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YOU spoke...WE listened!

We've received many comments on Heather Stefan's Blog titled: An Open Letter to Building & Construction Contractors as well as many requests for a copy of the white paper.  So here it is...back by popular demand- Registered Apprenticeship: An Economic Strategy for Business in America.

Editor's Note:  A blog from Ron Leonard on the history and importance of Registered Apprenticeships.

"Not too long ago as I digitally wandered through images of the U.S. Census of 1860 for the City of Philadelphia, I wondered whether I was looking in the right neighborhood as I sought to learn more about my paternal grandfather’s grandfather.   My search took me to an enumeration of the ship’s company of a sloop-of-war, the USS Pawnee, which was stationed at the Philadelphia Navy Yard, then located on a site where today a Coast Guard Station, a stretch of Interstate I-95, and a shopping plaza now exist.   If the person aboard the Pawnee indeed was a part of my heritage it would belie the belief that I was the first in my family to serve in the Navy.   But, the most remarkable thing about this search however occurred as I began to saunter about, in a manner of speaking, through the pages of the census records for the remainder of the ward.

Figuratively, I was strolling through streets, some of which no longer exist, looking at the inhabitants through the eyes of Isaiah St. Butler, the census worker who enumerated this district in July of 1860.   He took what we would call a snap-shot of the inhabitants.   This glimpse into the lives and livelihoods of the residents of Philadelphia’s Second Ward has much to tell us about the individuals, families, city, and country both then and now.   For, along with the tabulation of mundanely matter-of-fact information, there can be seen facets of life that paint a picture that can both illuminate our understanding of both the past as well as contribute to how we confront the future.    One of the facets that readily jumped out at me was the frequency of those who were listed as apprentices in the column where the “Profession, Occupation, and Trade of each person, male and female, over 15 years of age” were listed.

As with any large urban area of its day, one would expect to see diverse occupations that not only supported the local livelihood of the various inhabitants but those that contributed to a broader regional or national market as well.   Tin Smith, Carpenter, Piano Maker and Machinist were among such occupations listed in this neighborhood.   And those of the apprentices reflected both traditional skills of the day and what for that day were among the leading edge technologies that propelled America headlong through the Industrial Revolution.   On a sampling of just a few census pages reflecting this small section of Philadelphia were Apprentices to an Umbrella Maker, an Oak Cooper, as well as a Molder, and a Printer.   Also listed is an Apprentice to a Cordwainer, not a readily recognizable occupation in our 21st Century global marketplace.   However, in the days long before lattes & laptops when a commute was often measured in how long it took you to walk to work at a local shop or factory, cordwainers were skilled craftsmen who today would be known as shoemakers.    Given the number of cordwainers listed on just these few pages would lead me to believe that this neighborhood also included a shoe factory nearby.

Hindsight analysis of these few pages can fuel a wealth of foresight for anyone who may be pondering their own personal career direction or one who posits pedagogical practices in workforce training that have proven consistently effective.    Apprenticeship served more than to train individuals who are reflected in these census records, but served also to provide skills training that were instrumental in maintaining and sustaining the economic vitality of southeastern Pennsylvania for generations to come.   Because, beyond its immediate benefits, resulting in individual employment and skills attainment, it provided a host of intangible benefits that shaped families and successive generations by either re-enforcing or even instilling a tradition that is dependent upon a healthy work ethic and respect for the importance of career training & education.    Half of the apprentices appearing on these sample pages were from among immigrant families who might not have had the ability to avail of such opportunities had they not come to America.    Whether native-born or not, for each of those who underwent an apprenticeship, apprenticeship may well have served as a springboard to success that contributed to the success of subsequent generations in some way.    This I can see in an example of my own paternal grandmother’s father.  In 1880 he was an Apprentice Machinist, at age 15, to his father.   Although he did not go on to become a Machinist, he did go on to a career as a Carpenter.   And subsequently, his own son spent more than four decades as a tradesman as well.

