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 Apprenticeship Maryland Action Summit


Apprenticeship Maryland is committed to strengthening Maryland’s workforce by supporting employers and labor organizations in establishing industry driven apprenticeship and training programs designed to enhance job performance, increase employee retention, and provide stable employment opportunities for citizens in and around Maryland. 


For those of us involved and familiar with apprenticeship, this mission is familiar and we have a working knowledge of the benefits associated with structured training and the opportunity to “earn while you learn.”  Unfortunately, many are unaware of the benefits of apprenticeship, or mistakenly identify it as an alternative to college giving it only minor consideration as a primary tool in workforce policy.  In Maryland, we have re-branded and re-energized our efforts to expand the scope and value of apprenticeship and have been greeted with very positive responses, and many workforce partners beginning to understand the full value of apprenticeship and joining us in introducing the concept to businesses representing a multitude of industries.  Under the leadership of our Commissioner of Labor and Industry, we have broadened the scope of our outreach efforts and saw an opportunity to unite a number of stakeholders together in support of apprenticeship. 


On June 1, 2011 over 200 people participated in the inaugural Apprenticeship Maryland Action Summit at Towson University representing a variety of organizations including business, apprenticeship, workforce, education, and government.  The meeting provided the opportunity to reintroduce apprenticeship in Maryland as a 21st Century workforce strategy capitalizing on the experience and expertise of a dynamic group of individuals with the shared goal of establishing strategies designed to strengthen apprenticeship training through practical policy recommendations.  The event was kicked off with introductory remarks by our Lt. Governor Anthony Brown, Secretary of the Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation Alex Sanchez, and Commissioner Ron DeJuliis.  Guest speakers included Dr. Robert Lerman, Urban Institute Fellow and Economics Professor at American University and Lenita Jacobs-Simmons, Region Two Administrator for USDOL, all who shared a commitment to the importance of expanding apprenticeship as a tool to both business and employees. 


The Event included facilitated break-out sessions along five critical areas: Aligning P-12 Education and Apprenticeship Programs, Expanding Higher Education and Apprenticeship Partnerships, Developing Apprenticeship in Non-Traditional Occupations, Aligning the Workforce System and Apprenticeship, and Meeting the Needs of Traditional Apprenticeship Programs.  Each group developed a set of recommendations that will be synthesized into a report later this summer that will serve as Apprenticeship Maryland’s Strategic Business Plan for FY 12-13.  The following is a condensed list of specific recommendations coming from the event:


  1. Enhance outreach and education efforts to employers and job seekers
  2. Enhance the web presence of apprenticeship and training to provide accurate and timely information
  3. Provide training to local Workforce staff to serve the needs of job seekers and businesses
  4. Identify stable funding sources to maintain apprenticeship staff and enhance outreach efforts
  5. Expand the pipeline from K-12 to apprenticeship and link to industry certifications
  6. Establish regular regionally based apprenticeship career fairs
  7. Convene industry specific Roundtable meetings between business, workforce, education, and apprenticeship sponsors
  8. Improve data tracking and reporting to provide real-time apprenticeship statistics
  9. Expand partnerships between apprenticeship and higher education to standardize curriculum and create formalized transfer opportunities.
  10. Develop opportunities to provide credit options for apprenticeship programs highlighting career pipelines for advancement within specific occupations
  11. Develop business model to present apprenticeship to non-traditional businesses interested in enhancing staff skill levels
  12. Ensure that apprenticeship programs maintain rigor and produce highly skilled employees
  13. Host annual Apprenticeship Conference
  14. Incentivize apprenticeship participation for Maryland businesses


In 2012, Maryland will celebrate 50 years of apprenticeship and a second summit will be held not only to celebrate our past, but to take these recommendations and develop a formalized business model to address each of the recommendations and establish goals and outcome measurements that will serve as our roadmap for the future. 

Ed. Note: Cross posted from the Department of Labor blog and The White House blog.

Secretary Solis with leaders from apprenticeship programs along with
administration officials to commemorate 100 years of apprenticeship. June 6, 2011.
 (by Photo by Department of Labor)

This morning I had the honor of hosting an event on the National Mall to commemorate 100 Years of Registered Apprenticeship.

First established by Wisconsin state legislation in 1911, the United States Congress instituted federal registered apprenticeships in 1937 when it passed the Fitzgerald Act. The bill’s sponsor, Connecticut congressman William J. Fitzgerald, worked in a foundry as a young man. 

The Fitzgerald Act protects the safety and welfare of apprentices and brings together employers and labor for the formulation of apprenticeship programs to train workers in specialized skills while earning a living wage.

Initially, Registered Apprenticeship programs existed mainly in the manufacturing, construction and utilities industries.  After World War II, Registered Apprenticeship began to expand into training of health and safety workers, including firefighters, police, and emergency medical technicians.  New generations are engaged in this unique ‘earn while you learn’ model in emerging industries such as information technology and health care, as well as culinary arts and child care.

Today as I commemorated this historic program, I was joined by inspiring young apprentices, including the Labor Department’s YouthBuild andJob Corps students, who are getting the skills they need to re-build this country – and their lives.  They demonstrate the necessity for registered apprenticeships now more than ever as we strive to get Americans back to work by providing job-seekers with the skills to land good-paying jobs, while linking employers with highly trained talent.

Secretary Solis at a brick laying apprenticeship booth on the National Mall.
June 6, 2011. (by photo by the Department of Labor)

From the stage, Kevin Burton of the National Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee moved me – and the gathered crowd — with the story of how apprenticeship brought her out of poverty and into the working class.

Ian Brady, a journeyman and United Association’s national apprentice of the year, shared with the YouthBuild and JobCorps participants present how he was able to earn a living while developing his trade through his apprenticeship.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: joint apprenticeships are one of this country’s best kept secrets.  But from the National Mall this morning, I was proud to let the secret out.

Hilda Solis is the Secretary of the Department of Labor