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The Small Business Administration (SBA) has launched a Regional Clusters Initiative that focuses on accelerating small business growth and job creation through clusters that leverage and align a region’s economic, business and workforce assets.  Regional clusters are networks of organizations and businesses in a geographic area that grow through increased collaboration, efficiency and innovation.


SBA has released a Request for Proposals (RFP) for entities that lead existing regional clusters. SBA intends to provide resources to 10-15 regional clusters nationwide to provide business training, counseling, mentoring, commercialization and technology transfer services, and other services that support the growth and development of small businesses.  The due date for proposals is August 13, 2010. 


SBA is requiring that proposals describe efforts to build and nurture public-private partnerships aimed at growing the cluster.  Key partners include, among others, workforce investment boards, community organizations, Registered Apprenticeship programs, institutions of higher education (including community colleges), and non-profit organizations.  Proposals must also identify the unique assets and competitive advantages in the region, including the educational and training programs designed to develop a skilled workforce for the cluster.


Although additional workforce development resources are not available through this RFP, SBA’s Regional Cluster Initiative will create opportunities for workers to find and retain good jobs in the selected regional clusters.  Therefore, the Employment and Training Administration encourages workforce investment boards and other workforce development organizations to partner with entities that will be submitting proposals for the Regional Cluster Initiative.


More information on SBA’s Regional Cluster Initiative is available at

On January 12 and 13, 2010, the Office of Apprenticeship (OA) held two listening sessions on three areas of focus facing Registered Apprenticeship over the next year.  The listening sessions, held for National Labor Leaders on January 12, 2010, and for Employers and Industry Associations on January 13, 2010, focused on Green Jobs, Healthcare, and Other High Growth Industries; Pre-Apprenticeship; and Partnerships with the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) and the Education system. In addition, on June 11, 2010, OA held one additional public webinar which specifically focused on Pre-apprenticeship.  As a follow up, OA has issued a report to highlight the comments, observations and major themes that surfaced during the sessions, which will be used to help guide its strategies around these key areas.  The report is now available to be viewed and downloaded here on the Community of Practice.

As many of may know by now, the Registered Apprenticeship community lost one of its own last month.  On June 24, Operating Engineers Local 302 apprentice Vanessa Downing, 26, was killed in a work-related accident in Seattle, WA.  Vanessa was working as a welder and apprentice on the Seattle waterfront at the time of the accident.  First and foremost, the Registered Apprenticeship community extends their deepest sympathies to Vanessa’s family, friends and co-workers.  The news of this tragedy shocked us all, and though many of us didn’t know her personally, her story has re-affirmed our commitment to providing safe training opportunities to all of our Registered Apprentices.  

We often refer to the Registered Apprenticeship community as a family, and in this case, our extended family has lost someone who represented all that is good and right with Registered Apprenticeship.  Vanessa’s life had its share of ups and downs.  She came to the Local Operating Engineers Local 302 as someone looking for a fresh start.  From all accounts, Vanessa dedicated herself to the job, and dove into her training with the same spirit that she had used to overcome her own personal struggles.  I encourage you to learn more about Vanessa’s determination to make a better life in the July 1 Seattle Times article that ran following her death.  

Through her efforts and the opportunities she received through IUOE Local 302 & 612’s Heavy Equipment Mechanic Apprenticeship, Vanessa had turned her life around, bought her first home and was weeks from completing her Apprenticeship to become a journey-level Heavy Equipment Mechanic.  She would have been only the second woman to complete the Local’s program under its current standards.  Friend Scott Bennett, who Vanessa attended program-related classroom training with said, “Everyone I’ve spoken with who met Vanessa said they were impacted in a positive way by her one way or another.”  Scott also told of how Vanessa had a habit of painting or marking her tools with pink paint as a way of ensuring none of her male counterparts would ever be tempted to borrow her tools.  Vanessa told him the trick worked “because no man would be caught with a pink tool in his toolbox.”

Last weekend, former Local 302 classmates and friends Josh Gepner and Scott Bennett, organized a Memorial Ride/Drive Benefit/Bike/Rod/whatever u got benefit in Bothell, WA to honor Vanessa’s life and help support her family through this difficult time.  The benefit ride and follow-up Bar-B-Que brought together an estimated 75-100 motorcyclists who led a mile-long procession that included pink construction ribbons tied to antennas and handlebars in honor of Vanessa.  The event raised over $3,700, with all proceeds going to Vanessa’s family.  The organizers wanted to thank all of the Trades in the area for their support and asked that we extend a special thanks to Tami St. Paul and Sandy Winters for helping make the event a huge success.  