Time and technologies have advanced in the past century and a half, and so have apprenticeships, specifically, Registered Apprenticeships.    Registered Apprenticeship includes what is best about traditional apprenticeships and incorporates a related-instruction component that provides essential theory to enhance learning.   Whether a traditional occupation, long recognized throughout history, or a newer 21st Century occupation in industries as diverse as biotechnology, information technology, aerospace, geospatial, energy, transportation, and more, Registered Apprenticeships offer benefits to employers and apprentices that are immediate & long-term, both tangible and intangible.   Employers, Educators, and Workforce Development Professionals may well consider the impalpable benefits of a Registered Apprenticeship as a valuable plus when looking to develop solutions that significantly impact individuals, companies and communities."



As I sat at my keyboard today working on the usual day-to-day, somewhat mundane - yet necessary - projects that help us keep the ball rolling on Registered Apprenticeship activities, I came across the article below and it reminded how much Apprenticeship, and the apprentices that walk through its doors, have impacted our country over the last ohhhh….400 years.  After reading it, I was energized to complete the task that I previously was sitting here complaining to myself about and realized that if it’s necessary to help promote Registered Apprenticeship, then it’s worth it! 


A Punch Bowl that dates back to 1700 just sold at auction for $5.9 million dollars.  And the guy who made it learned his craft through….you guessed it – An APPRENTICESHIP!


Take a quick look at the Punch Bowl and then read on to learn more about how Apprenticeship played its part in providing the skills needed to create it.  Those skills are still being taught today.  Not necessarily to make Punch Bowls.  But in everything from modern buildings with solar panels, to manufacturing processes that create more efficiency and better quality, Registered Apprenticeship is still impacting how, and how well, thousands of U.S workers do their jobs today.  


The Article Reads

An American silver bowl (est., $400,000-$800,000) set a record of $5,906,500 at a Sotheby's auction last Friday. The punch bowl was made about 1700-1710 by Cornelius Kierstede and descended from the original Royalist owner to his present-day English relatives, who revealed its existence in 2009.

Amazing...truly amazing. So much more than a punch bowl. Some background on Kierstede:

Kierstede was born in New York City on Christmas Day 1674, into the third generation of a Dutch-American family.  After serving an APPRENTICESHIP, he began working as a silversmith and registered as a freeman of New York City on July 26, 1698



Liz Smith, Program Manager for Washington State Department of Labor & Industries, Office of Apprenticeship, wanted to share this upcoming conference with our community-The Pacific Northwest Apprenticeship Education Conference.

The conference will take place May 19-20, 2010 in Tacoma, Washington.  Visit the conference website for more information and registration details.

Liz says, "The keynote speaker is going to be Dr. Robert Lerman, first Senior Fellow for Labor and Social Policy of the Urban Institute, and American University Economics Professor, and frequently cited expert supporting registered apprenticeship on the COP." 

Registration is now open and there is a sweetheart deal for early registrations before February 14th!

Check out Missouri's Apprenticeship website!  It's chocked full of great resources, job training videos and informative links.  It also promotes our Community of Practice.  Hey, thanks for the plug!

Editor's note: this blog post is from Heather Stefan, Director of Apprenticeship from the great state of Louisiana and our #2 contributor to our community.  Chad- your #1 position is in jeapordy.

Happy New Year, one and all!  This is going to be a quick post, because I don't have the time to wax poetic as I normally "try" to - but that will come later.  I'm just throwing this out for those who might be interested.

I recently held an Action Clinic follow-up workshop for our one-stop business service representatives across the state.  It focused mainly on the basic compositional requirements of a registered apprenticeship program, and some tips and suggestions to help them "market" the program to employers. 

This is very, very basic information.  I purposely did not get into too many details, because here in Louisiana, we see their role as a consultant to employers they come in contact with.  It is not necessary for them (at this point) to know apprenticeship intimately - just that they know enough to feel comfortable with introducing and recommending the concept to an employer, learning how to recognize a good program sponsor candidate - and passing possible referrals onto me.

