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Greetings from Louisiana, where we’re having a fire sale on fresh oysters and shellfish.  Two for the price of one!  Come and get it!  And here’s a free cooking tip as well:  These will be best prepared either pan fried or saut?ed – hold the EVOO – they won’t need it.

Seriously, at this point, I think it might behoove BP to make a phone call and get some hints from Heloise, because if anyone can get an oil spot out or have a nifty way for cleaning up a messy spill, it’s her.  

I’m not going to sugarcoat it, because we’ve all read the articles, seen the news, listened to the radio, read the breaking news web alerts scrolling across our favorite news-related sites.  This is devastation on an entirely new level.  Is it Katrina? No – not exactly - but that’s like comparing apples to oranges.  Or, to put this in a way BP can understand – it’s like comparing heavy drilling fluid to seawater.  They are completely different.  The devastation from this will be felt for years to come, just like Katrina, and it's likely that the recovery from this BP train wreck will take even longer to bounce back from, environmentally speaking.  At least this time around, it seems as though BP will foot most of the bill for this recovery, at least initially, instead of the federal government.  However, only time, commitment and sincerity will tell.

When I first started as Director of Apprenticeship with the (then) Louisiana Department of Labor, I remember having discussions with a few folks about developing registered apprenticeship within the oil industry.  There are no such programs in Louisiana, and I’m not aware of any that may have existed in the past, either.  For the life of me, I can’t remember who my discussions were with – but it was with an oil industry association.  I was told by more than one person that the oil rigs pay big bucks, so it would be next to impossible to get anyone to participate starting at 50% of the normal pay that everyone else is getting.  It's tough, dangerous work that involves long leaves of absence from their families, so the money is the major incentive to get people to sign on.  In addition, it would be difficult to arrange the deliverance of related instruction, because of the fact that these workers often will come from a great distance to work their 14 on/14 off schedule, not only from within Louisiana, but other states as well.  Therefore, trying to coordinate the related instruction would take a herculean effort.

At the time, being the newbie that I was, I didn’t push back on that argument, because it really seemed valid.  I was still learning the ropes of registered apprenticeship, so I let it drop.  Fast forward two plus years, and  I feel a certain amount of good old fashion Catholic guilt because I can’t help but think that if I’d been more experienced, knowledgeable, or just downright pushy, I might have gotten that association to buy into it.  If BP had a registered apprenticeship program for oil rig workers, would it have made a difference?  Maybe not, but the rigorous level of safety training alone would probably have, at the very least, saved eleven lives.

Then again, those employers that sponsor a registered apprenticeship program (generally) hold the training and safety of their workforce in high regard.  What does that say about BP not having one?

“In a handwritten statement to the Coast Guard obtained by the AP, Transocean rig worker Truitt Crawford said: ‘I overheard upper management talking saying that BP was taking shortcuts by displacing the well with saltwater instead of mud without sealing the well with cement plugs, this is why it blew out.’"   Any apprenticeship program worth its salt, no matter what the industry, will tell you that shortcuts can quickly cause huge safety problems.  There is a right way and a wrong way to do things, and while the right way may be more expensive, or more time consuming, doing it the wrong way is not worth risking lives.

The previous quote and following is an excerpt from an Associated Press article that was released last Wednesday, May 26, 2010.  It is entitled AP Exclusive:  Workers Describe Failures on Oil RigThis is a lengthy excerpt, but it is invaluable insight into the conditions on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig shortly before it went down in flames.


“Investigators for BP told reporters at a briefing in Washington that rig workers misconstrued the test they had thought was successful. Investigators said they don't understand why the mistake was made and added that there had been debate among the workers on the rig about how to proceed .(. . .) The witness statements show that rig workers talked just minutes before the blowout about pressure problems in the well. At first, nobody seemed too worried, with Transocean chief mate David Young leaving two workers to handle the difficulty on their own and telling them to call when he was needed. The well site leader worked in his office. Then panic set in.


