MTWC hosted this webinar on March 9, 2017. What follows is the transcript of that webinar. The full webinar recording may also be viewed at the link below. Additionally, the slides are available for download.
- Webinar Recording
- Teresa Adams’ Presentation Slides
- Rebecca Lake’s Presentation Slides
- Christopher Cox’s Presentation Slides
- Rasmus Nielsen’s Presentation Slides
ADAMS: Good Afternoon. My name is Teresa Adams. I’m director of the Midwest Transportation Workforce Center and the University of Wisconsin Madison. I welcome you to our seminar, “Industry and Colleges: Partnerships for Successful Registered Apprenticeship Programs” This webinar is part three of our 3-part series designed to help you kickstart the creation of apprenticeship programs in the transportation sector.
ADAMS: Before we begin, a few housekeeping items. First remember to put your phone on mute, not on hold. We’re asking you to do this so others don’t hear your background noises. Also, you can type questions at any time in the chat area. These will be visible to everyone. We’ll try to answer as many questions as possible during our Q&A discussion time. And finally, you can download today’s slides and other materials on registered apprenticeships in the file share area. There are also instructions for joining our community of practice.
ADAMS: For those who are not familiar with the MTWC, we are one of five centers funded by the Federal Highway Administration. The function of the centers is to facilitate innovation and strategic partnerships in transportation workforce development. The five centers work together as the National Network for Transportation Workforce development.
ADAMS: The Midwest Transportation Workforce Center at the UW-Madison has partnered with Harper College to develop this webinar series. Harper College is a recognized pioneer in developing best practices for community colleges as a sponsor of registered apprenticeships. In today’s webinar you will hear from Dr. Rebecca Lake who has already developed four registered apprenticeships at Harper College and is working on a few more. She’ll focus on all the partners a community college will need to have in place to create a pipeline for apprenticeship programs. She has brought two of her industry partners, in the insurance and logistics fields. We hope their insights will translate well into the transporation industry.
ADAMS: This is again webinar 3 in a series of three. Webinar 1 was an introduction to registered apprenticeship. We exposed the benefits and opportunities for apprenticeship programs and identified experts, resources, and community of practice for apprenticeship programs in the transportation sector. In webinar 2 we laid out the nuts and bolts of what it takes for a community college to successfully establish an apprenticeship program. Now in webinar 3 we’ll learn more about industry and best practices for partnering with industry.
ADAMS: Our webinar time is one hour. In today’s webinar you’ll hear from Dr. Rebecca Lake. She’ll focus on the partners that a community college needs to have in place. Next we’ll hear from industry partners their apprentices. Christopher Cox will talk about working with Harper College to set up an apprenticeship in insurance. Rasmus Nielsen will talk about apprenticeships in logistics. We hope their insights will translate well into the transportation community. You can type your questions in the chat area at any time and we’ll have time to dive deeper during the Q&A period.
ADAMS: So the first speaker, Dr. Rebecca Lake, is the Dean of Workforce and Economic Development at Harper College. Dr. Lake is also an ApprenticeshipUSA leader. She has held academic positions such as faculty, assistant dean and academic vice-president. Currently at Harper she oversees the Harper Job Placement resource center, the small business development center and the office of apprenticeship. Without further delay, it’s my pleasure to welcome Rebecca Lake.
LAKE: Thank you and hello everybody. This is a pleasure for us and for me to bring two people with me so you can hear how and in what ways partners can help registered apprenticeships that are growing in community colleges and helpt hem grow even more. Just to remind you we’re going to focus only on partnerships. Apprenticeship programs, remember are a win-win-win endeavor. The students find that they have jobs. They have 2 or 3 years experience. When they are done they have an AAS degree, they also might have credentials. They also end with a national credential from the Office of Apprenticeship at the Department of Labor. And don’t forget they graduate with zero debt. For employers, they get those loyal employees that they can grow and move up in their company. Their retirees are growing and they can pass on all that information on to our registered apprentices before they leave. It’s good for colleges. Not only does it strengthen those working relationships you have with employers in your community but it also improves retention and completion rates.
LAKE: This is just an easy slide for you to see that the number of registered apprenticeships are growing in the united states. See the source underneath there, please go out and get any data. I found this and I thought it was very useful. We have a little over 505,000 but we want to get that up to 700,000. I think that’s doable particularly with community colleges involved and other educational entities and then your partners.
