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Work is Not the Enemy
Posted on April 28, 2010 by Thao Nelson
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Have you seen "Dirty Jobs" on the Discovery Channel with Mike Rowe?  He's been promoting apprenticeships and even has a special page on his website.  Here's what he has to say about work and how steel-toed boots are back in fashion-

"Doesn’t it seem strange that we can have a shortage of skilled labor, a crumbling infrastructure, and rising unemployment? How did we get into this fix? Are we lazy? Our society has slowly redefined what it means to have a “good job.” The portrayals in Hollywood and the messages from Madison Avenue have been unmistakable. “Work less and be happy!” For the last thirty years we’ve been celebrating a different kind of work. We’ve aspired to other opportunities. We’ve stopped making things. We’ve convinced ourselves that “good jobs” are the result of a four year degree. That’s bunk. Not all knowledge comes from college. Skill is back in demand. Steel toed boots are back in fashion. And Work Is Not The Enemy."

Check out his website where he has a page for apprenticeship resources.  You can click on a state to find information on apprenticeships, vocational training and more.

Education Reform: At What Cost?


The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) is currently a topic of discussion across this nation. Renewal of ESEA (formerly known as NCLB) will surely have a number of stakeholders weighing in on what is good for our children and, thusly, our nation’s future. Meanwhile, school districts in nearly every state have closed schools at all levels or slashed vital programs (i.e., career and technical education). Some, in fact, are considering going to a 4-day school week in order to cut costs and still deliver a minimum level of service!


Measuring success is difficult and often framed in business terms. To this end, Diane Ravitch’s recently published book suggests that we reconsider how we measure success within our K-12 system. Education is a public good similar to the service delivered by our police officers and fire fighters. Do we fire police officers or close police stations when the crime rate goes up? The point is that we should not judge teachers, students, and/or schools solely on one measure: standardized tests.


This author highly recommends that RAPs get involved in framing the discussion above (See link below for a model). Sooner or later, you will be dealing with the product of the K-12 systems mentioned above. Now is the time to speak-up or be prepared to deal with potential remediation issues in the future!


Connecticut State Flag

Seventh Annual Apprenticeship Breakfast Held March 23 at State Capitol

Event honors “truly unique Connecticut contribution to the workplace”

WETHERSFIELD, CT- Continuing what has become an early spring tradition, legislative leaders, labor officials and community representatives gathered on March 23 at the State Capitol in Hartford to pay tribute to the state’s apprenticeship program during the seventh annual Apprenticeship Awareness Breakfast.

Sponsored by the Connecticut Joint Apprenticeship and Training Directors and the state’s apprenticeship community, this year’s program, titled “Apprenticeship: Green with Energy,” was held in Room 310 of the State Capitol.

Several speakers shared their experiences and talked about the job opportunities the program has provided for them. 

“Our Apprenticeship Breakfast gives us the opportunity to recognize this truly innovative program that has helped so many people ‘earn while they learn’ and also find their niche in the workforce,” explained Jack Guerrera, Connecticut Department of Labor’s Apprenticeship Program Manager. “It also allows us to honor the late Congressman William Fitzgerald of Norwich, who represented Connecticut’s 2nd District, and is often referred to as the Father of Apprenticeship.”

A Norwich native, Congressman Fitzgerald represented the New London-Norwich area from 1937 to 1938. In addition to sponsoring the original legislation that led to the National Apprenticeship Act which was signed into law by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1937, Fitzgerald also served as a Deputy Commissioner at the Connecticut Department of Labor, and as Mayor of Norwich.

Apprenticeship, is often referred to as ‘the other four-year degree,” for providing a successful combination of on-the-job training and classroom study.

“The development of skilled craft workers is of vital importance to the continued economic growth of our state and nation,” Guerrera noted.  “Our annual Apprenticeship Awareness Breakfast is a way for us to spread the word and educate the public about the job opportunities apprenticeship offers, and the benefits it provides to our state.”

In addition, apprentices and their sponsoring organizations were on hand to answer questions and provide additional information about available programs. Visitors also checked out a special photo exhibit on the upper concourse of the Legislative Office Building that was on display from March 15 to March 26. The posters depict apprentices involved in their individual trades and the many programs that provide participants with opportunities to “earn while they learn” skills that are highly marketable in today’s economy.

According to Guerrera, the state’s apprenticeship system offers career opportunities in more than 400 trades, including carpentry, plumbing and masonry. The Connecticut Department of Labor’s Office of Apprenticeship Training is responsible for registering apprentice programs that meet federal and state standards. "Apprenticeship has been a fixture in our state and on the national employment and training scene for more than 70 years and Connecticut residents can take pride in its success," he said.

In Connecticut, more than 3,000 employers and labor/management committees employ approximately 6,000 apprentices in registered apprenticeship programs.  

