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Apprenticeship in Minnesota


Nearly 70 years ago, the Minnesota Division of Voluntary Apprenticeship had its first function to recognize the completion of formalized apprenticeship requirements. Homer J. Smith, then a professor of industrial education at the University of Minnesota, was not able to attend the March 14, 1942 event, but sent his sentiments in a letter declining the invitation.


“This meeting will, in fact, be ‘making Minnesota history’,” Smith said. “People may be a long time in sensing the economic, social and democratic values of apprenticeship. Fundamentally, apprenticeship is our best vocational training type. There is [no other type] so fortified with realness, timing and controls.”


Today, Minnesota continues to realize the many benefits of apprenticeship.


In Minnesota, informational and educational efforts continue today and have expanded to educate any and all potential stakeholders about the many benefits associated with registered apprenticeship. The Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry’s (DLI’s) Apprenticeship unit typically participates in more than 20 job fairs each year, as well as many other promotional events, including the Minnesota State Fair. Dissemination of apprenticeship information is ongoing at high schools, correctional facilities and Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) WorkForce Centers throughout the state. DLI also administers the Leveraging Educational Assistance Partnership (LEAP) Program, which encourages and promotes the participation of women and people of color in apprenticable trades and other occupations.


The DLI Apprenticeship unit regularly works with DEED to coordinate visits to WorkForce Centers throughout the state, promoting and disseminating information about apprenticeship programs and employment. Recent collaboration with the online job service program ISEEK has resulted in easily accessible and practical information about how to become an apprentice, with viable links to training coordinators.


New career opportunities, such as health care support specialist, low-voltage line installer and others, are being registered as newly apprenticeable occupations. Leveraging the opportunity for competency- and hybrid-based apprenticeships is also off to a great start in Minnesota:  DLI has recently approved standards for five trades using newly available models from the federal Office of Apprenticeship.


Just a few years ago, Minnesota’s apprenticeship programs had more than 10,000 apprentices. Yet, like the rest of the United States, those programs have been hit hard by the economic down-turn, particularly in the construction industry. Despite the difficult times, Minnesota has 305 registered programs and an average of 7,000 employed apprentices; more than 2,000 new apprentices were registered within the past year.


Even during tough economic times, apprenticeship has weathered well, proving its value and endurance. With the advent of exciting new regulations allowing for competency- and hybrid-based apprenticeship programs, the ultimate in unique, tactile-kinesthetic learning, education and knowledge acquisition is available for today’s and tomorrow’s workers.

Contact information:

Roslyn Robertson
Director Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry
Apprenticeship Unit
443 Lafayette Road
St. Paul, MN 55155-4303
Fax: 651/284-5740

Submitted by John Griffin

Missouri is an Office of Apprenticeship USDOL registered state


Missouri Apprenticeship staff participates in the Missouri Energy Workforce Consortium hosted by Missouri Department of Economic Development/Division of Workforce Development. Members are from Workforce Development, Office of Apprenticeship, Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, Technical & Community College Directors, and Energy Business leaders. To learn more go to the website at


On June 22 & 23, 2011, Kansas City Missouri hosted the 2011 SkillsUSA Competition. Missouri Apprenticeship staff participated as Judges in the Precision Machining Technology portion of the SkillsUSA Competition. The Precision Machining Technology Contest is one of 91 events of the competition. This year, there were an expected 5,600 contestants and over 1,500 judges at the week-long event. The SkillsUSA Championships is the showcase for the best career and technical students in the nation. Contests begin locally and continue through the state and national levels. This is a multi-million dollar event that occupies a space equivalent to 16 football fields. The philosophy of the Championships is to reward students for excellence, to involve industry in directly evaluating student performance and to keep training relevant to employers' needs.

SkillsUSA is a partnership of students, teachers and industry working together to ensure America has a skilled work force. SkillsUSA helps each student excel.

SkillsUSA is a national nonprofit organization serving teachers and high school and college students who are preparing for careers in trade, technical and skilled service occupations, including health occupations. It was formerly known as VICA (Vocational Industrial Clubs of America).

The motto of SkillsUSA is “Preparing for Leadership in the World of Work”.

Neil T. Perry

Missouri State Director

US Dept of Labor/Office of Apprenticeship

1222 Spruce St. Room 9.102E

St. Louis, MO. 63103

314 539-2522

FAX 314 539-3035

Submitted by: John Griffin



On Wednesday, August 31, the U.S. Department of Labor will be participating in the 2011 National Equal Opportunity Training Symposium to be held at the Crystal Gateway Marriott Hotel, 1700 Jefferson Davis Highway, Arlington, VA.  The EEO Training Symposium highlights some of the great work done by collaborations between the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Apprenticeship and Registered Apprenticeship sponsors, employers, labor management organizations, educational and community partners in improving and attracting qualified workers in highly skilled occupations.