LAKE: What are the things that actually hit you as you’re out there trying to do this? You can’t do this by yourself. You can’t do it on your own. You need this wide circle of partners. To spread the word, about what is apprenticeship, why do we need them, how can they help you? You need your circle of partners. We call this the concept of partner marketing. It’s not new. It’s like if you shared this information with others about why. Everybody gets to know why you made that decision. You’ll hear from people later on, Chris and Rasmus, as to how they’re looking at registered apprenticeship.
LAKE: Overlapping the work of your partners. Because we know we can’t do it by ourselves, to increase the exposure about the benefits of your programs and increase your return on investment. You know a lot of community colleges across the country, most of us are down a few percentage. How do we make sure that we spread the word wisely? You can engage your variety of partners and it leads to an increase in the number of employers hiring apprentices and also an increase in the number of apprentices enrolled in your programs.
LAKE: Potential apprentices. Who might those be and how can we get them? These people talk to each other. This is a partnership that you gain. Parents and guardians of high school graduates, career changers, general college students. We do email blasts to students who have come and taken first courses within a program or discipline. To say we have a registered apprenticeship program, do you want to know more about that? We have open Tuesday evening information sessions that anybody can drop into. Military and veterans are coming back and their families as well as ex-offenders. These are all people who can benefit by being an apprentice but also can share the information about what it is and what it takes to be an apprentice.
LAKE: Here are other educational entitites that also have their own registered apprenticeship programs. But in any case can use community colleges and those universities like Wisconsin that have 2-year and technical colleges built in. You can always provide that related training instruction. To meet with high schools because you have to have those graduates. Some high schools are doing pre-apprenticeship. There aren’t very many of those across the country. There’s a highschool in Ohio and one in South Carolina that I know of that are doing great work in preapprenticeship programs. These can only be done if they lead into a registered apprenticeship program. Other vocations/educational entities that might be in your community include employers who might have their own registered apprenticeship programs. Like, you’ll hear from Chris Cox, Zurich has their own registered apprenticeship program. We have the same one, and they have one too, and we can always do the related training instruction. Unions, with their own related programs. But community colleges/technical institutions can always do the related training instruction.
LAKE: And then there’s the workplace. I put this in because we’re really trying to get out there and make sure we understand what is in the community so we might be able to dovetail on what they are doing. One of the things I’m trying to do is work with our WIOA. For us, in this area, it’s the Cook County Workforce Partnerships, that’s what we’ve built. In our district, it’s called the Worknet Center. I go over and we talk. We’re going to try a pilot this fall about how to do registered apprentices and use those registered apprenticeship funds that are are in the WIOA new regulations, and work out all those barriers there might be to doing that for our industrial maintenance mechanic. We’ll try this as a pilot so then we’ll know. There are funds in the WIOAs, it’s mentioned 47 times in the new rules and regulations. We’re trying to work through that and I’ll be glad to share that once we go through that and know all the issues and how to fix them. Community-based organization often have even a grant. Those might be a community center, a housing center. I was looking at Boston’s, they have the Boston Bar Foundation, they have a neighborhood house, they have the urban league. Others have funds that are able to be used for registered apprenticeship programs. Your cities and towns and villages they have economic development centers. They will all know who is coming into the area who might use it. New businesses or business who want to grow might use registered apprenticeships. So there’s a way to get to them. Associations like the Rotary club. I’m going to go speak at a Human Resources association meeting next month. So that might be something for you to get in front of so HR people know about registered apprenticeship programs. Foundations, Lumina, Joyce, Gates, those kind of things. And again, I put pre-apprenticeship programs. We’re trying to grow that youth pipeline in many areas and pre-apprenticeships are very valuable.
LAKE: This is where we’re at. So just to wrap up. You can’t do it all by yourself. Make sure you use your partners. There are lots of partners out there. Partners just grow exponentially once they get into your network. I want to make sure I turn this over to partners I’m working with and I’ve brought along with me to hear what they have to say. They can share their information about how they grow or how they work with us. It’s my pleasure to turn it back to Teresa who will go ahead and turn it over to the partners I brought along.