This guide and powerpoint are far from perfect, but you may be able to adopt bits and pieces of it for future use.

Members of IBEW Local 1900 in Washington, D.C., are on the cutting of edge of developing a smarter and more energy efficient power grid for North America, revamping 50-year old power stations. 

What's happening in your area in making power grids smarter and more efficient?
I recently came across the Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute's (PHI) Web compilation of Registered Apprenticeship resources related to direct-care jobs.  The website offers:

  • Background information on Registered Apprenticeship programs in long-term direct-care;
  • Fact sheets explaining how long-term care employers can establish programs in their facilities; and
  • Links to outside resources and relevant publications.
The PHI Registered Apprenticeship website looks like a great resource for current and potential program sponsors - check it out!

Arkansas Apprenticeship Information



Currently, Apprenticeship Program sponsors number 116 with around 3,700 apprentices registered on RAPIDS( The USDOLs electronic Apprenticeship system). 


Apprenticeship Programs in Arkansas are some of the most successful in the Nation.  The Apprenticeship Community was successful in the latter part of the 20th Century to propose and pass legislation that funded apprenticeship classroom training; materials, curriculum, and instructors.  This, along with licensure of electricians and plumbers, provides the impetus for continued growth of the apprenticeship community in Arkansas.  Growth in industries such as healthcare, aerospace, auto, and hospitality have added immeasurably to program and apprentice participation, particularly in pre-apprenticeship programs that are tied to secondary and postsecondary education.


Support for Registered Apprenticeship continues to grow in the State due to the relationship between the Office of Apprenticeship, the Arkansas Apprenticeship Coordination Steering Committee (a Governor appointed committee), and the Arkansas Department of Labors’ Department of Workforce Services, Department of Career Education, and the Arkansas Workforce Investment Board (WIB) who collaborates continuously to address key issues regarding workforce development needs throughout the State of Arkansas. The Dallas Action Clinic brought together all three of these entities in a collaborative effort to bring about real change in the relationship between apprenticeship sponsors and the workforce development system in the State.  This collaboration continues as the product of an MOU signed by the Department of Labors’ Workforce Services, Career Education, Workforce Investment Board and the Arkansas Apprenticeship Coordination Steering Committee which has been presented to the Governor for inclusion in the Arkansas Strategic Plan which stresses education of the State Workforce Center staff and local Workforce Investment Boards regarding Registered Apprenticeships impact on the local community and education of Apprenticeship sponsors  on the services available at the Workforce Centers.

The above was submitted to me by:

Donald E. Reese
State Director USDOL/ETA/OA
Federal Building
- Room 3507, 700
West Capitol Street,
Little Rock, Arkansas 72201-3204


John Griffin

Collaboration: A Key to Mutual Success


In a December 2009 report by Dr. Robert Lerman (Training Tomorrow’s Workforce: Center for American Progress), it is suggested that the plethora of ARRA stimulus funds flowing to America’s community colleges might be better invested in students/workers if the current Administration would insist on greater collaboration between this system and registered apprenticeship programs. I could not agree more and have attempted to develop partnerships of the like across this great country over the past three-plus decades. For those of you looking for innovative and creative community college/apprenticeship models, I highly recommend you seek the assistance of Craig Fry with Ivy Tech College in Indianapolis, Indiana and/or Gil Kennon with Mineral Area College in Park Hills, Missouri. Their willingness to customize AAS degree programs to fit the needs of apprentices and their industries is beyond reproach.


If you seek additional information along these lines, Dr. Lerman will be presenting at the International Foundation of Employee Benefits Plans 2010 Training Trustees Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada on January 11th.




A program called Think Apprenticeships is helping to keep Alaska's future workers in the state. The program has helped 2,400 young Alaskans get jobs, and now it's reaching out to the state's rural communities. What are you doing to keep your workers in your state?
Susan Symons, one of our contributors, wanted to share this letter with our community.  It was sent out to many employers, community and tech colleges and RA staff in Kansas.   Will you share this with your stakeholders?

