4 Key Strategies for Sustainable Apprenticeship Expansion | Maher & Maher
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4 Key Strategies for Sustainable Apprenticeship Expansion

It’s National Apprenticeship Week – a celebration of business, labor, education, community, and government support for apprenticeship as a work-based learning strategy.  As part of that celebration, we’re reflecting on the important work states are doing to expand the number of businesses and industries that use apprenticeship as a talent development strategy, while increasing the numbers of youth and adults participating in apprenticeship programs.

Maher & Maher is working alongside states in this important work.  As we support states in their efforts, we’re seeing states focus on four key strategies that set them up for long-term, sustainable growth. 

Strengthening alignment between apprenticeship and education and workforce systems.  States are moving away from siloed apprenticeship systems, and aligning apprenticeship with higher education, career and technical education, and the workforce investment system.  Maryland, Kentucky, Nevada, and others have moved their state apprenticeship functions into workforce development agencies, and  North Carolina moved apprenticeship into the community college system.  Other states like Florida, Iowa, Idaho, and Michigan are engaging in extensive cross-training of workforce system partners and are building process maps to communicate clear roles and responsibilities.  As a result, businesses that find themselves facing recruitment, training, and retention challenges now learn about apprenticeship as a potential solution, no matter which partner they connect with.

Creating innovative partnerships to meet industry needs.  Gone are the days when businesses, labor-management partnerships, and apprenticeship agencies had to do it all themselves.  Today, states are building the capacity of intermediaries, training providers, support service providers, and others to play critical roles in the apprenticeship model.  Ohio is cultivating community colleges as apprenticeship sponsors.  In Missouri, a partnership between workforce, agricultural, and corrections partners created an agricultural apprenticeship program for incarcerated individuals.  And Idaho partnered with the Idaho Technology Council (ITC) to create new IT apprenticeships, including the state's first junior software programming apprenticeship.  Local Workforce Development Boards like West Michigan Works! are also serving as apprenticeship sponsors in the health care field.

Building awareness.  For many young people and career changers, traditional classroom training is still Plan A.  But states are changing that through robust outreach campaigns that bust myths and present apprenticeship as a high-quality earn-and-learn strategy for youth, adults, and businesses.  Colorado’s ApprenticeshipEvolution and New Hampshire’s LEARN NH efforts include things like dynamic new websites, videos, digital outreach campaigns, and radio, television, and print materials.  Maryland’s Apprenticeship Ambassador Program is an incentive program that raises awareness and encourages job seekers and businesses to engage in apprenticeship opportunities.

Increasing access.  Increased awareness only helps if youth, parents, and workers have a clear and easy way to go to find and apply for apprenticeship programs.  States are working to increase transparency and access through pre-apprenticeship programs, apprenticeship job banks, career counseling services, outreach to minority and veteran populations, and more.  Iowa’s Earn and Learn Iowa website and Michigan’s Talent Connect website enable future apprentices to search for jobs, and both states are working closely with local workforce boards to build on-ramps to apprenticeship through American Job Centers.

Are you working on these strategies?  We want to hear from you.  Let us know what’s working, and where you’re running into challenges. We’d love to help!

Maher & Maher, an IMPAQ Company, is a specialized change management and talent development consulting firm based in New Jersey and Washington, D.C. The firm is U.S. Department of Labor’s national technical assistance provider supporting the Employment and Training Administration’s implementation of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) and a number of other priority initiatives of the administration that advance and promote the public workforce system. Maher is also currently involved in a number of sector strategy, regional planning, organizational strategic planning and training initiatives in multiple state and regional areas. For more information about our services, visit our website or call us at 1-888-90-Maher.

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