ADAMS: Our next speaker is Christopher Cox from Zurich North America headquartered in Schaumburg, Illinois. Mr. Cox has been in the field of Human Resources for over 20 years. His expertise is in learning and development, talent management, and talent acquisition. His leadership of new employee entry, induction, and accelerated domestic and international training. These programs have earned him recognition in various publications such as the Wall Street Journal and business first. The entry-level induction program also earned Christopher the talent acquisition brandon hall award in 2015. So, Christopher, thank you for joining us today, I’m handing the microphone to you.
COX: Thank you very much. For Zurich, being a large organization, it might seem easy for us to adopt the idea of apprenticeship. The good news for Zurich was that we’re based out of Switzerland. If you’re a company where the facts and figures that are most important to the business that add up are that unemployment rates for Europe are much lower for those who don’t go directly from high school to college. So, the workforce there that adopt something of social engineering, which I think is a great point for the business to understand, where you’re able to organically grow business through an apprenticeship program or actually grow employees for the business through a program of apprenticeship and further develop through a 2-year community college what will be a future of having employees who are much more loyal, to continue with their education.
COX: Zurich and I guess the optimal word here is partnership. With Harper and Rebecca and team it makes it much easier for business. The objective of my presentation is to give you the business view of the endeavor and why it’s important and how to go about it. The partnership like we had with the community college made it very easy. They helped us with all of the filings. They helped us meet with the department of labor. Where corporate meets education, it starts out a little interesting but becomes a great partnership where you do the give and take to ensure you’re both successful and understand the objectives. The outcomes are pretty fantastic. I went to a few of the…Across party lines in our country right now, the apprenticeship program there is something of an appetite for everyone. This allows businesses to grow a pipeline in the US that has been very limited in the past especially with the corporate world. It’s something that both corporate and non-corporate share in terms of turnover and finding great employees and finding skilled employees for all types of businesses. This is a great bullet point to bring forth as you talk to your community colleges and think about with the business of how this might be effective for them. Within Zurich we’ve committed to 100 apprentices over a five-year period. With any and all businesses, you have to start out with an end goal in mind and stick to it. Not only that it’s great for our workforce in the US which is great for business, but it’s also great for corporation as a whole when it comes to loyalty and lack of turnover.
COX: From the business stand point it’s a different strategy. I can tell you that, with myself being in talent acquisition for a bit of time and working with a lot of new joiner programs, this is strange for me. It might be strange for a lot of businesses to think about recruiting directly from high school. As it turned out, it wasn’t so strange to put together the strategy over a five year period with such great partnership from the community college. It made it easy to leverage the resources that were already in place at the community college. For a business to think about oh I have to come up with a new strategy I’ve got to come up with a new way to market and market this program to bring in the talent and how does that work with high school students we haven’t done that in the past. All of those things were very easy with Harper College. Just a quick anecdotal story. I get involved very much myself in all of the recruitment programs. One that comes to mind is one of our program participants, Arturo, an individual that I spoke with and I can tell you each person who came into our apprenticeship program had a great story even those that didn’t quite make it because we didn’t have enough space had great stories. Arturo was working at one of the box stores. He was a mechanic and he told me how he worked with his father on cars and he worked in the big box store as a mechanic. He hated cars. He didn’t like his job. But when he came out of high school, he had a family and he was supporting his family and he was actually attending the local community college and he was doing it at a very limited rate because that’s all he could afford. This type of program afforded him the opportunity to, a high school student with great grades, great ambition, to come into a corporation with no experience and get past the applicant tracking system that always kicks people out who don’t have some type of degree to come in with no a degree and work in an industry, grow his skills and also supply our corporation with someone who will be a future great employees in terms of being a claims person or an underwriter.
COX: My goal is to give all of you a flavor for what does a business have to take on. What gets planned gets done. What gets planned well gets done very well. In partnership with your local community college. This is a bit of an outline of some of the things that it takes to think about. They aren’t that difficult to create considering most businesses have some of the things in place already in terms of training. Expand it a bit to think about, who with a blank slate, we could turn into who we want them to be in the future. Provide them with a great education. Again the education is not only the knowledge but also the loyalty piece. All of these pieces and parts are something you can create in advance and have conversations with the business in terms of gaining your own apprenticeship program.