Workers called their bosses to report that the well was ‘coming in’ and that they were ‘getting mud back.’  The drilling supervisor, Jason Anderson, tried to shut down the well.  It didn't work.   At least two explosions turned the rig into an inferno.  Crew members were hurled through walls, doors flew through the air and the living quarters blew apart.  Workers stumbled across a bloody, dark deck, trying to pull debris off the injured.  Brown said that as he waited beside a lifeboat for the order to abandon ship, he witnessed ‘complete chaos, mayhem. People were screaming, people were crying.’  Rig leaders struggled to comprehend the magnitude of what was happening. An emergency generator wouldn't start.


Steve Bertone, the chief engineer for Transocean, wrote in his witness statement that he ran up the bridge and heard the captain screaming at a worker for pressing the distress button.   Bertone turned to Pleasant, who was manning the emergency disconnect system, and asked whether it had been engaged.  Pleasant told Bertone that he needed approval first, according to Bertone's sworn statement.  Another manager tried to give the go-ahead, but someone else said the order needed to come from the rig's offshore installation manager.  Ultimately who gave the order is a matter of dispute.  Donald Vidrine, well site leader for BP, said he did it. But Bertone said it was Jimmy Harrell of Transocean.


By the time the workers obtained the approval and got started, Pleasant said he ‘got all the electronic signals but no flow on meters,’ meaning hydraulic fluid wasn't flowing to close the valves on the blowout preventer.  Darryl Bourgoyne, a petroleum engineer at Louisiana State University, said a valve could have been broken or hydraulic fluid could have leaked earlier.  It is not clear whether the delay could have contributed to the system's failure to close off the well and snuff out the fire. The rig burned for two days before finally collapsing in the Gulf.


Gene Beck, a petroleum engineer at Texas A&M at College Station, said companies typically have criteria that allow any worker to engage the system if problems get bad enough.  ‘It's hard for me to imagine the situation where there's been a fire and an explosion and someone can't make that decision to hit the disconnect on their own,’ he said.  Workers elsewhere on the rig were having problems of their own.   Some were ‘told the situation was under control,’ even though it was ‘absolutely not,’ said Yancy Keplinger, a senior crew member.  Benjamin LaCroix, a tank cleaner, said walls and ceilings were caving in and workers were running for their lives, and yet rig officials wanted to do a roll call.  A couple of workers described a debate about whether they should be in lifeboats.   Once workers finally started getting into the boats, it took several minutes to persuade officials to start lowering them. Once they did, the operator didn't know how to detach a boat from the rig.  ‘It was only by the GRACE OF GOD that we didn't burn to death,’ LaCroix told investigators.”


It pains me to hear BP insinuating that this disaster could possibly have been caused by negligence on the part of rig workers.  The situation described above is horrific, and could have been completely avoidable if proper training and policies had been in place.  For goodness sake, an operator didn’t even know how to detach the life boat from the rig!!!!  Clearly, safety was not a priority.  There were eleven lives lost, untold numbers of jobs lost, an entire fishing industry lost and the devastation of the entire Gulf Coast ecosystem to prove it. 

Something tells me that when things settle down a bit and the inevitable tightening of industry regulations occur, there is a good chance that the oil industry will be much more receptive to the idea of registered apprenticeship .  I hope and pray that any new regulations that come of this will mandate registered apprenticeship training on oil rigs.  

When I get that first phone call from an oil company, I’ll have the initial draft of apprenticeship standards ready.  I won’t let them get away from me again.

Talk about a 'wow' story. Read about how Renee Owens, 36, an unemployed single mother with two kids, has found a new career even in these tough economic times.  "WOW" is a program run by the Wider Opportunities for Women that trains women for jobs in the green economy.  WOW  is also a WANTO grantee.   Reporter Desmond L. Marshall recently wrote an article called Low-income Women Learn Skills for Green Jobs and followed Renee on her first day on the job.  Check out the story and let us know the 'wow' factor!

Apprenticeship in the State of Delaware.


I approached a good friend of mine, Kevin Calio, Apprenticeship & Training Manager for the State of Delaware’s registered apprenticeship system and information on their system to report on activities in Delaware.  Kevin was kind enough to provide me with the following information.