Vanessa’s story hit home for so many of us because her journey was emblematic of what Registered Apprenticeship can do for anyone that is willing to commit to the training, long hours and hard work necessary to become a skilled journeyworker in their chosen field.  The safety of our apprentices is always a priority for any of our programs across all industries.  This tragedy has only increased our dedication to ensuring that every possible precaution is taken to avoid accidents like this one from happening again.  Vanessa Downing was an inspiration to all those who knew her and will remain our inspiration moving forward as we work to provide the safest, best training available to all of our Registered Apprentices. 

Florida's Apprenticeship System







Current RAPIDS statistics appear below for the current FFY:



FFY 09-10

New programs registered:


Total active programs:


Total active apprentices:


Total completions:


Total new apprentices:



As you can see we are graduating about the same number of apprentices that we have been bringing into the system.  However, we are still losing ground rapidly through cancellations of the apprentices.  This time last year we had 12,810 apprentices so in just one year we have suffered a net loss of about 3,000 apprentices as a result of the economy. 


Current info


Public hearings for the draft code revision were conducted in Tallahassee, Orlando and Miami on June 14, 16 and 17, respectively.  [The presentation was combined with 21st Century Apprenticeship presentations.] Comments from the public and from USDOL are now being reviewed and any necessary changes to the draft will be made. The resulting draft code will be resubmitted for final review by the General Counsel, Chancellor and Commissioner and then be scheduled for the Board review.



Our office has partnered with the Florida Association for Career and Technical Education in the development and delivery of a curriculum for apprenticeship instructors.  Target date for having the prototype course online was April 15, 2010.  However, programming delays pushed the delivery to mid-June.  The program is now complete and registration will be online by July 1.



The Collaboration for Success Clinic was conducted in Gainesville on April 21st.  A one day meeting rather than the originally planned two day meeting was held in order to obtain participation from more partners.  Subsequent to that meeting the contractor delivered his report and it is attached to this email


 A regional planning workshop was conducted June 28-30 in Orlando with field staff to develop pilot project plans as suggested by the Clinic participants.  Regional plans are due for submittal July 16. Part of the process at this workshop was to develop ideas for presentation materials for the contractor to prepare for publishing.


A Green Technology Workshop was conducted in Orange Park by the contractor.  The report on that meeting has been delivered by the contractor and is attached with this report. 


Links to Employ Florida Marketplace have been placed on the apprenticeship website.  A link from Employ Florida Marketplace to Apprenticeship has been secured as well.




The contractor’s report on the Collaboration for Success Clinic has given us a general direction for future action. The regional plans that will grow out of the staff conference at the end of June will constitute our direct action plan for pilot work around the state. We delayed production of materials for use by the staff until after the June meeting in order to better assess the needs. The contractor will generate those materials during July and August for contracted production and distribution to regional staff for their use.  Presentations regarding the Collaboration for Success Clinic and its importance to the concept of 21st Century Apprenticeship will be made to the Florida Apprenticeship Conference, which is the annual statewide meeting of joint program sponsors, the Open Shop Apprenticeship Administrators Association, the State Apprenticeship Advisory Council and the Florida Apprenticeship Association.


The contractor will also conduct another of the quarterly green apprenticeship workshops and produce the required reports for inclusion on our website.


The instructor course should be operational and, assuming it is working properly, will be offered to the apprenticeship community.  It will be on line, free of charge and monitored by the Florida Association for Career and Technical Education.  Certificates of training will be produced for completers as evidence for meeting code requirements during quality assessments.


The final revision of the state code will be done in consultation with the General Counsel’s Office and our legislative assistant.  It will be scheduled for review by the Board.


Work will continue on the process of assembling the documentation required for recertification of the Florida Department of Education as a state apprenticeship agency. 


Rob Grisar

Florida Dept. of Education

Program Director

Apprenticeship Office

1 North First St., #12

Cocoa Beach, FL 32931

Office 321-868-7952

Mobile 321-432-7352

Submitted by John Griffin

Skills Shortages: You make the call!


