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Guest speakers.  Panelists.  Hotel negotiations.  Contracts.  Bureaucratic red tape.  Theme development.  Agenda development.  Agenda revisions.  Invitations.  Keynote speaker negotiations.  Budgets.  Event logo.  Supply orders.  Federal approvals.  State approvals.  Sponsorships.  Signage.  RSVPs.  Per diem restrictions.  Headcounts.  Menu decisions.  Funding snafus.  Binder contents.  Webinars for panelists and speakers.  Agenda revisions (again).  Travel restrictions.  Team assignments.  Facilitator assignments.  Facilitator training.  Printing snafus.  Planning meetings.   Moderator notes.  On-site event management.  Staff assignments.  Biographies.  PowerPoints.  Background music decisions.  Keynote speaker transportation arrangements.  Cancellations.  Breakout room problems.  Last-minute trips to Walmart for overlooked supplies.  Three months of planning.  Final four weeks of insanity.  12 hour work days.  Sleep deprivation.  Untold trips to Starbucks for caffeine infusions.  Dark under eye circles.  Exhaustion.

Needless to say, I have a newfound respect for conference and event planners.  It’s been two days since it ended, and I’m still exhausted.

The Louisiana Apprenticeship Action Clinic was held in Baton Rouge from October 27 – 29, 2009.  By all appearances, it was a success.  I modeled it (some might say plagiarized) after the USDOL regional action clinics that were held early this year.  My experience at the Dallas clinic had such impact that I didn’t feel that it was necessary to reinvent the wheel.  Obviously, it wasn’t exactly the same, but similar in content, length, purpose, and schedule.  I’m still a little in shock that it’s all over with.  It was like a wedding.  You spend months preparing for it, go through the pre-wedding frenzy, then the actual  wedding is over in the blink of an eye.  This action clinic felt remarkably similar, although the outcome significantly better than that of my wedding, because I didn’t end up paying thousands to a lawyer to get me out of the deal.

The jury is still out, but I feel certain that there will be significant change as a result of this clinic.  There were nine regional teams that in total represented the entire state, and each team was provided the tools and information needed to create an action plan to increase the level of utilization and integration of registered apprenticeship in their region.  There were panel discussions on resource alignment, partnership development, pre-apprenticeships, and strategic planning.  There were both federal and state representatives that participated in order to accentuate the need for registered apprenticeship to have greater visibility and affiliations with our one-stop centers, community and technical colleges and public school systems. 

The first day or so, I was very concerned about my audience.  I had gone to great lengths to make the clinic fun and encouraged them to relax, contribute, and take advantage of the opportunity to have an open forum for discussion.  All I seemed to be getting were blank faces staring back at me.  Questions from the audience?  None, initially.  I had the most knowledgeable experts on registered apprenticeship and WIA in the region, and not one question.  Well, that’s not entirely true.  One of the workforce investment board directors felt sorry for me, and raised his hand to ask a couple of questions he already knew the answer to.  God love him.

Then, there was a turning point.  My keynote speaker addressed the group the morning of the second day of the clinic.  I’ve written about him before in this forum, The ESAC Diaries Part 1.  Mark Breslin, President of Breslin Strategies Inc., conducted presentations at the Eastern Seaboard Apprenticeship Conference last May, where I had the distinct pleasure of meeting and hearing him for the first time.  I was impressed then, and even more so now.  After his inspiring and thought-provoking speech that heralded the virtues of registered apprenticeship in his very distinct and compelling style, Mark transformed that room.  They loved him.  He was unknown to most of the audience since he doesn’t traditionally address workforce development professionals on the state and local level, so he was fresh, funny, cutting, engaging, and most importantly, right.  The audience was a combination of shocked and relieved, because they felt someone was finally putting words (and appropriate ones at that) to what they see and deal with on a daily basis. 

From that point forward, the clinic was lively.  Part of it was due to the fact that the teams had spent some time in breakouts together, therefore were getting more comfortable with each other and the environment.  Despite my attempts for the past two years to get many of them to see the value in registered apprenticeship, it took someone like Mark and federal gurus to get them to finally believe or understand the wares I have been peddling all this time.  The message was received loud and clear.  It was more than I could have hoped for.