COX: The accountability piece. As we approached it. How we thought about ensuring we were ready for an apprenticeship program. We wanted to be sure to define what were the responsibilities. Depending on the size of the organization. Sometimes it’s within the business that we have the training programs. Thinking about what we would put in place for someone who has never been in the business before. When you think about social engineering it’s not all about the training and the actual work but you’re working with someone who’s already trained. The community college you are going to get the education. When you come to Zurich or a local business you’re working with adults who are going to teach you not look at your phone and text while you’re reporting to your manager and having discussions about what you should be doing in your job. This is all part of the beauty and elegance of an apprenticeship program.
COX: In summary. We designed our program to make sure that we had all of the hours and we had all of the I’s and T’s dotted. Those came very easily with our partnership with the community college. They led while we led in partnership. We got to great understanding with the department of labor to make sure we were in lock step to make sure that we achieved all of the regulations and requirements but at the same time we were able to build in how the curriculum along with the community college matched up with what we put in place to ensure when an apprentice is doing their job within Zurich they are also doing a bit that lines up with the courses. I don’t think it was unreasonable that Harper Community College also asked us about some of the curriculum we had that we could share maybe. Maybe some of our case studies. They were very helpful to ensure that the courses that line up with that 2-year business degree also had an insurance flank to them. To make sure it was relevant to the apprentices to understand that I’m working today and when I go to school I can apply what I am learning and bring that back what I’m learning back to the program or back to Zurich. So far so good, we’re in our second class and getting ready to get into a third class. The fourth block you’ll see that’s about the time frame it took us to put everything together. From a business standpoint or for all of you maybe it gives you an overview of what it takes to put this together. It takes a village and that includes that strong partnership with the community college. Their talent acquisition area, their resources, their expertise make it pro business. That’s a great selling point for the business and the community college alike.
ADAMS: Thank you Chris. Our next speaker is Rasmus Nielsen. Mr. Nielsen started his career in freight forwarding in Denmark in 1998 as an apprentice in logistics. So after his apprenticeship he moved to the U.S. His career path is as follows. First an apprentice trainee then export agent then operations manager to branch manager and then finally to director of sales for leading operations and sales teams across multiple branches. His core talent and passion though are in areas of coaching and developing sales executives operations personnel for future leaders. So, in October of 201 Rasmus started a new career as a partner in a talent management company that focuses on the logistics industry. His company works with Harper College in an outreach role to help promote the apprenticeship program. Without delay welcome Rasmus, the microphone is yours.
NIELSEN: Thank you very much. First I just want to say that I am personally a product of an apprenticeship program. That’s one of many reasons why I am extra passionate about this program. I am going to be focusing today on the logistics industry and talking about how we, here at Harper have been creating demand and selling this concept in an outreach manner. Logistics today is actually 18% of the world’s gross national product. A very fast growing industry. Whether you are working for a logistics company or a transportation company everything today is shipped. It’s a great industry to get into. On top of that it’s constantly evolving with regulations and new transportation modes. The challenge has been that working in a logistics company does not always require a 4-year degree. But a high school degree is not enough. If you’re looking at someone in customer service with a few years experience is maybe make between $40-50 thousand a year. While someone with a 4-year degree wants to start out at $60 thousand right out of college. That creates a gap and has always been part of the challenge. I have been a hiring manager. I have run a branch and run sales teams where I have been hiring people. I’ve hired people out of high school. I’ve hired out of a community colleges. I’ve also hired people out of 4-year programs. That’s one of the reasons why I think this logistics apprenticeship program is going to be very very successful.
NIELSEN: Before we can talk about how we creat demand I want to go over a few of the points of what the value of the program is. Dr. Lake also talked about this. It is a win-win-win model, like Dr. Lake said. If you look at it from the apprentice way. They will get an education at the same time they’re getting real work experience. They no longer have to work at the Sunglass Hut while they are going to school and taking on student loans. The apprentice also will be very loyal in the employer for investing in them. They won’t have any debts or anything. They will also be loyal to the company’s culture and mission. Like Chris talked about, the class they have right now at Zurich, those people are going to be very grateful to the company. For the corporation, they will get talent that is appreciative. Everybody talks about the millleniels and how demanding they can be. I see a lot of times when college graduates have graduated from Ohio State and they come out and they have a little bit of a chip on their shoulder because they just spent $150,000 getting their degree and they want to make some money but they don’t have any work experience. Furthermore the corporation can train talent on their way of doing business and culture. And they can also lock them in for a set period of time that will reduce the turnover.
