instead of sitting at his desk and emailing potential collaborators, Grailing Jones, Schneider Employment Network Development Director, has traveled around the country to personally meet with interested parties who have aims similar to his. Through these interpersonal interactions, he has reached a diverse array of groups that are involved in recruiting a new wave of workers for the transportation industry.

Jones has been doing all of this in an attempt to address hurdles to gaining new employees in the transportation industry. According to Jones, the biggest problem facing the transportation industry today is the lack of awareness about the positives for those pursuing a career in the field.

“The greatest barrier, to me, is the awareness of possibilities in the industry, and it’s shocking, but people don’t know about the pay rates in the industry either,” Jones said. Read more

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