Over the past couple of weeks, both the New York Times (NYT) and Wall Street Journal (WSJ) ran articles that imply the US is not properly preparing our workers for the jobs that exist in today’s marketplace. Does the Registered Apprenticeship (RA) community have a role in addressing the dilemma below?

You make the call!


In the July 1, 2010 NYT (Factory jobs return, but employers find skills shortage), M Rich suggests that there plenty of people applying for jobs but there is a mismatch between the kinds of skilled workers need and the ranks of the unemployed. To this end, workers lack advanced skills or, in other words, higher levels of technology. Yet, a Cleveland laboratory seeks to hire workers with these “advanced skills” at $10-15 per hour. Might it be that a “skilled” worker—seeking a career vs. a job—does not want to work for peanuts?

You make the call!


In the July 9, 2010 WSJ (A new Detroit rises in India’s south), E Bellman comments that five well-known car firms are spending billions setting up shop in Chennai, India in order to establish a small-car export hub. An educated labor force was cited as one of the factors that drew a US-based company to the area. It was so noted that with an abundance of “cheap” engineers, these firms can keep their factory robots humming. So do US engineers lack the skills to run robots or do these companies (as indicated in the story above) covet cheap (but well educated) labor?

You make the call!


Once again, RA can provide an earn while you learn model that can address this nation’s need for skilled workers. However, if RA professionals do not speak-up, it seems that RA will continue to be left out of the workforce development equation despite its history of success. Like it or not, the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) is akin to an industrial policy. The WIA is currently in the reauthorization process.  Going forward, RA must be recognized as a FULL partner in the WIA or it will be further marginalized!

Are you willing to make the call?

Submit a career video - DOL Career Video Challenge

It's not too late to show America what it takes!
There is still time to enter your video in the U.S. Department of Labor Career Videos for America's Job Seekers Challenge!

Deadline extended to
August 20, 2010!

The winning video in each category will receive $1,000!
image of technician reparing a wind turbine linking to a video entitled A Day in the Life of Wind Turbine Service Technician. Click here to go to the video challenge web site to see all the videos that have been entered in the competition
Biofuels Processing Technicians
Computer Support Specialists
Energy Auditors
Heating, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration Mechanics and Installers/Testing Adjusting and Balancing TAB Technicians
Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurse
Medical Assistants
Medical and Clinical Lab Technicians including Cytotechnologists
Medical Records and Health Info Technicians including Medical Biller and Coder
Plumbers, Pipefitters, and Steamfitters
Radiological Technologists and Technicians
Solar Thermal Installers and Technicians
Weatherization Installers and Technicians
Wind Turbine Service Technicians
image of medical office linking to video entitled: Medical Assistant Video. Click here to go to the video challenge web site to see all the videos that have been entered in the competition

Phase One - Produce and Submit a Video
May 10 to August 20, 2010

Phase Two - Category Finalists Selected
August 23 to September 10, 2010

Phase Three - Public Voting Open
September 13 to October 8, 2010

Phase Four - Winning Videos Announced
October 11 to October 29, 2010

In today’s tight employment market the publicly funded workforce investment system has the responsibility of maximizing unemployed workers’ opportunities for rapid reemployment by quickly connecting them to the full scope of available jobs.  The Employment and Training Administration (ETA) of the Department of Labor (DOL) meets this responsibility through multiple means, including creative, non-traditional methods and is hosting a challenge - the “Career Videos Challenge”!
image of a male in front of computer display linking to a video entitled: Average Day for a Computer Support Specialist. Click here to go to the video challenge web site to see all the videos that have been entered in the competition
ETA has identified 15 high-wage and high- growth occupations DOL is excited to share with the public! Members of the public are invited to produce short videos focusing on the daily activities, necessary Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities (KSAs), as well as the career pathways of one of these 15 occupations.

Your association was identified as having an existing relationship with individuals in one or more of these targeted occupations, and we are hopeful that you will assist individuals who are looking for promising new career paths by promoting the Career Video Challenge to your membership and encouraging their participation in the Challenge.  Your association could help achieve the goal of boosting public and workforce system awareness and understanding of these occupations.

As Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis states, “People need to know what a job looks like and what the work entails before they make the decision to switch careers or enter training leading to a good job in a new occupation.” 

If you do not wish to receive any further emails about the Career Video Challenge, please reply to this message with the word "remove" in the subject line.

-- U.S. Department of Labor Video Challenge Team