"With a 10 percent national unemployment rate looming, the race is on to create jobs quickly and to skill-train the workforce so the next recession hurts less. President Obama's policy is to help millions more young people and laid-off workers attend community colleges. But community colleges already are swamped by job-seekers' stepped-up demand for training, and government funds for higher education already are stretched perilously thin.
As cash-strapped states struggle to sustain support or minimize cuts to community colleges, federal stimulus money and Pell grants can help more students and displaced workers enroll. But the end result could well be crowded classrooms presided over by less qualified teachers. Worse, many eager applicants will be turned away.
Is there a grade A solution? Luckily, yes. Demonstrably more effective at increasing earnings than a community college education is the nation's apprenticeship system. One model getting off the ground in South Carolina expands apprenticeship and blends it with technical college.
If you think apprenticeship sounds like a relic from centuries past — good enough for Ben Franklin but a no-go in a 21st-century economy — think again. Nearly all advanced economies still incubate skills in the workplace. In Germany, the world's leading exporter of advanced goods, 60 percent to 70 percent of young people enter formal apprenticeships, signing up for years of rigorous on-the-job learning combined with academic coursework.
Apprenticeship is expanding significantly in the United Kingdom, Australia and other countries too. And the European Commission is calling for the public and private sectors to create 5 million apprenticeships by the end of 2010.
Largely unnoticed, the U.S. apprenticeship system currently trains over 500,000 workers. Apprentices learn while they earn, working as a regular employee, contributing to companies' output and mastering skills under the wing of trainers, who themselves learned mainly by doing. Apprentices take formal courses too, sometimes at community colleges or their work site with community college instructors. After two to four years of work, job-based training and classes, apprentices get a well-recognized occupational credential that documents their new expertise.
Research suggests that apprenticing raises a worker's earnings far more than just taking community college courses does. In Washington State, apprentices' annual earnings rose by nearly $12,000, more than double the gains for former community college students.
Apprenticeship's appeal is especially great in today's cash-poor environment. Government costs — for marketing and oversight — are low, since employers pay most training costs. The skills learned are what the market demands, bolstering the worker's career prospects. Unlike full-time students, apprentices get wages that increase with skills. And many apprentices earn credit toward a college degree, which still matters in many jobs that workers-in-training hope to land.
Given their low costs and high long-term payoffs, what's the best way to beef up apprenticeship programs? First, increase the pittance — $21 million nationwide — allocated to the Labor Department's Office of Apprenticeship so its staff can help employers set up new programs. Doubling the budget means thousands of new apprenticeship positions. Besides earnings gains, an upward bump of that size would fuel increases in payroll and income tax revenue that far exceed the added program costs.
South Carolina's success in expanding registered apprenticeship drives the story home. Thanks go to the state's business community, modest state funding (about $1 million a year) and annual S.C. employer tax credits of $1,000 per apprentice starting in 2007. The Apprenticeship Carolina Division of the S.C. Technical College System has registered an average of one new employer-sponsored apprenticeship program per week and more than doubled the number of apprentices. Career opportunities have been created in advanced manufacturing, health care, information technology and other hot sectors.
As another stimulus to apprenticeship, the federal government could reimburse employers for the classroom training. After all, federal subsidies to students taking community college classes that may or may not lead to jobs top $4.5 billion.
In an economy shedding jobs, it's penny- and pound-wise to subsidize apprenticeships to create jobs and help more workers build high-quality careers. A cost-effective subsidy might be, say, $3,000-5,000 for each apprentice hired beyond 80 percent of last year's level.
Higher learning deserves its high place in the nation's workforce-development strategy. But for the growing numbers who would be best served by learning and earning at the same time, policymakers and business leaders must form partnerships that deliver on apprenticeship's promise — job creation and more rewarding careers for more American workers. "

Dr. Lerman is an institute fellow at the Urban Institute in Washington and an economics professor at American University. He is a speaker at the summer meeting of the National Association of State Workforce Board Chairs, being held this week in Charleston.