There is one thing I did not anticipate.  I was so focused on the action clinic itself that I never contemplated the aftermath.  The regional action plans were fantastic, but those action plans include assignments for me, including the development of a stand-alone website for Louisiana Registered Apprenticeship, the development of a one or two day marketing conference early next year, multiple follow-up meetings across the state, and even a few requests to make the action clinic a yearly event.

I hope USDOL has more funding in their back pocket. . .


*** Although I fear this will end up sounding like a cheesy Emmy award speech, I would like to take this opportunity to thank those that provided so much support in the development of this clinic.  John Ladd, Joseph Juarez, Laura Ginsburg, Kenya Huckaby, Joseph Jenkins, Steve Opitz, David Gaither, Marilyn Brandenburg, Loretta Shelley, Roger Lash, Curt Eysink, Carey Foy, Howard Sanders, Cathy Breaux, Kelly Ebey, Greg Declouet, Lydia Crockett, Rosalyn Cousin, Monica Taylor, Ava Dejoie, Rose Johnson, Keith Brand, Lynn Diaz-Button, Amy Holcomb, Eric Hatfield, D.J. Berger, Mark Breslin and all of the apprenticeship program sponsors that participated and contributed in some way.  I couldn’t have pulled it off without a great team to make it all come together, and for that I am very grateful. ***

The Washington DC Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee has a blog series featuring five of their apprentices.  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.

Adam Osielski  is currently a 5th-year apprentice with a mid-sized electrical contractor. You can find him working in downtown DC on a $220 million construction project.  Click on Adam's blog to learn more about his experience as an electrical apprentice.  This week his task is to light up an elevator machine room...sound simple?  Read his blog and find out for yourself...

YA - The Partnership perspective from Skills for Health on Vimeo.

Check out how Young Apprenticeships support the healthcare sector in the UK.  Let us know what's happening around healthcare apprenticeships in your area...

I was asked to submit articles on Apprenticeship and thought that I would give an opportunity for everyone to hear from each state as to the status of Apprenticeship in the country.  I am going to try submit on "article" each month and to be fair, I will do it alphabetically.  The following is from the state of Alabama, which was submitted to me by the Office of Apprenticeship State Director.

Presently the state has 129 registered apprenticeship programs with approximately 5000 apprentices actively enrolled in recognized apprentice training programs.  The state has two technical representatives assigned to cover the State:  Mr. Gregory W. Collins, State Director and Mr. Rowland Dixon, Apprenticeship and Training Representative. The state office is located in Birmingham, Alabama.  This office is also responsible for The Southeastern International Brotherhood of Boilermakers headquartered in Ruskin, Florida that covers 21 states and 25 locals with approximately 1600 active apprentices. This office prides itself as being customer orientated.


Presently the Alabama Office of Apprenticeship is working with the Alabama Natural Gas Association and the Alabama State Plumbers/Gas Fitters Examining Board to develop a Gas Apprentice Career Track based on the apprenticeship training model. This program is designed for entry-level employees of the natural gas industry.  This Gas Apprentice Career Track program will be a workforce development program.  Apprentices will be required to hold an Apprentice Card, issued by the board, throughout training.  The Gas Apprentice Career Track program will provide a minimum of 144 hours of classroom instruction. The intent of the program is to standardize curriculum coupled with job training throughout the state. 


Alabama has many outstanding Registered Apprenticeship programs operating throughout the State.  Two programs to be highlighted are AUSTAL USA and Mercedes-Benz U.S. International, Inc.


AUSTAL USA is a ship building company located in Mobile, Alabama that truly realizes that building a skilled workforce does not happen overnight or by waving a magic wand. A quality training programs comes from within the company by allowing employees to buy-in and support the Registered Apprenticeship Model.  This company has grown from a few hundred employees with only five apprentices five years ago to over a 1000 employees with over 100 active apprentices today.  They have expanded their apprenticeship program from one occupation originally to five occupations presently.  This program is providing the community with good paying jobs and documented skill levels that will stay with the completing apprentice forever.  A certificate issued from the United States Department of Labor, Office of Apprenticeship identifying the occupation and the attainment of journeyman level serves as a valuable incentive to the business and its employees.  