Additional information about apprenticeship can be found on the agency’s Web site at

Submitted by John Griffin

The Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory recently conducted a study of the (EESS) energy efficiency services sector workforce needs.  In its’ findings, there’s a shortage of formal training programs in energy efficiency and a need for more funding to train the trainers also and is a high demand right now. This growth is in part due to the funding for energy efficiency programs both federal and state budgets through the use of American Recovery Reinvestment Act Funding.

Berkeley Lab researchers decided to examine whether education and training programs were adequate to meet the workforce needs of the next ten years; and to define the energy efficiency workforce sector, including occupations, employers need and current education and training approaches, as this had not been explored in previous studies. Although this study began in 2008, prior to the passing of the Recovery Act; a lack of formal training programs could hamper the rate of expansion. The building and construction trades make up around 65-70% of the energy efficiency services sector.

For results of the study, click here to read the presentation.

The following recommendations were made as a result of the study:
• Providing targeted education and training programs for the construction and building trades.
• Coordinating and tracking training efforts particularly in states that do not already have well established  energy efficiency programs and to share best practices across states.
• Increase short-duration, applied trainings to augment on-the-job training for existing EESS workers and to introduce new entrants to the field.
• Increase funding to train the trainers.
• Prepare the next generation of EESS professionals.

Click here for a detailed summary of the report.

Kentucky's ten local WIA Boards Request for Proposals were sent out in November and December of 2009 asking that they partner with Registered Apprenticeship programs and bring forward innovative ideas on how to expand Pre-Apprenticeship/Apprenticeship participation.

After the Pre-Apprenticeship training phase the plan would be for the participants to graduate directly into Registered Apprenticeship programs.  The Registered Apprenticeship  programs are managed by the various partners.  The education/training of recruits is to start in April as well as request for initial funding draws.

Three Workforce Investment Areas in Kentucky were awarded a total of $718,954.  The Greater Louisville WIA received $250,000, the Green River WIA received $250,000 and the Northern Kentucky WIA received $218,954.  All three WIA’s have begun recruiting eligible persons into the Pre-Apprenticeship programs they established in partnership with Registered Apprenticeship programs and others in their geographic areas.

The Greater Louisville WIA expects to enter 72 persons in its two Pre-Apprenticeship training programs.  Twelve of those will be in an intensive Welding program and the other sixty in a general construction program co-developed with Louisville Building & Construction Trades Council.  The latter program will feed graduates into an existing program called the Louisville Pipeline.

The Green River WIA (Owensboro, KY) expects to enter 75 persons in a construction pre-apprenticeship program that will be closely tied to its partners in Electrical, Heat & Frost Insulators and general Construction Trades.

The Northern Kentucky WIA (Covington, Newport, Florence, KY) is shooting for 90 entrants in its Pre-Apprenticeship program.  Bricklayers, Electricians, Plumbers and Sheet Metal industries/unions are the main partners in this program.

"How Are The Local WIA Boards Partnering With Registered Apprenticeship In Your  City?"

U.S. Department of Labor
has awarded SER Metro-Detroit, Jobs for Progress, Inc. and the International Training Institute for the
Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Industry approximately $5.3 Million in Energy Training Partnership grants through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Recovery Act) to train 580 people in Macomb, Wayne and Washtenaw counties for green jobs.   The Regional Energy Efficiency Partnership Training Program (REEPTP) will use approximately $4.3 million  grant funds  awarded to SER Metro-Detroit, Jobs for Progress, Inc. to coordinate several partnerships to provide combined academics with green occupational skills training, on the job training (OJT), employment or apprenticeship opportunities, and support services to 340 people in Wayne County.. The programs will partner with other organizations to create a pipeline of skilled workers for alternative energy opportunities in Southeast Michigan.

The 340 unemployed workers will be trained for green jobs or apprenticeship opportunities through five training tracks. Training will be offered at various Wayne County Community College District or union training locations. Program completers will be awarded a CCCD Convergent Technology Energy Efficiency Training Certificate and/or appropriate certifications for completing 391 hours of instruction, training or OJT requirements.
The grantee will prepare the unemployed and incumbent sheet metal workforce for careers in energy efficient building construction, retrofitting, and manufacturing through a series of customized training courses that address the skills gap of the targeted workforce. Training will feature three areas of instruction:
1) Advanced Building Information Modeling (BIM); 2) HVAC Testing, Adjusting, and Balancing (TAB); and, 3) Phenolic Installation. 

The International Training Institute for the Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Industry will utilize about $1
million of almost $5 million it won nationally to prepare 240 unemployed and incumbent sheet metal
workers for careers in energy efficient building construction, retrofitting, and manufacturing through a series
of customized training courses that address the skills gap of the targeted workforce.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Energy Training Partnership grant program will help train workers to enter the energy efficiency and renewable energy industries, as well as green occupations within other
industries. The grants invest in partnerships of diverse stakeholders including labor organizations, public or
private employers in the energy efficiency and renewable energy industries, and the workforce system.
Bringing together the workforce expertise of these groups will allow grantees to develop programs that are
responsive to the needs of both workers and employers, and that provide participants with the support
needed to successfully complete training. 