NIELSEN: Creating the demand and getting people interested in this is number one. Understanding and explaining the value to potential corporations. Is also having corporations understanding the importance of a talent ecosystem. Your bench strength. It’s also important to have ambassadors. Personally, when I started working with Harper College in an outreach manner, I started out by approaching European managers in the Chicago area like myself who had been through this apprenticeship program in Denmark. That’s a good way to start because they understand it. They’ve lived it. They have breathed it and they see the value immediately. If you can get some of those on board in your local markets then they can work as ambassadors and referrals going forward to American companies who maybe are not as familiar with that.
NIELSEN: How we’re actually selling it is through partnerships like myself. Find somebody in your local market who has a network, has the initial experience, and can actually go out and sell it. It’s also very beneficial if you can get into industry events and tradeshows. Do a presentation about your program. Then I would also say, and I’m not just saying this because I have a talent management company, but linking up with employment agencies and talent acquisition companies who are interested in helping getting this off the ground. Also marketing campaigns to the specific industry via social media. Those are some of the tools that we have used here to get companies on board. These have been working. We have had very good response and a lot of companies that are interested in this model.
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
ADAMS: Thank you Rsmus for sharing your expertise with us today. Now, let’s get all of our speakers around the microphone for a question and answer discussion. I’ll read the question with an open invitation to any speaker to respond.
ADAMS: So, the first question is: How can we find that specific individual within a company who will be the internal champion for moving an apprenticeship forward?
NIELSEN: I can take that. I can talk a little bit about who I’ve approached. The key is to try to find the person who has the pain points. So, if you are talking in a freight forwarding manner, I would go to the branch manager who is the hiring manager. If the company has a regional headquarters there, and they have a district head of HR, you could also go through them. But look for someone who has the authority to make the hires and are feeling the pains of having a higher turnover.
ADAMS: Anyone else? So here’s one: Is there a cost to developing an apprenticeship program?
LAKE: This is Rebecca I’ll talk from this end ad then Chris of Rasmus can talk from the other end. As community colleges, you can become the program sponsor or you can just do the related training instruction. Either way, there may be some slight cost only because you have to enhance your curriculum or something like that. Other than that, we really built it on the curriculum we had. So, for building curriculum or purchasing equipment, that wasn’t something we had to do. Now, there is a cost about going out and doing some marketing in the community. Of course, we have interested coaches that keep track and share that with the company. So not too much on our side. But we are trying to establish it so it will be sustainable.
COX: That’s right. This is Chris. I see all costs for my budget within talent acquisition. I can tell you this is a very low cost endeavor. This is probably a great selling point back to the business. The community college really bears the cost in terms of recruitment, or much of the cost. We still have our process, we still have individuals that do this in recruitment and so on. What I mean by that is, that through her placement office, through her talent acquisition area, this is a normal thing that happens in community colleges. They are already out there recruiting those high school students to come to the community college. That is the great talent pool we’re looking for. It has worked very well with Zurich and Harper. I work with the individuals there. I don’t need to go out and go to a lot of high schools because that’s already happened. I enjoy doing that and making the presentation and I help where I can with those things. But it’s not necessary so the company doesn’t lose money on me being away or the recruiters being away like we do with our training programs with 4-year universities. That’s a very costly endeavor. At the same time the benefit to both and the return on investment and that’s what everyone wants to know. It costs a lot of money to hire an individual. It costs lot in turnover to lose those individuals. If these individuals are growing organically, you can get the business to buy in and understand this is part of a longer term strategy. We expect the apprentices. This is not why Zurich got into this, Zurich was also very social conscience about it. At the same time, you tie them from a talent pipeline standpoint and that’s where it makes the most dollars and sense. It’s the long ball game. These are employees you don’t have to pay a recruitment firm for. If you structure it, maybe a four-year degree is a requirement. At our company, we’ve rewritten a lot of our job descriptions to show if you’re an apprentice for 2 years at the bottom of the job description plus this type of experience, you’re qualified for things like the training program or other jobs. Long-term thinking is the return on investment because the recruitment costs for those skilled employees at the 2-year or 3-year mark that the apprenticeship achieves, that’s where if you think about the curve when someone becomes productive versus the cost to hire them and the cost to hire someone experienced. The apprentice produces further down but the cost to hire them is almost zero because you’ve already spent your cost.
