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Recovery Act supports Registered Apprenticeship in Kansas!

As previously reported, Kansas will make use of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) dollars for expansion of Registered Apprenticeship opportunities through a program titled Registered Apprenticeship (RA)Scholarships.  RA Scholarships will provide up to $500 per year per apprentice toward the cost of related technical instruction for the first two years of training.  Training should be in the Kansas Department of Commerce critical industries which include:  Advanced Manufacturing, Aviation, Bio-Science/Animal Health, Energy, Professional Services and Value-Added Agriculture.  RA Scholarships will also apply to the Construction Industry and Rural Business Succession.

What's different from what was previously reported?  Based upon input from participants at the Kansas Action Clinic, eligibility requirements for the RA Scholarships program have been broadened.  Eligibility will now include all WIA eligible adults.  This will include dislocated workers, displaced homemakers and underemployed workers.   Eligibility will no longer be limited to only Dislocated Workers and underemployed individuals.  The change will open eligibility to more individuals and make the program easier to administer at the local level.

WIA Local Area funds may also be used for supportive services as needed and appropriate for the RA Scholarships program.

How is your state supporting Registered Apprenticeship with ARRA funds?

Susan Symons from the Kansas Registered Apprenticeship Program shared this webinar - Education for the Green Economy: Opportunities, Resources and Models and it is worthy of your review. She was right, it's chock full of resources around different types of green jobs, professional development, certification, and curricular material, partnership models.

Also, Five States have been chosen to receive assistance to develop "green" career technical programs of study:

  • Georgia -- energy, construction and transportation.
  • Illinois -- energy, utilities and waste management.
  • New Jersey -- various industries.
  • Ohio -- energy, biotech and agriculture.
  • Oregon -- wind, solar and construction.

What's going on in your area around the "greening" of apprenticeship?

I'm the step-parent of two teenagers, one of whom has begun the college search pretty earnestly, and I just about fall out of my chair and have a panic attack every time I look at tuition costs for the schools she's interested in.  I'm the product of a wonderful four-year liberal arts education (I thank my lucky stars every day that somehow my studies in the oh-so-practical areas of religion, poetry, and philosophy landed me a family-sustaining career in workforce development!), and I honestly wouldn't trade that education for anything.  But it's interesting to me that when I was in high school, no one ever talked with me about our school's career and technical education programs, or about other options for post-secondary education and training, like apprenticeship.  I worked on a farm all throughout high school, and would have been interested in our school's very robust agricultural science program, but I was an "honors student" - which meant being "tracked" into AP classes rather than encouraged to explore career education and preparation options.

I think it's probably fair to say that that trend generally continues today.  My kids' high school has a pretty fantastic array of career and technical education programs, but no one to my knowledge has ever encouraged either of them to explore those options.  (To be truthful, my step-son is in a manufacturing and construction technology course, but only because of a class scheduling error.  I am happy to report that he is enjoying it, and we are reaping the benefits too - he just gave his father a wine rack he made in class.  Now, that's my kind of construction!)  I'm not knocking guidance departments - I know they are so often understaffed and overwhelmed.  But I just wish that work experience and career exposure and education were as mandatory in high school as are English and history.

I know, I sound like a cranky grown-up about to prattle on about how back in my day, we walked miles to school through blizzards and worked three after-school jobs, etc.  I have been known to do that at times, but I think the more important point here is a "cultural" one.  As much as it was just assumed that I would go to a four-year college, it was also just assumed that I would work during high school, and I am glad for the experience and the ethic I gained by doing so.  But work for work's sake doesn't seem to resound with this generation.  They want engagement, collaboration, gratification, independence, acknowledgment, and creativity.

It seems to me - if we can peel our kids away from Facebook, video games, texting, TV, etc. long enough - that we have an opportunity to support them in understanding how secondary and post-secondary career education activities and options, like pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship, provide them with the very work and life characteristics they value, like engagement and creativity and collaboration.  Sure, they could probably get those things by becoming PhDs in English lit, too - that was my initial plan, until I realized that spending over 10 years in school, amassing hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt, and paying all that debt back on a professor's meager starting salary didn't sound quite so attractive.