"How Are ARRA Funds Being Utilized For Green Jobs Training In Your State?" 


"Expand Apprenticeships"  that's what Justin Lahart from the Wall Street Journal suggests as a solution. 

Lahart points out- "The March employment report showed that American workers aged 16-24 had an unemployment rate of 18.8%, nearly double the 9.7% unemployment rate for the population at large. Even though these young workers represent only about an eighth of the work force, they account for a quarter of America’s unemployed."

This rise in youth unemployment is seen worldwide and has huge consequences socially and financially.  Read Lahart's article "Youth Unemployment Surges World-Wide" and let us know your solution!

We continue our apprentice blog series with The Washington DC Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee.  These students, all in different stages of the program, share their thoughts and feelings about life as an apprentice.  Check out  what they are saying about their experiences in the JATC apprenticeship program.

Meet Michael Baldwin, a second year apprentice of the JATC Local 26. You can call him "Mike."  His story is like many others who find themselves bouncing around various jobs trying to find what they want to do with their life.  Through casual chit chat, he heard about apprenticeship and started investigating different programs.  After applications, testing and  interviews, he landed a union electrician apprenticeship.

"They've given me an education, career, opportunity and all they've asked in return is for me to succeed."  Read more about Mike's experience and hopefully you'll gain some important insight before you too join an apprenticeship program.

The internet is a wonderful thing.  I honestly don’t know how in the world civilization got along without it for as long as we did.  How did people communicate, network, learn, get the latest news, shop, find recipes, catch up on the TV shows they missed?  How, how, how?

Ask anyone born after 1982, and they probably can’t answer that question with first hand knowledge.  For better or for worse, I can answer it, since I am approaching the 40 year mark much faster than I can stomach.  I remember the days when there were only three channels on TV, no answering machines, phones that were stationary, and people actually sent handwritten letters to each other via the U.S. Post Office.  All records were kept in paper files and typed on typewriters.  Documents were mailed back and forth and back again.  What used to be a month-long process to complete a business transaction, such as finalizing a contract, is now completed in a day or less.  It’s really amazing if you think about how drastically communication avenues have changed.  In the past 25 years, we’ve come a long way, baby!

So, here we are, in 2010, and everything is instant.  Needing instant gratification used to be considered a supposed personality flaw, but now it’s just par for the course.  News, communication, transactions, instant!  And not only can you get your information at the click of a mouse anymore – because that’s old school – you can get bombarded by it via email, print media, TV, radio, text, and through social networking feeds, like Facebook and Twitter.   It seems like every federal government agency has a Twitter feed now!

My state government, depending on the department, seems to dabble a bit in the social networking fury here and there, but for the most part, have not gotten on the bandwagon.  My agency blocks all of these sites so that employees don’t spend all day on Facebook taking yet another “What Type of Shoe are You?” quiz – instead of doing their actual work.  For the most part, I can’t say that I blame them.  However, I’ve been trying to bring the Louisiana Apprenticeship Division into the 21st century since I took this position two years ago, and in many ways have succeeded.  About six months ago I started a Facebook group entitled “Registered Apprenticeship in Louisiana,” and so far I have a whopping – are you sitting down? – FIFTY members!!!!  The numbers are staggering, aren’t they? 

I recently decided to branch out via Twitter and LinkedIn.  Guess how many followers I have?  Six.  Not five, not seven, but six.  I’m quickly realizing that there is an art to social networking in the professional realm, I’m just not very well versed in it.  So much for, “If you build it, they will come.”  It seems that the key to developing a presence is to actually NETWORK on these sites.  I have spent hours joining like-minded groups, befriending industry notables, following pertinent and newsworthy Tweets, and adding workforce development professionals to “my network” – and have fifty six interested people to show for it.  Let’s not forget that I can’t access these sites at work, so all of these hours of drumming up free publicity must be done on my personal time at home.  I had no idea social networking was so time consuming, especially if you’re trying to provide updates that are time sensitive or relative to current events.  

Hopefully, with time, I’ll get better at this.  I have many goals that I’d like to achieve through this online medium.  I want registered apprenticeship to become better known in workforce development circles.  I want apprentices to connect with us so that they come to realize that registered apprenticeship is an extraordinary national system and opportunity to better themselves.  I want to be able to see more active exchanges of ideas on other sites besides this one (which is phenomenal in its own right, I might add).  I want program sponsors to feel more tied into our system, and be more informed about the latest news that may be directly related to registered apprenticeship.  So, if you have any ideas or best practices in this realm, please share, because I’m all ears.

(P.S. - Please follow us on Twitter -  LApprenticeship, join our Facebook group – Registered Apprenticeship in Louisiana, and/or the Linkedin group – Louisiana Registered Apprenticeship.  Help us grow beyond 56!)