This program’s success has generated interest by other shipyards in the Gulf Coastal Shipbuilding Industry. Earlier this year the industry requested the National Office of Apprenticeship and Mr. Gregory Collins, Alabama State Director, to come down to and conduct an apprenticeship presentation to the Ship Building Association.


Mercedes-Benz U.S. International, Inc., at Vance, Alabama has an outstanding Registered Apprenticeship program as well.  This German based company understands and appreciates the value of investing in employee development and training through the registered apprenticeship model.  Training for the occupation of Industrial Maintenance is conducted at the Bill Taylor Institute (previously known as the Mercedes-Benz Institute) and is a state-of-the-art training facility. Alabama Industrial Development Training (AIDT) has provided the classroom training for Mercedes Benz since the original development and registration of the program in September 1997.  Apprenticeship Programs are designed as a dual system of learning.  "Dual" because training is provided at locations in the Mercedes Benz plant and in the classroom at the Bill Taylor Institute. This system offers participants the unique opportunity to get to know industry first-hand and acquire an education at the same time. A company and training program committed to giving back to the community. The program also serves as a template and provides training to Tier One and Tier Two automotive suppliers in the State.


Registered apprenticeship has been revitalized in the State of Alabama through the continued efforts of the Office of Apprenticeship staff. Customers, partners and stakeholders are recognizing the value of the training model and have an expectation that quality technical assistance from the Office of Apprenticeship will bring value to their training goals.


Next Month I will submit an article on Alaska

John Griffin

Recently I was made aware of a website that I found interesting and thought I would share it with everyone.  The website is which explains that in New Jersey an apprentice in the building and construction trades can be eligible to apply apprenticeship training towards a college degree.  The site has all the information and requirements along with contact information.  While looking at the site I asked a few OA State Directors if they had similar setups in their states and I found that:

The College of Southern Nevada offers a Certificate of Achievement and Associate of Applied Science Degree for 16 different trade union apprenticeship program.  Some programs even have different emphasis; such as the Operating Engineers have Equipment Operators, Heavy Duty Repairperson, Machinists, Oil Well Drillers, and Surveyors.  Each emphasis has an Associate of Applied Science Degree.  If you want more detailed information you can contact Deana Zelinik directly at 702-651-4163.

All the Building Trades Apprentices in Indiana are eligible to receive Associates Degrees from IVY Tech Community College.

In New Mexico, there are articulation agreements with Central New Mexico Community College for an Associates Degree.

The Community College of Rhode Island also gives credit from the Apprenticeship Program in a degree program.

In Alaska,  Apprentices can enroll into the AAS program as apprentices and it links directly to a Bachelors of Science in Technology (BST). this all happens through the Community and Technical College, of the University of Alaska system. The apprenticeship AAS program is underutilized so we are trying to jumpstart it and get some testimonials generated. An 8000 hour apprenticeship is worth 38 credits, and a 4000 hour apprenticeship is worth 19 credits, and so on. So far, the response from employers has been favorable - the degree will add value to the person and to their company.
The above are just a few of the states that recognize the value of registered apprenticeship and the experience it offers towards a college degree.  If you know of additional states, you might want to continue this blog to inform others of the availability or email me at and I will add it in.  You could also contact the OA State Director for the state in question and they can give you additional input.

Editor's Note:  A message from the Office of Apprenticeship Administrator- John Ladd announcing the redesigned and enhanced Community of Practice.

In the Spring of 2009 we launched the Registered Apprenticeship Community of Practice (CoP) and asked all of you to join us to help build an online community where we could learn from one another, share successful approaches and models, and advance Registered Apprenticeship efforts and activities.  Thanks to you, our community has grown to become a nationwide network of resources, articles, best practices and personal stories and experiences specific to Registered Apprenticeship.