So I'm tossing this out to you for dialogue: as workforce development professionals, how are you having success in engaging parents, students, teachers, and guidance counselors?  As parents, how are you talking with your kids about these options and encouraging them to pursue career and technical education?  What's working, and what more do we need to be doing?

These days we are all about forming more and more partnerships in order to combine resources, services and opportunities to better serve all American workers.  There are great partnership examples happening all around the country, and on

June 19, 2009 at 2:00 p.m. the Office of Apprenticeship will be hosting a webinar highlighting a unique Los Angeles area example.  This consortium of partners have developed a model that leverages resources from a variety of public, community, and workforce development agencies, as well as organized labor, and the employer communities to meet training needs and drive social equity goals such as:

 

  • Re-building the middle class
  • Re-investment in low income communities of color
  • Access to a network of quality employment placements
  • Ensuring the construction industry has a high skilled labor pool
  • Employers have a source of locally training workers

 http://mahernet.connectpro.acrobat.com/r58066797/

My apologies for this time-delayed second installment of my in-depth ESAC coverage (I’m sure you’ve been waiting with baited breath for it, haven’t you?).  It’s amazing how quickly time can get away from me.  The ESAC was no exception, because this weeklong conference seemed to be over in the blink of an eye.

 

The Eastern Seaboard Apprenticeship Conference held in Boston had many wonderful highlights, a few of which I noted in my first installment of the ESAC Diaries.  I can’t begin to cover them all here, unfortunately, so I’ll touch on a few of the more notable ones.

 

For me, the highlights were not necessarily all of the presentations (although a few of them were), it was a combination of factors - the conversations, networking, and information sharing that took place among the attendees, not to mention the various backdrops for such conversations.

 

A major focus of the conference was green jobs.  There has been a lot of talk throughout state and federal stakeholders about “The Greening of Apprenticeship” (not to mention the talking heads on the 24 hour news networks), and how this new industry is going to create many new jobs, particularly with apprenticeship programs.  There is a huge push for developing this industry through the Recovery Act, and a good number of grant opportunities are going to be made available to support this push, and ultimately, the economy.

 

But (isn’t there always a “but”?), do you know what apprenticeship program sponsors are gossiping about around the water cooler?  They’re saying that this new green initiative won’t actually create that many, if any, new apprenticeship jobs.  (Insert pregnant pause here.)  Huh?

 

Yes, you read that correctly.  The general consensus among program sponsors and state directors is that we are not going to see that many new jobs created from green occupations being developed.  The word on the street is that the occupations we already have will simply need to incorporate, if they haven’t already, additional instructional modules to teach the skills and knowledge necessary for greening efforts.  There will be very few occupations that are specifically “green.”  Think about it for a minute.  For more than 100 years, the International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators have been saving energy, long before “green” became the new hot buzzword, and their work has become even more relevant today.  In Louisiana, the New Orleans & Baton Rouge Asbestos Workers JAC have been rigorously developing apprentices for many decades in energy savings, because they specialize in the insulation of commercial and industrial systems that require a specific temperature to be maintained at all times.  Improper insulation leads to substantial energy losses.  What could be more of a green effort than proper insulation?

 

Anyway, it will be very interesting to see how all of these “green” efforts and initiatives develop over the next few years.  One thing is for certain.  Al Gore is sitting back in his chair with a smile on his face right now that says, “I told you so!”  He threw down the green gauntlet several years ago, when the general population didn’t really care.  My, how times have changed.  Now every industry conference across the country has a subtitle with the word “green” in it, despite the fact that not many people have a good grip on what exactly “green” means yet.

 

One of the more notable presentations I attended was led by Mary Sullivan, an attorney with the labor and employment law firm of Segal Roitman LLP out of Boston. It was quite the eye opener for some of us, myself included.  She sat down with us and fielded questions. . . and questions. . . and more questions. . . until she probably felt like sending us a bill for her consulting services.  We could ask her anything we wanted to know, and I can assure you, there was never a shortage of raised hands.  She touched on everything from the new federal regulations to data security. The subject of particular interest to me was concerning undocumented workers.  Talk about a hot topic!  Should program sponsors ask for documentation of citizenship and work status for individuals who don’t appear to be native to this country?  Should they put students through the I-9 verification process? Here in Sportsman’s Paradise, this issue continues to be raised on a fairly regular basis. 