These partnerships are necessary to ensure good jobs, great training and the development of a highly skilled workforce for America.  As a result, we would like to highlight the areas in which your organization has shown a vested interest in improving the skills of all Americans and how your institutions are developing the future workforce of tomorrow.  Accordingly, the Office of Apprenticeship workshop presents a discussion on partnerships with Registered Apprenticeship, diversity and the shaping of the American workforce for the 21st century.


We invite you to interact with us in this engaging ninety minute workshop, entitled, "Exploring New and Exciting Ways to Build Partnerships and pathways to Registered Apprenticeship", scheduled for Wednesday, August 31, 2011 from 9:00–10:30 AM.


It is our hope that you will be able to inspire other partnerships and organizations to do some of the great work that you have done, particularly in encouraging young people entering the job market and in revealing to others what it takes to be successful in today’s high paying, high skills jobs market.


You are invited to join us in this free for all workshop with engaging and exciting discussions on the business community, the workforce agencies and the making of the skilled American workforce for the 21st Century.


The Working Poor Families Project (WPFP), launched in 2002, is a national initiative that works to improve the ability of low-income workers to increase their wages.  This project partners with state non-profit organizations and supports their policy efforts to better prepare America’s working families for a more secure economic future.


WPFP recently issued a Summer 2011 policy brief, which states that Registered Apprenticeship is, “ripe for a rebirth as the nation’s premier pathway to higher education and sustainable careers across a wide range of industries, work settings, and geographic regions.”


The brief, “Improving Access to Apprenticeship: Strengthening State Policies and Practices,” written by David Altstadt, makes the case for increased utilization of Registered Apprenticeship; identifies some of the barriers to expansion; and offers some potential solutions and strategies to mitigate these barriers and promote increased employer usage of, and public-funding support for, the Registered Apprenticeship model.  From increased outreach to employers by us here in the federal Office of Apprenticeship, to better ties to the Education and Workforce systems and increased access for low-skilled, disadvantaged populations, this brief touches on several strategies that all of us here in the Registered Apprenticeship system have been focusing on to expand the “earn and learn’ model to help prepare America’s current and future workers.


Specific areas of interest include:


  • Need for increased outreach to employers and the need to create more awareness.  An effort long underway here in the Office of Apprenticeship and our State Apprenticeship Agency partners through increased focus on expansion into non-traditional industries such as transportation, energy, healthcare, information technology, and other emerging industries.
  • Need for more flexibility to encourage and convince employers in non-traditional industries that apprenticeship is a viable training option for their workforce.  The issuance of revised regulations in October of 2008 created greater flexibility and multiple training options.  New provisions allow for competency-based and hybrid models, increased use of distance learning technologies, and the use of interim credentials to track an apprentice’s progression through a program, among other options that aim to increase flexibility and expand access to non-traditional industries.
  • Need for better partnerships with, and connectivity to, post-secondary education, to allow apprentices to earn credits toward achieving an academic degree or certificate in addition to a Registered Apprenticeship Completion Certificate. The Office of Apprenticeship, through Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis’ Advisory Committee on Apprenticeship, is currently engaged with Community College leaders across the nation to help develop a framework for articulating Registered Apprenticeship classroom instruction achievements to college credits that will allow apprentices to earn post-secondary credits.
  • Need for increased awareness and promotion of Registered Apprenticeship within the publicly-funded workforce system’s One-Stop network, including the use of public workforce funds to support the training of apprentices and reduce the cost of related-instruction tuition costs.  Over the last three years, the Office of Apprenticeship has issued policy guidance and held several Action Clinics in regions throughout the U.S. to bring together the Workforce and Education Communities to promote the use of workforce system funding to support and promote the Registered Apprenticeship model for jobseekers who come through the One-Stop system in search of training and career assistance.


The brief goes on to discuss how these goals can be met and provides recommendations on how States, and the National Registered Apprenticeship system can expand the use of the apprenticeship model to help train our workforce.  It’s a great read and presents some thought provoking recommendations on how Registered Apprenticeship in the 21st Century can increase skill attainment in all industries and keep America competitive in today’s global economy.


Click the Link below to read the full policy brief. 

“Improving Access to Apprenticeship: Strengthening State Policies and Practices,”


David Altstadt is the Principal of David Altstadt Consulting, LLC, a private consulting firm that delivers in research, communications, and project management services for education and skills development initiatives

John V. Ladd
Administrator, Office of Apprenticeship

The Building and Construction Trades Department of the AFL-CIO has created a video feature of this June's Out Educate, Out Build, a DOL event celebrating 100 years of Registered Apprenticeship in America. The video features several highlights from that day on the National Mall, including  parts of the speech given by Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis, representatives from the various Building and Construction Trades, and other honored guests.