Over the last six months we have learned a lot about what the CoP could and should be for its members.  We took that new knowledge and worked to tweak the CoP to make it a user-friendly resource that we hope becomes part of your everyday routine in sharing, discussing and implementing programs and initiatives that use Registered Apprenticeship as a way to prepare workers for 21st century careers.  We are excited to launch this revamped version of the CoP, which includes a new design, improved functionality and navigation, enhanced opportunities for interaction, and fresh and timely content.  The redesigned Community now offers the following new features:

  • E-lert capability to provide you with daily updates about new CoP content;
  • An RSS feed to provide you with immediate news and image gallery updates;
  • A live chat feature that allows you to discuss ideas, challenges, solutions with your colleagues and with experts across the country…anytime, on-demand;
  • New resources related to “hot topics” such as green jobs and Recovery Act activities;
  • Reorganized menus and quick searches to help you find more targeted resources, faster, and in a multitude of ways;
  • Access to our Registered Apprenticeship communities on Facebook and Twitter;
  • Targeted Community space for stakeholder groups such as apprentices and sponsors;
  • Enhanced industry-specific tools and resources in sectors such as aerospace, geospatial technology, and healthcare; and
  • A wide array of fresh content, including videos, tutorials, marketing and outreach materials, and promising practices.

I also want to take this opportunity to alert you to a just-issued report, titled “The Greening of Registered Apprenticeship: An Environmental Scan of the Impact of Green Jobs on Registered Apprenticeship and Implications for Workforce Development,” which highlights the trends and activities of industries expected to drive the emerging green economy.  The report findings were compiled through a series of interviews with leaders in Registered Apprenticeship, including businesses and labor management organizations, to help identify the steps they are taking to prepare the U.S. workforce for the demands of a green economy.  The report provides a great opportunity to better understand the impact of a green economy and help direct policy and program development for green-related initiatives, and is now available through the Registered Apprenticeship CoP.  We encourage you to Read the Report and use it as a resource as you develop green strategies in your state or region.

We hope this redesign and the resources within the CoP meet your needs and expand the ability of all of us to share knowledge, collaborate and develop workforce solutions that keep U.S. workers the most skilled and most competitive workforce in the world.  We encourage you to sign up for daily e-lerts, real-time RSS feed updates, and other Community notifications.  The strength and usefulness of our Registered Apprenticeship Community comes from the contributions of its many members – so we hope you’ll continue to connect, engage, and innovate!

Thank you for your engagement and support.

John V. Ladd
Administrator, Office of Apprenticeship
U.S. Department of Labor – Employment and Training Administration

De-Skilling: A Misguided Strategy?


Stimulus funds have created much fervor towards the Greening of America. Unfortunately, as some win…others lose! To this end, while the US-DOL’s recent wage determination for the occupations highlighted below may appear appealing, they pose the unintended consequence of negatively impacting the trades that have traditionally performed these tasks (i.e., carpenters, electricians, plumbers, and sheet metal workers). Not to mention, shutting out non-traditionals (i.e., women and minorities) from true career pathways. In nearly every community across the US, each of the trades mentioned above have long-established US-DOL Registered Apprenticeship programs that provide career ladders and lattices with living wage and benefit packages versus low paying dead-end jobs. When the ARRA funds dry-up, where will these so-called Weatherization Installers and Technicians go? Equally important, how will these workers be trained…and by whom? In the interest of delivering a quality product to the taxpayers of this nation, it is high time agencies within the same Department coordinate their efforts in a manner consistent with promoting Registered Apprenticeship as a viable post-secondary option!

Green Occupation:
47-4099.03 - Weatherization Installers and Technicians

Green occupations will likely change as a result of the green economy. Green economy activities and technologies are increasing the demand for occupations, shaping the work and worker requirements needed for occupational performance, or generating new and emerging occupations.

Weatherization Installers and Technicians is a Green New & Emerging occupation — the impact of green economy activities and technologies is sufficient to create the need for unique work and worker requirements, which results in the generation of new occupations.



The Washington DC Joint  Apprenticeship and Training Committee has a blog series featuring five of their apprentices.  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. 