ADAMS: Here’s another question: What is the most effective strategy for establishing a new program with employers that run apprenticeship programs but do not register them with the department of labor?
LAKE: I’m actually not quite sure what the question is. Any company can say I have an apprentice. I can just call you an apprentice. I might just say go take some courses and I’ll reimburse you when you’re done. I can call you anything. We’re really looking at registered apprenticeship programs. For us, and the department of labor office of apprenticeship, are looking at apprentices to have credit bearing they see this and so do we as a career. This is a career for you as you move up through the company. All of our stuff with AAS degrees that transfer into 4-year institutions. If any company wants to send us any students they can just register for courses and go. If you want to go through us, we do all the paperwork and everything. So, we do get the one-offs, so Bob’s Tool and Dye can send one, another company can send one, etc. etc. I just put them all together and put them in a class. Other people may join them, particularly those that use lab time and is a skills based class. But for us that’s a registered apprenticeship program.
ADAMS: Here’s one: How open were the instructors at Harper College to tailoring curricula to meet the needs at Zurich?
LAKE: Well, I can jump in there. They were more open than I thought they would be. Particularly those that are teaching Marketing. Those kind of classes that are in the business administration. Our gen eds we drop one into every semester. I did talk to every faculty before they started in the semester to try to let them understand what is registered appren’876543 c ticeship. And try to ask them to contextualize assignments. And, as Chris said, we got some case studies from them and shared them with wherever they would go, Marketing or whatever class. What we also have is a program coordinator who really likes apprenticeships and she is really on board and she does even meet with the faculty and tries to put them so that their assignments cross courses because they come to take courses Tuesday and Thursday. Monday, Wednesday, and Friday they go to Zurich. Faculty were more likely to take suggestions of assignments than I had anticipated. As with everything, some faculty will do that more than others. You just have to find a faculty that will do that with you. You can’t dictate as we all know. But we have suggestions.
ADAMS: Here’s another one I believe for you Rebecca: Are the apprenticeships that your community college is the sponsor. Do they involve other employers as well or is it really just for one?
LAKE: No, no. For the advanced manufacturing in particular at the moment. They are all multiple companies. They only send one guy. Zurich sent a large amount. They sent 24 to start with, they are now going to send 12 per semester. Rasmus has a couple of companies that are going to send 2 apprentices at a time for supply chain, for example. I could just take one and put them all together. This is what I do for the associates degree for business administration, that is what the general insurance is with, is if we haven’t filled all the seats for all the courses, then I use it for an open enrollment and so another 12 people could come come in there and take the marketing course or the English 101 course. The four courses that I do reserve for just general insurance guys are the four emphasis insurance courses. The supply chain would be the exact same. If not all 24 seats are taken by 24 companies or 2 companies that send us 12 each, those are open enrollment.
ADAMS: Here’s another one regarding that: Do the apprentices apply to Harper to the program and then get placed at the employer or do the employers hire the employee and then send them to Harper.
COX: Great question. Again, I know it sounds like a broken record with the partnership. Rebecca and I and her team worked this out and I think that’s again part of how you establish that relationship. We found what we didn’t know. We don’t generally recruit high school students and haven’t. Understanding the whole idea of community college and the finer points of that and the logistics and where you can and can’t have individuals. This was a little bit of a challenge. What we found was, working together on the website creation, the web pages that made sense about Zurich’s information and Harper’s combined and the process flow. First, for an apprentice to be accepted at Zurich, they have to be college ready, which means they have to pass the English comp and pass the college math requirement. If they didn’t have it with ACT…Learned a lot about that, I didn’t know that there was a sell date for ACT. If they didn’t have score for those particular areas or they didn’t have it through prior college accreditation, or high school, that met Harper’s standards, then they had to pass that through taking the test. If they didn’t pass that they didn’t move on to be able to apply at Zurich. We’re a government contractor subcontractor so we’re under a lot more stringent regulations than most and this met met the standards. Make sure you get fully enrolled at Harper are college ready and pass the standards then you are ready to apply at Zurich then we did our normal approach to talent acquisition. Apply, phone, panel interviews, background checks, all of those things. Before someone got to us they’re perfectly ready. What’s nice about that is that you know the apprentices you are receiving are pretty competent when they come in the door having the English comp pass and math pass. It’s almost as assessment. From a business stand point we’re not really paying for and assessment costs can be quite expensive. How’d I do Rebecca?