 

Ms. Sullivan’s answers may surprise you.  I certainly was about some of them. Her response, in a nutshell – Don’t do it!!!!  There is no legal requirement for an apprenticeship program to take on these responsibilities, but it is the responsibility of the employers to do so.  If a program sponsor does take these on, then you’re acting on behalf of the employer, as their “agent,” or even as an actual employer – and opening yourself up to significant criminal and civil liabilities.  In addition, if you ask for these documents for a few, then you have to ask it of everyone that is accepted into the program.  Word to the wise:  If you’re brazen enough to ask for documentation, don’t ever ask for it during the application process, only after they’ve been accepted into the program and offered employment.

 

At this point, you might be wondering, “This is all fine and good, but none of this seems related to the title ‘Feed Them and They Will Come.’ Does no one proofread these before posting them?”  Well, I was about to get to that. . .

 

Anyone who knows me well knows I love to eat.  When I am invited to events, my first thought is usually whether or not there will be food.  I’ve been to a lot of conferences over the years, so I feel I can make the following statement with a certain degree of authority:  The Eastern Seaboard Apprenticeship Conference knows how to treat their attendees.  It was, by far, the most impressive of its kind that I have ever participated in.  Many thanks and kudos should go to the ESAC 2009 Planning Committee, their conference coordinator, Elaine Cadigan, and the many sponsors who made it all possible.  You would not believe the top-shelf events, food and drink that we were indulged in.  Full breakfasts, snack breaks (which included the most sinful cookies, not those dry, crumbly kinds normally served), a LobsterFest at the JFK Museum, a Taste of Boston Reception with phenomenal food and open bar, and their 65th Anniversary Celebration upon the Odyssey cruise ship, sailing the Boston Harbor and enjoying a fantastic night view of the city – while feasting on a scrumptious dinner.  Folks, it doesn’t get any better than that!  On behalf of conference attendees everywhere, I ask those of you who are involved in meeting and event planning to please take note.  No more rubber chicken and luke warm food!  The ESAC has set the bar very high.

 

If you’re lucky enough to have the opportunity to attend this conference next year, I highly recommend it.  The panel discussions were excellent and useful, the food was unbelievable, and the networking opportunities were invaluable. 

I recently attended,and presented a session ,at the Eastern Seaboard Apprenticeship Conference (ESAC) in Boston Massachusetts.  My presentation happened to be on the Revised Federal Regulations 29-29.  Conferences such as this are invaluable for gathering information and sharing best practices in apprenticeship.  I remember when every region of the country would have such conferences, but because of budget restraints and consolidation of such apprenticeship entities as different facits of organized labor, the attendance went down and the in some areas have cancelled the conference.  There are many states that now have thier own conferences,which again can be an excellent way to gain knowedge about what's going on in the apprenticeship arena, especially in those states where there is a need to expand and integrate the Workforce Investment Act segment into registered apprenticeship.  I find that communication about what apprenticeship is and how it works can go a long way when success stories and best practices are shared.  Some states Departments of Education  give in service training credits for attendance to some of these confernce sessions. It seems odd to me that there are some states out there that have embraced apprenticeship and work well in integrating apprenticeship and workforce boards and there are others that barly speak.  These gatherings such as Eastern Seaboard, Southern States,  and Rocky Mountain apprenticeship conference can do so much to expand apprenticeship if those managing and attending would open up to others who can help support the concept of registered apprenticehip.  Some feel that registered apprenticeship is "owned" by the Government (State or Federal) but in fact, it is a voluntary system with ownership by the apprenticeship sponsors, apprentices, labor and management.  If you have any thoughts on this, please post. 

Even though there's a downturn in construction right now, many building trades unions are using this slow spell to be proactive and find ways to provide training for members in "green skills" to build career pathways for the green economy.  The California Labor Federation, AFL-CIO, (CLF) and the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California (SBCTC) are partners in an innovative project which is preparing for the green surge by Building Green Careers.