Mark Thompson talks about his summer as a journeyman...

"It has been an interesting summer as a first year Journeyman. The challenges have been real, and the responsibilities--real but rewarding. I find myself referring back into what I have learned in dealing with some scenarios I see on the job. Just having a solid foundation of electrical concepts to stand on, a uniform way to operate...and the "network" is helpful.

The "network" is a collection of my classmates, lead Journeyman, foreman, project managers, superintendents....even a safety guy who I can call on for advice in situations where I have questions....or the other way around.....or even just to say "hey" and laugh with for a second...."  Click here to hear more about Mark's experience.

Check out this Job Doc Blog that talks about employment-related questions from looking for a job to dealing with the one you have.  I found this Q&A yesterday and like Massachusett's approach.  How are you dealing with these job seekers who are looking for retraining money?

Q. I have been in hourly jobs that don't pay anything. I need a career with a future, and I don't want to go back to school. I need a skill, and I was told there is money for retraining available. Where is the retraining money, and for what kinds of jobs?

A. Many people are looking at opportunities to retrain, retool, and reframe their careers. There is grant money available and there are training programs to be found. The Massachusetts Department of Workforce Development ( has information on a broad range of training programs. You can search their site by many criteria including occupation, or key word. There are job training programs, and an education reward loan program for over 70 occupations. Contact your local Career Center for eligibility and information about the courses.

In addition, the US Department of Labor/Education and Training Administration has provided $300,000 grant to give low income women access to job training in the construction field. "BRICC", Building Real Careers in Construction, offers a free 6 week pre-apprenticeship training program sponsored by Action for Boston Community Development ( and The Building Trades Directors Association. The program offers training in math, computer applications and other critical skills needed for a successful career in the building trades. You will also be exposed to a range of trade careers paths including plumber, electrician, painter, bricklayer, and carpenter, and provided with information on joining a union. This pre-apprenticeship program prepares women for apprenticeship programs, with compensation starting at approximately $17 an hour.

The Massachusetts Division of Apprenticeship and Training reports that only 4% of registered apprentices in the building trades are female and federal and state regulations have a goal of increasing that to 25% which promises opportunity for women in the years ahead.

Women interested in qualifying for Boston-area apprenticeships can contact ABCD. According to Brad Howard (, Orientation Sessions are Tuesdays at 11:00 at 19 Temple Place in Boston, and the next program will begin in January 2010. The six week program runs from 8 am to 3 pm weekdays.

Owens Community College and The Source are using stimulus money to train people for entry-level healthcare jobs, green jobs and pre-apprenticeship programs. To apply, call the Source at (419) 213
-JOBS.  126 students are in the first wave of training and over 600 slots are still available.  Know someone looking for a job???  Send them to the Source...
One of my favorite parts of the Action Clinics (and of this CoP!) was getting to hear from apprentices themselves - their stories are always fresh, candid, compelling, and inspiring.  So I was excited to read this piece about Josh Coale, an apprentice who won top honors at United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipe Fitting Industry of the United States and Canada's International Apprenticeship Competition.  Mr. Coale, a member of the Sprinkler Fitters Local 669 in Kentucky, will be honored this week at the Kentucky State Building and Construction Trades Council Biennial Convention.  Kudos to Kentucky leaders for celebrating Mr. Coale's achievements and sharing his story!

Mr. Coale's story is particularly interesting because he is a veteran who served five years in the Marine Corps before entering Registered Apprenticeship through the Helmets to Hardhats program.  Helmets to Hardhats is a nonprofit program that connects transitioning military servicemembers to family-supporting career opportunities in the construction industry.  I know that many of us in the CoP are interested in the intersections and opportunities related to veterans and Registered Apprenticeship, and it's great to see this area getting attention in the press.

I'd welcome thoughts on how others are highlighting the accomplishments of apprentices, and on how they are tapping transitioning servicemembers, and other talent pools, for Registered Apprenticeship!

Check out the Washington State Building & Construction Trades Council Movie. Hear from real apprentices the benefits of earning while you learn.  Love the motto!