There are 281 active apprenticeship program sponsors in the state with 1,053 active registered apprentices of which 104 are women.   There have been 83 apprentices graduated from the programs so far this fiscal year and it is expected that there will be significant completion activity in the next three months.  The active numbers of registered apprenticeship sponsors in Delaware is at its lowest in the last ten years because of the current economic climate.


The vast majority of Delaware’s registered apprentices are in the construction trades, which is not unlike most, if not all states in this country.  In Delaware, there is a state subsidized vocational-technical (Vo-Tech) adult education system for related instruction, which the vast majority of apprentices use.  Delaware has a relatively strict system and there is a mandatory drop from the program if an apprentice has greater than five school absences.  There is a state-wide uniform curriculum utilizing *NCCER (National Center for Construction Education and Research) materials.

When I asked Kevin about any linkages or activity with the Workforce Investment System, Kevin mentioned that there has not been any significant linkages made up to the present time.  We discussed the USDOL Office of Apprenticeship’s interest in establishing those linkages and the Action Clinics that were held in the mid-west and western parts of the country and that there are tentative plans to hold Action Clinics on the east coast.  As with many states, there is concern that the pressure is put on the apprenticeship side to link with the workforce side but it’s not necessarily true of the opposite.  Again, it’s the same response from all over, but I found that the Action Clinics have made a difference and have started both sides talking about integration.


Delaware’s Apprenticeship office is actively visiting worksites to verify ratio and pay rates compliance.  Kevin informed me that unlike many other states, the apprenticeship office is not located in the workforce side but in the industrial relations side and that he is considered to be in labor law enforcement.

Kevin can be contacted at:

Kevin Calio

Delaware Dept of Labor

Apprenticeship & Training Manager

225 Corporate Blvd

Suite 104

Newark, DE 19702

(302) 451-3419 Phone

(302) 368-6604 Fax

*NCCER is headquartered in Gainesville, Fla., and is affiliated with the University of Florida's M.E. Rinker, Sr. School of Building Construction


Submitted by John Griffin


News from across the pond... in the United Kingdom (UK), the government is making apprenticeship a focus of workforce development, particularly for training workers in the fast-growing healthcare field.  The British have developed "job roles," or our work processes for scores of occupations.  Please check out the May 2010 newsletter and website to see some of their common-sense innovations.

Editor's Note:  Our guest blogger is Susan Symons from the Kansas Department of Commerce.  What do you think about her message to the AP writer?

Dear AP Writer,

Well, I read today’s ACTE ezine article- More US Students Requiring College Remedial Education that made me gasp! 

“The AP (5/12, Armario) reports, "Nationwide, about a third of first-year students in 2007-08 had taken at least one remedial course, according to the US Department of Education. At public two-year colleges, that number rises to about 42 percent." To address this disparity, "the Obama administration is pushing states to adopt tougher standards, and governors and education leaders across the country are working together to propose a uniform set of common standards." Others, however, argue that "the problem points to the need to develop alternative forms of job training for people who aren't academically inclined and are unlikely to finish college," and suggest solutions such as "an apprenticeship program similar to those offered in Finland, Japan and Germany."

We know that people need the same skills for success in life, with higher skills and post-secondary education and training being requisite for all but a fraction of jobs.  So why talk about alternate training programs and then cite Registered Apprenticeship with the implication being that Registered Apprenticeship is that “alternate training” model for those not “academically challenged.”  The author of this AP article obviously does NOT understand the complex skills needed and the status that Registered Apprenticeship holds in Finland, Japan and Germany! 

Yours truly,
We are happy to announce that the 2009 Office of Apprenticeship Program Guide is now available here on the Registered Apprenticeship Community of Practice (COP) to be viewed and downloaded.  The Program Guide reflects the hard work and dedicated efforts of the entire Registered Apprenticeship system.  I would like to personally thank all of our staff, sponsors, apprentices and stakeholders for making 2009 a very successful year despite a declining economy which created financial challenges our country has seen only rarely in the over 75 years since Registered Apprenticeship was established through the Fitzgerald Act of 1937.  As you will see as you read the Program Guide, even in this difficult economic climate the Registered Apprenticeship system was able to make great strides in some very important areas.  Following the October 2008 issuance of revised regulations, a major accomplishment in itself, 2009 marked the start of efforts by our system to implement the new regulations, which among other things, increased flexibility and allowed for multiple training approaches for employers to select which path best serves an apprentice’s or employer’s needs. 

