Bright and ambitious young people don't need Donald Trump for a great apprenticeship. Your company or industry group can climb into the act, as well.
What's new? Unions and manufacturing associations have long relied on government-backed, registered apprenticeship programs to groom future workers and retain trained professionals. Now, more employers of all sizes and stripes are using those formalized training approaches, especially employers in the skilled trades where finding qualified labor is a challenge in any economy.
Registered apprenticeships are simply formalized career training programs that offer on-the-job training to people in highly skilled fields. Apprenticeships can last from one to six years, depending on the occupation. The U.S. Labor Department tracks the programs and offers consulting help.
The goal of apprenticeships: attract job candidates, cut turnover and training costs, boost productivity and increase competitiveness.
Employers, business groups or unions essentially design and sponsor the programs under a set of apprenticeship
standards, which include an on-the-job training outline, related instruction and wage commitments. Those standards are then registered with the Labor Department's Office of Apprenticeship Training, Employer and Labor Services (OATELS) or a state apprenticeship council. OATELS says apprenticeship programs are offered in every state and in 850 occupations.
Key point: Don't believe two long-standing myths associated with apprenticeships: 1.) The government dictates employers' training standards. (It plays a support role.) 2.) Only large companies can set up programs. (Size doesn't matter.)
Example: The Community Playhouse in Omaha successfully turned to apprenticeships as a way to grow technical talent in the theater industry when it experienced trouble finding qualified technicians for sound, lighting and construction.
• The DOL's main apprenticeship site, www.doleta.gov/atels_bat
• The top 25 types of jobs for apprenticeships, www.doleta.gov/atels_bat/top-25-occupations.cfm
• Find your state's apprenticeship agency, www.nastad.net/index.cfm?page=3