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This summer, we’ll be celebrating the 75th Anniversary of the passage of the National Apprenticeship Act.  In honor of this important milestone, the Department of Labor (DOL) in partnership with the Secretary’s Advisory Committee on Apprenticeship (ACA), is launching a search to identify the Trailblazers and Innovators of 21st Century Registered Apprenticeship.

We want to hear from you!

We are calling on you to nominate programs, practices, strategies, or partnerships that demonstrate an innovation or trailblazing effort that you believe has had significant impact on the history of Registered Apprenticeship and/or has implications for Registered Apprenticeship in the 21st Century. Selected programs, practices, strategies or partnerships may be showcased in a major report to the Secretary of Labor or during this summer’s National Action Summit on Registered Apprenticeship tentatively scheduled for August 16th.

Can you answer YES to one or more of the questions below?

  • Is your Registered Apprenticeship program one that is helping define 21st Century Apprenticeship?
  • Are you helping to expand Registered Apprenticeship into new and existing industries?
  • Are you a trailblazer in forming new partnerships involving Registered Apprenticeship programs or sponsors with workforce, educational, or community-based organizations?
  • Do you engage in an innovative Registered Apprenticeship practice that helps provide solutions to current workforce challenges?
  • Are you helping to increase Registered Apprenticeship opportunities for under-represented populations including women, minorities, youth, veterans, and people with disabilities?
  • Have you crafted innovative policies that create economic development benefits or improve our economic competitiveness using Registered Apprenticeship?

Join us in celebrating 21st Century Registered Apprenticeship

The links below will provide all you need to know to get started: 

Trailblazers and Innovators Fact Sheet

Trailblazers and Innovators One-Pager

Trailblazers and Innovators Call For Nominations

Trailblazers and Innovators Checklist

Trailblazers and Innovators Q and A

Trailblazers and Innovators Full Package (includes all of the documents listed above)


Nationally, there has been a movement to expand apprenticeship programs beyond the construction industry.   In defining 21st Century Apprenticeship, companies must be innovative in training techniques, demonstrating the use of job task analysis, recognize the cost to investment value, while being both effective and efficient in methods of instructor training.  They must meet both workforce challenges and recognize career opportunities to be productive and competitive in contributing to economic growth (shared vision).  Presently Rhode Island has 616 registered sponsors and over 1400 registered apprentices— almost all in the construction occupations. 


Over the past few years, the RI Department of Labor and Training and the RI State Apprenticeship Council have recognized the value of pursuing registered apprenticeship in other, non-traditional areas. In 2011, the department began an outreach campaign to various industry organizations in order to promote apprenticeship as a viable training option. Soon after the campaign began, staff members were approached by the technology company, Atrion Networking Corporation. Atrion recognized that investing in a registered apprenticeship program would help provide solutions to their current workforce challenges.


Rachel Croce, Talent Development Associate best describes Atrion’s program:

The Internetworking Associate Apprentice Program is a combination of on-the-job training and related classroom instruction in which candidates learn both the practical and theoretical aspects of a new trade in the IT industry.   The Programs goal is to launch the careers of promising entry-level candidates entering into the IT industry with little to no prior relevant work experience.  In the paid, one-year intensive program, we challenge candidates to attain well-rounded professional skills, technical knowledge and industry recognized certifications in our advanced technology space. Technical skills include, but are not limited to: Microsoft Server Foundations, Cisco Unified Communications and Routing and Switching concepts using a mix of instructor focused training, hands-on lab work, self-study, on the job training and technical challenges.  Our training methodology does not stop there: the Apprentice program also highlights the importance of business professionalism and customer service, presented in customized training throughout the entirety of the Apprenticeship.  


Not only has Atrion launched its first class of apprenticeships (yes?), but it has also begun reaching out to other industry partners to promote and expand registered apprenticeship in the Information Technology field.


In Rhode Island, where the unemployment rate averaged 11.3 percent last year, employer investments in training are welcomed with open arms. Skills training can be critical to an economic turn-around, as it increases the career opportunities of the worker while it improves the productivity of sponsoring business. Registered apprenticeships, particularly in non-traditional careers, provide businesses an invaluable opportunity to educate, mentor and shape a workforce to address existing skill gaps and fill employer needs.




Bernard E. Treml, III

Supervisor of Apprenticeship

RI Department of Labor and Training

Division of Workforce Regulation and Safety