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Once a common practice in the U.S., many businesses offered young people on-the-job apprentice training. Over time, however, vocational learning at universities and colleges became the preferred path to a professional, highly skilled career. Unfortunately, some graduates enter the workforce lacking the necessary skills that can only be acquired through an immersion experience in certain industries and not in the classroom.

Some organizations are reviving the practice of hiring apprentices as one of their strategies for overcoming the skilled labor shortage, benefitting both their organizations and those seeking a fulfilling career. Here’s an overview of what an apprenticeship program is and why you might want to consider it as part of your hiring strategy.  

What is an Apprenticeship?

Unlike internships, which are typically temporary, short-term educational opportunities for students who receive a stipend or are unpaid, apprenticeships are paid employment positions with an average starting wage of $15 per hour. Apprentices are focused on specific skills training that can last anywhere from one to six years. 

In today’s apprenticeship models, work experience typically accompanies formal classroom education, and college credits are often earned for the related work experience. When the apprenticeship concludes, a certificate of completion is issued and the employer most often hires the apprentice in a permanent capacity. 

Benefits of an Apprenticeship Program for Employers 

Establishing an apprenticeship program benefits employers in more ways than simply filling open positions; it allows organizations to tailor training to address specific needs and industry standards. It also provides opportunities to invest in individuals who are eager to be part of a team and develop niche skills. 

According to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), apprenticeship programs also reduce turnover rates, with more than 90% still being employed nine months after the completion of their programs. The DOL also reports an increase in productivity and lower recruitment costs, and the involvement of experienced mentors helps foster a strong workplace culture. 

Some businesses with apprenticeships, including those in Wisconsin, may also qualify for state tax credits, helping to reduce their investments in training costs. 

Basic Components of an Apprenticeship Program 

There are no hard-and-fast rules for establishing what your apprenticeship program should look like, and you can customize it as part of a flexible training strategy. Instructional training and schedules can be structured based on the needs of your business and the apprentice. However, a program should contain these five basic components:

1. Business Involvement

Expect to work together with industry associations, apprenticeship councils or other organizations to help administer and maintain an effective apprenticeship program.

2. On-the-Job Training

Appoint an experienced mentor(s) to provide hands-on training to help the apprentice become proficient in targeted skills based on industry standards. 

3. Related Instruction

Collaborate with educational partners, including community colleges and technical schools, to provide related instruction and help develop curriculum based on national standards. 

4. Rewards Program

As would be expected for your general employee population, apprentices should receive pay increases as their skill levels improve and as they further contribute to your company’s success. 

5. Credentials

Graduates of an apprenticeship program receive a nationally-recognized credential indicating that they are fully capable of performing the skills they were trained in and are qualified for the job. This credential can be a valuable addition to a resume but, in most cases, the person transitions from the title of apprentice to become an official employee. 

Some industries more commonly offer apprenticeship programs, such as manufacturing and construction, but others are increasing these types of opportunities as well, including healthcare, technology, transportation and more. The DOL provides many apprenticeship resources for organizations interested in setting up a program, and the team at McClone can also provide individualized guidance on addressing your hiring and HR needs. Request a complimentary assessment today by clicking the link below.

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A collection of articles from the McClone team with the helpful knowledge and insights to ensure your organization is well protected.