The Registered Apprenticeship Program was the subject of a presentation given at the California City Hall recently hosted by MRED.
At the two-hour meeting about 20 people, who represented the California and Tipton schools, the county's largest employers and other interested parties, the presenter was Suzanne Richards, apprenticeship training and development specialist with ApprenticeshipUSA.
Among the topics were current workforce challenges, benefits to employers and benefits for workers.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the Registered Apprenticeship system is from the Employment and Training Administration of the department, and has been utilized to meet the needs of America's skilled workforce for more than 75 years.
"It is a unique, flexible training system that combines job-related technical instruction with structured, on-the-job learning experiences," Richards said. "Registered Apprenticeship is a leader in preparing American workers to compete in a global 21st Century economy, because the system keeps pace with advancing technologies and innovations in training and human resource development."
Richards listed some of the challenges for employers in finding employees. One of the problems is that many of the skilled workers are nearing the age for retirement. Another is that there are many skilled jobs for which it is difficult to find employees with the right skills.
Still another problem is helping workers keep pace with industry advances, especially in the era of technical advances. All of those contribute to still another problem — predicting when the business will need more workers.
The Registered Apprenticeship Model can help in several ways, according to Richards. One way is involving the apprentices with the business early on. This, when rewarding the employee as skill levels increase, has the additional benefit of building employee loyalty. It also offers a national occupational credential.
Benefits to employers include training specific to the needs of the business, highly-skilled workers, higher productivity, reduced turnover rates and a more stable supply of skilled workers.
Employee benefits include increased skill development, higher wages as skill levels increase, a national occupational credential, career advancement and job security, with about 90 percent still employed after program completion.
There are also, for those who qualify, veteran benefits during the apprenticeship program. Richards also addressed several misunderstandings, such as registered apprenticeships being the same as internships and that they are only for skilled trades, such as welding and construction.
One problem is that many think that temporary jobs are a solution, which can result in a stable workforce. She also pointed out that it is not true that all of the registered apprenticeships are union jobs.
In answer to questions, Richards said that while 18 is the usual age for employment, the apprenticeship program allows for those as young as 16.
It was also mentioned that the schools may very well have a part in development of the apprenticeship programs work toward developing skilled employees.
Working with the Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration in the registered apprenticeship program are business partners. The business partners are individual businesses or groups of businesses.
The program has been in operation for nearly 80 years. It works to keep pace with advancing technologies and innovations in training and human resource development.
Another meeting is planned for those interested in becoming business partners. No date has been set at this time.