Why Your Company Should Consider an Apprenticeship Program

Michelle Knierim - Regional Consultant ·

With more and more Baby Boomers reaching the age of 65 every day, experienced manufacturing and skilled trades workers as well as employees in many other industries are leaving the workforce and taking crucial skills knowledge with them. That’s where EDSI comes in … we work with companies to identify and capture this critical institutional knowledge (job skills) before these workers leave in order to pass it on to “apprentices” who can effectively bridge the skills gap.

According to U.S. News & World Report, Ninety-eight percent of CEO’s at 126 major U.S. corporations surveyed believe skills gaps threaten the sustainability of their business.*

What is an apprenticeship program?

  • Structured training program
  • Minimal entry-level requirements
  • Two major components: 1) on-the-job training 2) classroom training
  • Can be time-based or competency-based
  • Program typically runs between 1 – 6 years

An apprenticeship program can be registered by the state or U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). Graduates will earn a Journey worker’s certificate from an affiliated educational institution and often apprentices complete enough coursework for an associate’s degree. Research shows that “apprenticeship programs are music to the ears of the U.S. Manufacturing industry which has 310,000 unfilled skilled labor jobs.”**

If you’re wondering which jobs are “apprentice-able” here is a list of some of the traditional and nontraditional ones we’ve helped establish:

  • Traditional
    • Electrician
    • Carpenter
    • Plumber
    • Brick Layer
    • Machinist
    • Mechanic
    • Tool and Die Welder
  • Nontraditional
    • Pharmacy Technician
    • Financial Relationship Advisor
    • Public Transit Railcar Technician
    • Bookkeeper
    • Store Manager
    • Child Development Associate
    • Clinical Nurse Consultant
    • Medical Assistant

EDSI has helped many companies in the manufacturing and healthcare industries to build apprenticeship programs that mentor, train and grow newly hired individuals, turning them into long-term, hard-working employees. We help prepare your company and staff to start the program by:

  • Establishing a committee for taking ownership of the program
  • Setting DOL standards, qualifications for hiring, expectations on the job
  • Developing DOL paperwork and process
  • Training the trainer, finding subject matter experts (SMEs) and customizing training
  • Meeting with the Union, if there is one
  • Assisting in establishing an education partner
  • Helping secure funding assistance, when available
  • Making sure all parties involved are following protocol and carrying out duties

EDSI would oversee the apprenticeship program and partner with a community college and you— as the employer – to effectively lead your company down a path of self-sustainability. Employers we’ve worked with say they appreciate apprenticeships because employees who have gone through an apprenticeship program typically stay at a company longer. Employers believe the time and money spent educating and training employees and forging a positive working relationship is mutually beneficial for long-term success.

Worried about out-of-pocket costs to build and run the program? We have good news: there is government funding available to help offset the costs of your apprenticeship program. EDSI can help identify available government funds to offset the cost of starting up and maintaining and apprenticeship program.

Please read our client success story below for more information.

Kraft Foods/Operating Engineers Local 399; Chicago

With Kraft facing large workforce exits in skilled trade positions, EDSI was contracted to help develop apprenticeship programs that would allow for new apprentice hires to quickly acquire the skills necessary for success. By starting these programs before Kraft's most senior and knowledgeable electricians and mechanics were eligible for retirement, Kraft ensured the new apprentices became the subject matter experts of the future. Working with the Kraft Foods Chicago Bakery and IUOE Local 399, EDSI developed an Electro-Mechanical Technician Apprenticeship and Training Program. Utilizing Skilldex, EDSI’s web-based system that surveys individual skills and identifies and catalogs the skill needs of employers, a program was created for Kraft to address current employee skills as well as future skilled trade needs. EDSI worked closely with the Joint Apprenticeship Training Committee (JATC) on the creation of training standards and the development of training deliverables.


* Katherine Peralta, US News & World Report; December 2014

**David Francis, Foreign policy author for Foreignpolicy.com; March 27, 2017

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