How Registered Apprenticeship Benefits Employers and Jobseekers- Best Practices

Jill Monte - Content Specialist ·

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.

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.

Regional Apprenticeship Coordinator, Adina Tayar

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: How did you get involved with Apprenticeship?

A1: I was trained as an apprentice in an innovative PA based program that trains workforce development professionals and apprenticeship coordinators as Apprenticeship Navigators. In our full-time jobs, we spend approximately 144 hours over the course of a year learning aspects of registered apprenticeship programs, including organizational development, communication, project management and other skills useful in this work. I also had the opportunity to work with a mentor and tallied 2,000 hours of on-the-job learning related to apprenticeship to complete an apprenticeship program and become Apprenticeship Navigator. In this role, i have a greater understanding of registration, terminology, ecosystems, and the partnerships necessary to expand, sustain and diversity apprenticeship for our communities.

Q2: How did apprenticeship intersect with your job when you went through this program?

A2: I worked in an employer-facing role for our Philadelphia One-Stop called PA CareerLink, a part of the American Job Center Network. In this role, I educated employers about our tax- funded recruiting support services such as job posting, candidate screening and job fair hosting, as well as the local funding available for training and upskilling their workforce. It was a natural progression to include Registered Apprenticeship program development into these conversations.

Q3: Are you still doing the same work?

A3: I switched roles in my company and was hired into my current position as Regional Apprenticeship Coordinator when two neighboring counties, Montgomery and Bucks, decided they wanted to hire a dedicated apprenticeship subject matter expert. In this role, I utilize all of my training from the Apprenticeship Navigator training program and combine it with my expertise doing the employer outreach to educate and support apprenticeship endeavors throughout the two counties. My work intersects well with the staff at the local job centers, as well as with the Southeastern Pennsylvania Apprenticeship consortium, called ApprenticeshipPHL, and I am still a part of the state-wide network of other Apprenticeship Navigators, called the Keystone Apprenticeship Alliance.

Q4: How is apprenticeship supported and developed in counties and states without a local Apprenticeship Navigator?

A4: There are actually many people who can help educate and support any business or organization interested in Registered Apprenticeship. Throughout PA, there are Apprenticeship Navigators and very helpful and dedicated regional staff at our state apprenticeship office, the ATO (Apprenticeship and Training Office). Every state has a state apprenticeship office to contact and the USDOL as regional representatives who can assist and support. Also, many community colleges have apprenticeship and/or pre-apprenticeship programs and their program coordinators can often play a support role as well.

Q5: You've used a few terms, such as registered and pre-apprenticeship. Do you mind briefly explaining these terms?

A5: Sure! Registered refers to an apprenticeship program meeting state or federal guidelines that are approved by a state or USDOL apprenticeship council. Typically, registered programs are full-time employment incorporating approximately 144 hours of instruction per apprenticeship year with at least one year of on-the-job learning to master competencies associated with a technical position.

Employers can develop and register their own program through their state's apprenticeship agency or find a suitable group sponsorship to join. Group sponsorships are where an intermediary has registered a program for a specific occupation (or occupations) and invites employers with that occupational need to sign on and run the apprenticeship with oversight by the group sponsor. Group sponsors can be training providers, workforce boards, non-profits, industry partners, unions, or sometimes it's another employer. Pre-apprenticeship refers to a short-term training program designed to help job seekers explore an apprenticeship career pathway for a specific occupation or field, and often gain required credentials to enter apprenticeship employment.

Q6: What are some benefits an employer receives by working with you to implement an apprenticeship program at their company?

A6: 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.

Q7: What types of industries are most suitable for apprenticeship?

A7: 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.

Q8: 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?

Q9: What does the apprenticeship approval process entail?

A9: 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.

Q10: What is the ROI for apprenticeships?

A10: 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.

Q11: Are there any goals you have in the next year that you’d like to share?

A11: My main goal is to engage employers who have the bandwidth to support apprenticeship. If they are serious about pursuing it, I can help you register your program or find a suitable group sponsor. 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.

Q12: There’s so much opportunity in the world of apprenticeship … how can people learn more?

A12: 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 here.

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. (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.