How Registered Apprenticeship Benefits Employers and Jobseekers
Q&A Interview with Adina Tayar, EDSI Regional Apprenticeship Coordinator, PA Region
Apprenticeships are earn-as-you-learn, employer-based training programs that can be customized to meet the needs of any business. Connecting apprenticeship programs with your state and local workforce system is a win-win partnership, and Pennsylvania’s Governor, Tom Wolf, is a big proponent of using apprenticeship to create new pipelines of workers who have the specialized skills employers need. This year, Wolf announced $1.2 million in new funding for apprenticeship programs to strengthen the commonwealth’s workforce and our economy.
With government and the private sector working together to quickly, efficiently and adequately train and reskill workers, apprenticeship can make a difference in providing the necessary framework that will encourage more employers to offer apprenticeships, while helping workers earn credentials that are recognized across state lines. For general information on apprenticeships, read this blog.
A big part of apprenticeship success lies in the development of national standards and funding streams and many states are making great strides.
I sat down with EDSI’s Regional Apprenticeship Coordinator, Adina Tayar, to learn about the latest in the world of apprenticeship, including the Registered Apprenticeship (RA) Navigator Certification Program, and how it’s changing the future of work in Pennsylvania and beyond. Our discussion appears below.
Q1: What is the Registered Apprenticeship (RA) Navigator Certification Program?
A1: The RA program is an apprenticeship that trains workforce development professionals to develop, register, fund, implement and expand apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship opportunities within their own local networks. The competency-based program includes 2,000 hours of on-the-job training (OJT) plus 144 hours of Related Technical Instruction. The Registered Apprenticeship Navigator program is the only one of its kind that trains workers beyond government employees. This new RA is designed to meet the growing demand by employers for apprenticeship training by preparing workforce development intermediaries to assist in starting and scaling up registered apprenticeship programs.
Q2: Who created the program and what did the curriculum consist of?
A2: Keystone Development Partnership (KDP) is the sponsor of the RA Navigator Apprenticeship. The program was initially developed by KDP in partnership with the Pennsylvania Apprenticeship & Training Office, who collaborated closely on the design. The apprenticeship was funded and made possible through Governor Wolf’s PASmart Initiative. PhiladelphiaWorks contributed significantly to the pilot launch in 2019 and leveraged their own ambassador network, ApprenticeshipPHL, to further expand the apprenticeship “ecosystem” and support the RA Navigators through ongoing networking and engagement opportunities.
Besides the core apprenticeship-focused learning, there were elements of project management, communication, writing, teamwork, recruiting, building pipelines etc. One of the program coordinators was certified in Myers-Briggs, so we also spent time learning about personalities in the workplace.
Q3: How did EDSI get involved and how did you become one of the apprentices in the program?
A3: In late 2019, EDSI was approached by APHL to send 3 Business Services Representatives and I was fortunate to be selected based on my experience and desire to grow my knowledge in apprenticeships. The first cohort of 20 apprentices included individuals from PA CareerLink® Offices and Local Workforce Boards in the southeast PA region. There were also representatives from training councils, community colleges and unions to name a few.
Q4: What was your experience like going through the 1 ½-year program?
A4: The training I received through this program was the most exciting thing I’ve done in my entire professional journey. You might even say I’m a bit obsessed with the topic of apprenticeship … in a good way! One of the most impactful aspects of the program was the mentorship piece. I had a great mentor and was in touch with them during the program and beyond. Being an actual apprentice gave me a whole new perspective on how I can better serve prospective apprentices and employers looking to implement their own program. Apprenticeship is such a fulfilling way to invest in people.
I currently am serving as a mentor to a colleague going through the second cohort from our Philadelphia office and it is super rewarding to support her in her apprenticeship journey.
Q5: Your previous job title was Business Services Manager, now it’s Regional Apprenticeship Coordinator. Tell me about the job transition and what your new position entails.
A5: The Workforce Board presidents of Bucks and Montgomery Counties are particularly invested in apprenticeship and seeing it grow in their counties, so they decided to jointly fund a dedicated position. When the job posted earlier this year, I applied for it and got it. It’s one of very few positions solely dedicated to apprenticeship and I’m really excited to be a part of making apprenticeships a viable pathway to rewarding careers.
Q6: How do you think the training you received in the Navigator Program enhances your ability to work with companies to build apprentice programs?
