MEATA Conference Reflections and the Rise of Apprenticeships

Michelle Knierim - Regional Consultant ·

This year I had the honor of attending the Michigan Educators Apprenticeship and Training Association’s (MEATA) 2018 Spring conference in Traverse City, MI, attended by nearly 200 professionals. During the conference, the first Apprenticeship in a Day workshop was held, where 12 companies were given the opportunity to complete and register their apprenticeship standards with the U.S. Department of Labor.

In addition, there were several educational presentations and breakout sessions, including a press conference with Roger Curtis, who is the Director of Michigan's Department of Talent and Economic Development. He talked about Michigan's new Experience Sooner apprenticeship marketing campaign. He said: “Experience Sooner is about connecting folks with relevant work-based opportunities and educating them on the many benefits apprenticeships provide. It’s also about ensuring Michigan can continue to compete as a leader in developing top talent with the in-demand skills employers are so desperately seeking.” You can read more about the campaign here:,4669,7-192-26847-469309--,00.html

Throughout the week, there was a lot of discussion about non-traditional apprenticeships. One of the breakout sessions also included an on-site tour that gave an overview about agriculture and marine technology. Brian Matchett, Program Coordinator, Institute of Agricultural Technology at Michigan State University, shared information about their non-traditional apprenticeship programs and then took us on a tour to see some of the projects being worked on by one of their classes.

Another non-traditional skilled trades apprenticeship was at MI Local Hops, a hops farm comprised of about 200 acres, located in Williamsburg, just outside of Traverse City. The hops farm is currently the largest one located east of the Rocky Mountains. The tour gave us an up-close look at the entire process, from planting the hops, to the packaging and shipping of the hops for the breweries where it gets distributed.

This conference really got my wheels turning about different ways to promote non-traditional apprenticeships. In addition to a monthly meeting I host with partners in Wayne County about growing apprenticeships in our area, I plan to reach out to some local companies that don’t have “traditional” apprentice-able occupations and see if there are opportunities to start some new apprenticeship programs.

From a statistical standpoint, apprenticeships are on the rise!

It is estimated that apprenticeships will reach the 3 million mark by 2020 in North America.

According to the United States Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration, there were over 533,000 registered apprentices nationwide in 2017, an increase of 42 percent since 2013. In addition, there were over 22,000 registered apprenticeship programs across the United States in 2017.

When it comes to apprenticeships here in Michigan, we ranked third just behind California and Ohio in the number of active apprentices, fifth in the number of active programs and eighth in terms of new apprentices and new programs developed. So, as you can see, there is great support and many opportunities to further develop apprenticeships in our area.

If you’re wondering about how apprenticeships can benefit your company, you can find out more in this blog:

Apprenticeships and Six Ways They Can Benefit Your Company

If you or any companies you know are interested in learning more about apprenticeships, please email me at