With a contract from the state Employment Training Panel, the CLF and the SBCTC have targeted the building trades that will be most affected by the green economy.  These include electricians who will set up solar power systems; plumbers who will install water-saving, environmentally friendly appliances; sheet metal workers who will service more fuel-efficient air systems; and iron workers who are installing wind turbines.  Currently, there are minimal green certifications implemented in these industries. By being strategic, and training the workers now, the Labor Federation and the Council hope to lead the green movement by having the training in place before green certification becomes required. Training is geared to journey workers, who will in turn pass on their knowledge on the job to apprentices.

AB32, California's Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, has implications for construction, energy generation, ventilation, and air conditioning businesses.  With at least five other recently enacted laws on the books that directly affect the trades and their ability to "work green," plus new technologies, and the growing interest among builders to achieve Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification, the curriculum focuses on three key areas as determined by employer business needs and input from union representatives.  Commercial Skills training covers energy-efficient technologies and products, along with new safety skills.  Computer Skills training includes blueprint modification, computerized systems adjustment, AutoCAD, and project planning software. Business Skills gives workers the tools to plan, organize, and manage their construction projects, team-building and leadership skills, and figuring out green solutions in traditional work environments.

The 12 JATCs participating in the project, which started in January 2009, include six IBEW locals, two from the United Association, two Cement Masons locals, one Laborers JATC, and one Plasterers program.  Besides craft-specific upgrade training, workers from participating JATCs will also attend a "Green Industry" course which touches on the impact of the green economy on their work, and how to prepare for the changes that are in store.  There's a learning component for contractors on preparing the workforce for green building projects.  A video is also in the works that features project participants telling their own stories about their green skills training, and what they see as the future of the green construction industry.

While there's a lot of talk these days about creating new green jobs, we know that green jobs are already here, and construction workers have been performing many of these jobs for decades. Green jobs aren't just in solar and wind generation, either, as we can see from the participation of the Plumbers, Cement Masons, Laborers, and Plasterers.  By leveraging the negotiated funds in the JATCs, and public funds such as ETP, our journey workers and apprentices can have a head start on making sure they're prepared for the new technologies, products and certifications that will usher in the green collar economy.

Are there similar programs in your area that leverage different sources of funds for green skills training?  How are apprentices and journey workers meeting the challenges of new green technologies and products in construction, energy generation, and other industries?   

 

The DOL Office of Disability Employment Policy and ETA’s Office of Apprenticeship have

announced the availability of approximately $400,000 to fund cooperative agreements to conduct

two pilot projects to develop models to improve systems capacity to provide inclusive Registered

Apprenticeship training and pre-apprenticeship training to youth and young adults with disabilities

Under this initiative, funding will be awarded through a competitive process to two consortia to

research, test, and evaluate innovative systems models for providing inclusive integrated

apprentice training in a high-growth industry to youth and young adults with disabilities,

including those with the most significant disabilities, between the ages of 16 and 27. To be

considered for an award, consortium applying for the grant must have representation from

each of the following four organization types:

1. A Registered Apprenticeship Program (RAP) sponsor in a high-

growth industry sector;

2. A community-based organization (CBO) with demonstrated

experience securing job training services from established training

institutions such as community colleges, and providing placement and

support services to apprentices in high-growth industries;

3. A public/private non-profit or for-profit organization, which

may be faith-based, with demonstrated experience providing employment

and training services and employment related support services to people

with disabilities; and

4. An educational institution.

The solicitation in the June 16 FEDERAL REGISTER provides background information, describes the

application submission requirements, outlines the process that eligible entities must use to apply

for funds covered by this solicitation, and outlines the evaluation criteria used as a basis for selecting

the grantees.