LAKE: Good. Right on the money.
ADAMS: Here’s another one for you, Chris. A little more detail on what’s going on there at Zurich: Without giving the absolutes, what are the relative wage level increments from year one and year two? How are you compensating the apprenticeships and how do their wages increase?
COX: On the first part of the question, kind of ballpark. I’ll give you the calculation. We took a look at the normal position that the apprentice would be filling. They have to be working toward a real job. That’s the nature of apprenticeship. You have to demonstrate that to the Department of Labor. We took a look at what that job would be when they ended their 2-year apprenticeship. We put the wage from an hourly rate standpoint based on what would be their rate plus what we’re supplying to them in terms of their tuition at Harper. When you combine those two together, it becomes very similar to what we would be paying that person at the end of two years. When they come off program in two years. Then each year at Zurich they are treated as a normal employee. They are given an appropriate salary increase to that. At the end of their second year, when they come off program, if they do well they receive that from a performance standpoint. In addition, they will receive a promotional increase that will be the standard of that position we designated would be. In other words, when they are not going to school at the end of the two years, they will be making a salary, which is a nice living wage coming off. The wage that they’re on is a good wage, don’t get me wrong, but for Chicago it’s not a great wage. But if you add in all of the fees and the tuition costs that they are receiving and no debt coming out, it’s a great proposition. When they’re coming off at the end of two years they’ve been treated normally as an employee with their annual increase. At the same time they get a promotional increase into the position they go into that puts them close to what they were getting in terms of compensation from having tuition plus and hourly rate.
LAKE: Rasmus do you have anything to add to that?
NIELSEN: Yes, the one thing that I think is important to know. It is the company, like Zurich, that is actually hiring the employee. You also see some of the people asking do the apprentices work full time. Yes, they do work full time when they don’t go to school. One of the things that’s important to know as Chris also said, they are not getting paid fair market wage but they are getting paid more than minimum wage and not getting any school debt. Once they are done with their two years, usually it will depend on what department they worked with. They will be brought up to that and get a position that maybe, in my industry, would be an export agent or an import agent and they will get a sizeable wage increase.
ADAMS: The next question is also directed to Rasmus. This question is: With regard to some of the marketing. I’m going to combine two questions. The first one is: What are some of the most compelling messages that have to be shared with employers to get them on board with apprenticeships? The other part of this is: How much of your budget do you allocate to marketing for the apprenticeship program?
NIELSEN: I’ll start with the first part. What are some of the key messages to get across? From our point of view it’s a win-win. But just like any sale, you have to uncover a need for the client. Most in the logistics industry we do know there’s a 16% turnover rate. However, some of the companies that I’ve worked for have up to 30%. It is definitely working with some people who have inside knowledge of those industries who can go in and speak to those industries and explain how you’re going to increase your bench strength. You’re going to get people you don’t have to train yourself, they are going to go to school. It’s a good medium between having a high school graduate and someone with a 4-year degree. It’s kind of in between so when you’re talking about customer service people having that associates degree as opposed to that 4-year degree, it’s a good fit because you’re not going to get that whole demanding thing, I want $60,000. If you are aware of the statistic in today’s world, 5% of the workforce is retiring every year. How are companies planning for that? How are you going to transfer that knowledge. Also by having an apprentice who is going to school and learning about what’s going on in the industry today, they might even bring more knowledge to your company of what’s happening in your industry that potentially you were not aware of.
ADAMS: Thank you. Rebecca did you want to say anything?