2009 also saw us expand our partnerships and strategies to meet the needs of emerging sectors related to Renewable Energy and Health Information Technology, while continuing to assist traditional industries such as Construction.  The Program Guide details some of those accomplishments and also highlights our efforts to integrate the Registered Apprenticeship system with the public workforce and education systems through the Collaborate for Success Action Clinics initiative - which we are continuing in 2010. 

I hope the Program Guide not only highlights our accomplishments, but also provides a good research tool for those of you who want to learn more about Registered Apprenticeship, how it works, and how it can assist you or your organization in preparing yourself, or your workforce with 21st century skills.

Click here to read and download the 2009 Office of Apprenticeship Program Guide.

John V. Ladd
Administrator, Office of Apprenticeship

Mike Shiffer from Alaska's Department of Labor and Workforce Development, Division of Business Partnerships wanted to share that they just celebrated their annual apprenticeship conference.  Also, he encourages those interested to see Alaska’s website  This website has several informational pieces in over twenty languages related to apprenticeship including to Alaska native languages.  Really, it has over 20 languages including my native language- Vietnamese.  Cam on (thank you)

Survival Means Moving Your Cheese

Several years ago, a book hit the market that continues to maintain its best-selling spot on a number of charts: Who Moved My Cheese? Although it was a quick read, many of us did not heed its deep and meaningful message. Most of the jointly-trusted JATCs running RAPs are funded by means of cents per hour contributions garnered from work-hours. This author can count on one hand the number of programs that have not seen dramatic decreases in work-hours and, thusly, enrollment.

Despite this downturn, experts continue to make claims of an impending workforce shortage in the construction sector as the construction market bounces back in early 2012. As more workers from the Baby-boomer generation retire, the construction industry loses institutional knowledge daily! Accordingly, what has your JATC done to overcome or cushion the impact from the convergence of the Great Recession and the Great Exodus? In this author’s opinion, waiting for an upturn is a recipe for disaster. Being proactive…trying something new and different now may be the factor that saves your program, industry, and/or community in the future. To this end, click on this link to understand how one program “moved its cheese”.


Registered Apprenticeship took center-stage on CNN’s ongoing “Where the Jobs Are” series last week.  This installment of the series, which highlights the experiences of employers and workers during the nation’s economic recovery, focused on a South Carolina-based Bosch Rexroth manufacturing program.  Through the program, apprentices work by night and attend Greenville Technical College (Greenville, SC) by day to gain advanced manufacturing skills.  The piece details the career opportunities Registered Apprenticeship provides and the benefits employers’ reap from training their own for the skills they demand.  The CNN segment also shows the changing face of today’s manufacturing worker, with companies now recruiting highly-skilled employees with advanced aptitude in math, communications and machining. 
Registered Apprenticeship’s ‘Earn While You Learn’ model is on full display as CNN takes a ‘day-in-the-life’ look at the experiences of a restaurant owner turned machinist who is working toward completion of his program.  Please post a comment on this great video as we'd love to hear your reactions and ideas on how to generate more coverage of your Registered Apprenticeship program.
Watch the Video Here. 

Editor's Note:  Ron Leonard is our guest blogger.  He wrote an article about the benefits of Registered Apprenticeship and wanted to share it with our community.  Thanks Ron for plugging the CoP in your article.

Mike McGraw had always been an ardent advocate of apprenticeship training and had worked with me in recent years to promote Registered Apprenticeship locally to members of the Philadelphia Suburban Plumbers Association.   As a past president of the Pennsylvania Association of Plumbing Heating & Cooling Contractors (PAPHCC), he requested that I submit an article about Registered Apprenticeship for inclusion in the Spring issue of PA CONTRACTORS  - the official magazine of the PAPHCC.  

See Page 18 of the magazine for the article, titled, “The Registered Apprenticeship Program”.

Ron Leonard
Apprenticeship and Training Representative (ATR)
Office of Apprenticeship, U.S. Department of Labor