My Friend, Maggie
Posted on June 12, 2009 by Thao Nelson
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A Message from Jennifer Murphy, Our Featured Apprentice-

 

My friend, Maggie, just became an apprentice.  She started work three weeks ago and is in the Transportation Systems program.   Their crew is responsible for traffic signals, street lighting, and citation cameras.  (I try not to hold this against her.)  When I found out they were hiring for this program, and I knew that Maggie was looking for work I convinced her to apply.  The job description looked tough. At every step of the application process everyone looked surprised that she would want to do this kind of work.  They kept saying, “There will be 90 pound jackhammers.  Can you operate a 90 pound jackhammer?”  I was confident this would be no hurdle for her; Maggie and I had played rugby together for years.  She is 5’11” and can easily pick me up and swing me around.  And, well... I weigh a little more than 90 pounds myself.

The Transportation Systems workers work outdoors every day, but not in some kind of granola outdoors... they are working in Los Angeles traffic.  Surrounded by orange cones and delineators, working in ditches and vaults, breathing car exhaust fumes, under the scorching sun. 

I was so nervous!  I want things to go well for her, not only because she is my friend, but because I dragged her into this!

When Maggie found out she had been accepted and would be starting work soon we were all so excited.  I supervised her selection of boots and tools, and made her get high quality stuff.  I didn’t want to see her spending weeks in agony with aching feet, or hauling around junky tools.  I call Maggie almost every day to ask how it’s going, how she is getting along with the guys, are they teaching her everything, have there been a lot of 90 pound jackhammers...

Of course I have no reason to worry; Maggie is in a program just like mine where qualified professionals teach her everything she needs to know, and more.  Right now her crew is pulling wires and fiber optics cables off of big reels and into the conduits under the sidewalk from one access box to another about 1000 feet away.  Everyone has to work together as a team, and communicate and time the pulls properly.  Their crew is smooth and efficient. 

I get so excited to see my friends and loved ones succeed! 

I was recently flattered to learn that my sister has been impressed enough with my experience with apprenticeship that she has decided to find her own apprenticeship!  For years I’ve seen apprenticeship as an excellent option for Paula, but as a single parent she felt she couldn’t make an apprentice her top priority while her kids were still so young and needed so much of her time.  Now finally the time has come, and I wish I could be there with her in Pasco, sorting through the apprenticeship possibilities with her, trying to imagine the direction her life will take!

It all reminds me of my early days in the trade.  The guys took one look at me and knew I was new.  They could tell because my tools were all clean and  new and shiny.  They thought I should rub dirt on all my tools so I would look like I knew what I was doing.  But I was glad to have everyone know I was new because I wanted to learn from them.  Everyone had advice for me.  “Don’t loan out your tools to anyone but electricians!” “Put THESE tools in your pouch handles up and THESE tools handles down!” “Never walk anywhere--even the bathroom-- with your hands empty” “Always have two ways to get to work and get to work at least 15 minutes early” “Wire stretchers, and fluorescent tube benders don’t exist.  If someone asks you to go get one they are trying to make you look stupid.  Also there is no free tool at the bottom of a bucket of wire lubricant, so don’t reach your arm in when someone tells you you can have it.”

It seems like so long ago, and it’s incredible how much I’ve learned since then.  I already love passing along advice to Maggie.  I can’t wait to give advice to Paula, too.  Even if she gets into an apprenticeship that has nothing to do with my own trade, I’m sure I’ll think of SOMETHING essential I can offer.  That’s what sisters are for!

 

Green with Envy
Posted on June 09, 2009 by John Gaal, EdD
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As I write this blog, it would be difficult to pick-up a newspaper without seeing something related to “green” on a number of its pages. Not that I am against saving our planet but I am concerned about confusing attempts to stir the economy. To date, I have yet to find a green “standard” for buildings. You say, “What about USGBC’s LEED or the NAHB’s NGBP?”  I say, “Remember the VCR?”

In addition, the Weatherization Assistance Program” has been touted as an excellent opportunity for non-traditionals to enter the building trades’ apprenticeship programs. However, as I encounter those individuals proposing this concept they are often referring to the energy auditor positions related to weatherization. To be sure, auditing a building and building a building are two totally different skill sets. To this end, I have spent the last three months attempting to identify (blue-collar) technician-level (portable and nationally recognized) certifications for the various tradespeople responsible for performing the weatherizing of residential and commercial structures. Again, I come up short-handed.