LAKE: So, I have a grant. I am very lucky that way. I have four, part-time guys and they’re just part-time and they’re retired guys. They go out into the community and talk to companies about registered apprentices. When I put on the slides about using your partners wisely, these are the guys those partners within your community like a business association, Cook County workforce partnerships, all of our villages. They all can help you spread the word or let you come and speak at their conferences. We have breakfasts for companies. We’re going to have some breakfasts for the economic development people because those are the guys that know who’s moving in and who’s growing and those kinds of things. Use all your partnerships. If your high schools have internships. They’re interning with some company somewhere. So, if you can have a relationship with your high school, which we all try to do as community colleges. Ask them if you can tag along or find out which of their companies are using interns. It would be nice to turn those into Registered Apprenticeship programs. Interns let them go to a company and say I like working with my hands. These make fine medical equipment and I really like that, it’s small precision and I like to do that. The company sees the student and the student gets to find out do they really like that. I am lucky that way. We all have advisory committees. So, you might use that. If you don’t have any extra funds, there is still someone going out to the Rotary club or whatever. So, see if there is some way to attach Registered Apprentices with whoever is going out into your community.
ADAMS: I think we have time for just one more question. This one is: At the beginning stages of the apprenticeship program or in some of the short term, what were some of the limitations or short-term obstacles that you had? The questioner is really just wondering what we should be aware of in the initial stages of the program.
LAKE: For us at the college, it truly is changing of the culture of the company. What Rasmus said about the pain points. Companies know when they’re having a problem filling those skills gaps. That’s who you need to talk to. What company is really having a problem. Who is growing but they can’t fill their quotas for their projects because they don’t have enough people on board to train them or they have guys retiring. It’s that culture because American companies have really not paid a salary and paid for somebody to go to school. They haven’t quite done that. If you’re in the building trades or UAW, you’ve done it. If not, you haven’t quite. We have a champion inside the college, that’s me. We know what we can about it. So, I didn’t have any problem on this side. It’s truly talking to the companies. You must be out there, and out there, and out there, and out there again.
ADAMS: Thank you. Chris or Rasmus, do you want to offer anything? The other part of that question was what was the most important lesson you learned in building an apprenticeship program in the U.S.?
COX: Just to expand on what Rebecca I thought was a meaningful answer. Just as an example, and hopefully this hits home. I was approached, probably through Rebecca, by a local mega car dealership here in the Chicagoland area in Schaumburg. They approached me to come and give them some advice about… Car dealerships have a really a tough time not only with mechanics and sales people and what would the benefit, would this make sense. Just like us, the insurance industry, we went into this with commercial insurance saying we don’t mind sharing. We worked with our competitors and shared all of the materials we developed and our approach and curriculum. The idea is that the department of labor certificate is really important and they can go anywhere. At the same time if you can get industry together, they have the same problems, you get bigger cohorts, bigger classes. We’re not really in it to steal from one another. Another big learner. It took me a while to get my head around it. I do believe there’s a market for those individuals who maybe have completed their four-year degree and are underemployed and an apprenticeship could help with that portion of our society that is underemployed. Going back to get a 2-year is something that is not something that is normally thought of but that is a good lesson that’s very important. If I come out of school with a psychology degree and then I underpin it with a 2-year business degree, that’s important. I wouldn’t limit my thoughts to only those who are fresh from high school. I think there’s a market for those who come back to community college who have completed a four-year degree. I think that was a good solid learner. Then again think about your curriculum and make sure that as an organization your think about all the ups and downs of those who maybe just a fresh slate, they don’t have any social understanding of how a company works or how a business works or what they should be doing when they get on the job. That’s another big lesson to make sure that you’re very well versed in what those individuals are and a whole host of different problems that come with them versus those who are more tenured in the workforce.
ADAMS: Thank you Rebecca, Chris and Rasmus. This has been a great webinar and discussion but we are out of time and need to wrap up. We’re posting the recording and transcripts for all three of the webinars in this series to our MTWC Google Community of Practice. The Community of Practice is open to anyone. We’ve also posted a recent report from the Department of Commerce on the benefits and costs of the program. This report does a great job of explaining the business return on investment. On this slide, which you can download, we’ve included a list of other apprenticeship resources that are available online. On this slide, we have a list of apprenticeship experts. This list includes all the speakers from our webinar series and a few others that can possibly answer some more specific questions in heavy construction and public transportation. So, finally, thank you all for participating in our webinar series. We want to stay connected with you, please reach out to me or to Maria Hart if there is anything the Midwest Transportation Workforce Center can do to help. Thank you. Good bye.