A6: It is invaluable. I think it’s interesting because those who went through the program really did develop a very strong affinity for apprenticeship. One of the great takeaways was the professional network created from the first cohort; we keep in touch and help each other out. I couldn’t be more grateful to the workforce boards and EDSI for making an investment in me and in this program where I was given the time and space to more thoroughly explore the topic of apprenticeship. I walked away with an immeasurable amount of knowledge on apprenticeship and learned how to help companies develop a program that is successful and long lasting.
Q7: What are some benefits an employer receives by working with you to implement an apprenticeship program at their company?
A7: Apprenticeship support goes beyond starting a new program; we can help develop existing programs as well. We offer wide-ranging support at any stage of the process. Apprenticeship Coordinators such as myself are experts at helping employers navigate the state system and complete paperwork, which often feels daunting. We can also provide them with documents of past similar apprenticeships to use as a model as they develop their program. In addition, we are able to connect them to training partners and recruiting pipelines locally, and we’re able to help them find funding.
A large drugstore chain, CVS, decided to develop an apprenticeship program for their pharmacy technician position with the help of a local apprenticeship expert who became the director of ApprenticeshipPHL. The process took them a year and half to get ready. Today, it’s up and running, they have partners they work with, and they’re constantly recruiting.
Q8: What types of industries are most suitable for apprenticeship?
A8: Diversification is a big goal in the world of apprenticeship. Apprenticeship had always traditionally been only in the skilled trades and manufacturing industries. Today, we’re developing them in IT, healthcare, finance, business, sales, HR, education –any job that has good career path prospects, is in-demand, and complex enough to require about 2,000 hours of on-the-job learning and 144 classroom hours to really learn it well –can be an apprenticeship. It’s comparable to the type of position that would qualify for an OJT (on-the-job training funding)– you wouldn’t create an apprenticeship for a cashier, but you would for a manager because of the required prerequisites, complexity, mentoring and training required to excel in the position.
Q9: What are some question-starters for those considering a registered apprenticeship program?
- What job position(s) are suitable?
- What would the classroom training look like?
- What would on-the-job training entail?
- Who will mentor the apprentice?
- What will wages be?
- What safety guidelines will be in place?
- What is the plan for recruiting talent?
- What do career pathways look like?
- How long will the apprenticeship last?
Q10: What does the apprenticeship approval process entail?
A10: There are several ways for states to support, develop, register, and expand registered apprenticeships – some registrations go through the US Department of Labor; others have their own state apprenticeship agency that manages the registration process.. In Pennsylvania, there is a nominated council of representatives who have to review and approve the employer’s apprenticeship program. See image below for the steps involved.
Q11: What is the ROI for apprenticeships?
A11: Research suggests that returns on investment for employers vary, but are mostly positive. Several variables make up the costs and benefits of apprenticeships, such as industry and occupation, and institutional and regulatory frameworks. Apprenticeships are not a solution for all employees or roles within an organization, but many companies find them valuable.
I’m very upfront about letting an employer know if apprenticeship is the right choice. Some employers are drawn to apprenticeship for the funding that comes along with it, but funding is too precarious to be the only deciding factor.
Employers should view apprenticeships as a capital investment, weighing both short- and long-term costs and benefits, as well as indirect costs and benefits.
Q12: Are there any goals you have in the next year that you’d like to share?
A12: My main goal is to engage employers who have the bandwidth to support apprenticeship. If they are serious about pursuing it, I can help them get their apprenticeships approved by the state so that they can grow their program. Outreach and information sharing is another goal. The more I can spread the word about apprenticeship, the more employers and career seekers will benefit, which ultimately makes a positive impact on the local workforce as a whole.
Q13: There’s so much opportunity in the world of apprenticeship … how can people learn more?
A13: I love talking about apprenticeship and would be happy to help in any way I can. Regardless of what state you’re in, I can help answer general questions and connect you with professionals in your local area. Feel free to email me at: email@example.com
Your local Workforce Development Board is also a great connector as part of the robust network of federal, state, and local offices that deliver services to workers and employers in support of economic expansion. Don’t hesitate to reach out to them! Try this handy workforce development board finder tool to find the location closest to you.
Other great resources
If you’re not already familiar with your state’s way of approving apprenticeship – go to the Department of Labor Apprenticeship website page to review the registration information. This will help jumpstart the process.
Apprenticeship.gov (Federal Dept. of Labor site) is another helpful resource. There is a Career Seeker/Employer click-through that can actually connect you with a Department of Labor Apprenticeship expert.