Therefore, as proponents of a time-tested training model, it is in our best interest to demand that taxpayers’ money be spent in a quality-minded manner. Now that the construction sector has slowed, building contractors supporting registered apprenticeship programs are in an enviable position to diversify their portfolios while addressing the energy conservation needs of our nation. Shame on us if we allow others to dictate the solutions to the two aforementioned paragraphs without weighing in on these vital issues of strategic importance!

 



A message from Paula Dudley, a potential Apprentice:

I have lived the typical story of a  girl who married and had children when she and her husband were much too young and were not ready, and one day the husband decided that his life was not what he wanted after all, and moved on while not surprisingly the responsibilities didn't disappear with him.

During marriage, money was always an issue. We found that we couldn't afford to let me be a stay at home mom, but besides a short stint in the military (honorable discharge), I didn't have any college education or specific training to be able find any "career" job. So I worked in jobs that didn't require more than the ability and desire to work; pizza delivery driver, stock person, cashier, holiday temp. While most of my employment could be described as "menial", I took my responsibilities and work very seriously and did my best at any assignment that was given to me.

As a divorced parent with custody of my young children and the responsibilities that came with it, of course money was still a huge issue. Any type of employment I did get had to be flexible, consistent income and something that didn't require lots of training before I could actually do the job.. I found work as a pt school bus driver, grocery cashier, and most recently a part time blackjack/table games dealer. While the income has had it benefits, the actual work didn't (have benefits), but it kept food on the table, and the lights on.

The kids are getting older, but I am not. I want to take more opportunities that are available to start my later in life "career".  Of course college is an option, but with it comes instant debt, as well as very limited instant work in most fields.  Starting a business could be a choice, but the risk of starting new with no previous experience, is just that, a risk.

I have watched my younger sister succeed in her work and learning in her apprenticeship. Over the years, I heard of her accomplishments and sometimes struggles to balance her life with her work. But with each passing hard day or week that Jennifer (Jennifer Murphy is a key contributor to our Community of Practice) would tell me about, she always reasoned with "the light at the end of the tunnel" and what the end result would be which I am proud to learn that she has just about completed.

I can and want to see myself putting the time and effort to commit myself to earning my place in an apprenticeship, and can't wait to see what life hold for me now:-)
"Its the wave of the future, green technology. But training for this growing industry is right here at home, today.  With the economy turning greener everyday, several electricians' unions are working to become leaders in renewable energy by giving apprentices the critical skills it takes to compete, " in Jola Szubielski's article highlighting that Richmond, Virginia's IBEW 666 is going green.  This was also covered by Richmond's Channel 12 News and the video can be found under our resources section.


Connect For Effect
Posted on June 03, 2009 by Greer Sisson
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“Connect for Effect” what a cool name for an Action Clinic don’t you think?  Or maybe you are thinking...who cares what you call your Action Clinic, after all wasn’t it Shakespeare who wrote “What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”  True, if I was talking about flowers, which I am not.  I am talking about Action Clinics and how to draw a crowd.  Iowa chose the name Connect for Effect because it reflects exactly what we are trying to accomplish through integration. We don’t see integration as just a workforce / apprenticeship partnership.  We realize to get anything done we need to bring lots of partners together to join forces in an effort to effectively connect our services.  Besides everyone wants to be connected or get connected, don’t you think?

So why am I telling you all this?  Laura is making me (just kidding) Laura suggested I BLOG about the Iowa Action Clinic because many states are in the process of doing some sort of Action Clinic.  But instead of writing about it you can actually view our Action Clinic….that’s right!  Iowa Workforce recorded it and we are using it to further train and educate partners.  You can also view the power points and handouts we developed and maybe something we have done would work for your Clinic so you don’t have to start from scratch.

BTW…Iowa’s Action Clinic was a huge success.  It was attended by 135 workforce staff, employers, organized labor and their representatives, education and workforce partners.  

So I know Laura wasn’t just making stuff up, why don’t you BLOG me and let me know what you are calling your Action Clinic and how it turned out! 

 

 

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