Editor's Note: A blog from Ron Leonard on the history and importance of Registered Apprenticeships.
"Not too long ago as I digitally wandered through images of the U.S. Census of 1860 for the City of Philadelphia, I wondered whether I was looking in the right neighborhood as I sought to learn more about my paternal grandfather’s grandfather. My search took me to an enumeration of the ship’s company of a sloop-of-war, the USS Pawnee, which was stationed at the Philadelphia Navy Yard, then located on a site where today a Coast Guard Station, a stretch of Interstate I-95, and a shopping plaza now exist. If the person aboard the Pawnee indeed was a part of my heritage it would belie the belief that I was the first in my family to serve in the Navy. But, the most remarkable thing about this search however occurred as I began to saunter about, in a manner of speaking, through the pages of the census records for the remainder of the ward.
Figuratively, I was strolling through streets, some of which no longer exist, looking at the inhabitants through the eyes of Isaiah St. Butler, the census worker who enumerated this district in July of 1860. He took what we would call a snap-shot of the inhabitants. This glimpse into the lives and livelihoods of the residents of Philadelphia’s Second Ward has much to tell us about the individuals, families, city, and country both then and now. For, along with the tabulation of mundanely matter-of-fact information, there can be seen facets of life that paint a picture that can both illuminate our understanding of both the past as well as contribute to how we confront the future. One of the facets that readily jumped out at me was the frequency of those who were listed as apprentices in the column where the “Profession, Occupation, and Trade of each person, male and female, over 15 years of age” were listed.
As with any large urban area of its day, one would expect to see diverse occupations that not only supported the local livelihood of the various inhabitants but those that contributed to a broader regional or national market as well. Tin Smith, Carpenter, Piano Maker and Machinist were among such occupations listed in this neighborhood. And those of the apprentices reflected both traditional skills of the day and what for that day were among the leading edge technologies that propelled America headlong through the Industrial Revolution. On a sampling of just a few census pages reflecting this small section of Philadelphia were Apprentices to an Umbrella Maker, an Oak Cooper, as well as a Molder, and a Printer. Also listed is an Apprentice to a Cordwainer, not a readily recognizable occupation in our 21st Century global marketplace. However, in the days long before lattes & laptops when a commute was often measured in how long it took you to walk to work at a local shop or factory, cordwainers were skilled craftsmen who today would be known as shoemakers. Given the number of cordwainers listed on just these few pages would lead me to believe that this neighborhood also included a shoe factory nearby.
Hindsight analysis of these few pages can fuel a wealth of foresight for anyone who may be pondering their own personal career direction or one who posits pedagogical practices in workforce training that have proven consistently effective. Apprenticeship served more than to train individuals who are reflected in these census records, but served also to provide skills training that were instrumental in maintaining and sustaining the economic vitality of southeastern Pennsylvania for generations to come. Because, beyond its immediate benefits, resulting in individual employment and skills attainment, it provided a host of intangible benefits that shaped families and successive generations by either re-enforcing or even instilling a tradition that is dependent upon a healthy work ethic and respect for the importance of career training & education. Half of the apprentices appearing on these sample pages were from among immigrant families who might not have had the ability to avail of such opportunities had they not come to America. Whether native-born or not, for each of those who underwent an apprenticeship, apprenticeship may well have served as a springboard to success that contributed to the success of subsequent generations in some way. This I can see in an example of my own paternal grandmother’s father. In 1880 he was an Apprentice Machinist, at age 15, to his father. Although he did not go on to become a Machinist, he did go on to a career as a Carpenter. And subsequently, his own son spent more than four decades as a tradesman as well.
Time and technologies have advanced in the past century and a half, and so have apprenticeships, specifically, Registered Apprenticeships. Registered Apprenticeship includes what is best about traditional apprenticeships and incorporates a related-instruction component that provides essential theory to enhance learning. Whether a traditional occupation, long recognized throughout history, or a newer 21st Century occupation in industries as diverse as biotechnology, information technology, aerospace, geospatial, energy, transportation, and more, Registered Apprenticeships offer benefits to employers and apprentices that are immediate & long-term, both tangible and intangible. Employers, Educators, and Workforce Development Professionals may well consider the impalpable benefits of a Registered Apprenticeship as a valuable plus when looking to develop solutions that significantly impact individuals, companies and communities."
The conference will take place May 19-20, 2010 in Tacoma, Washington. Visit the conference website for more information and registration details.
Liz says, "The keynote speaker is going to be Dr. Robert
Lerman, first Senior Fellow for Labor and Social Policy of the Urban
Institute, and American University Economics Professor, and frequently cited
expert supporting registered apprenticeship on the COP."
Registration is now open and there is a sweetheart deal for early registrations before February 14th!
As I sat at my keyboard today working on the usual day-to-day, somewhat mundane - yet necessary - projects that help us keep the ball rolling on Registered Apprenticeship activities, I came across the article below and it reminded how much Apprenticeship, and the apprentices that walk through its doors, have impacted our country over the last ohhhh….400 years.After reading it, I was energized to complete the task that I previously was sitting here complaining to myself about and realized that if it’s necessary to help promote Registered Apprenticeship, then it’s worth it!
A Punch Bowl that dates back to 1700 just sold at auction for $5.9 million dollars. And the guy who made it learned his craft through….you guessed it – An APPRENTICESHIP!
Take a quick look at the Punch Bowl and then read on to learn more about how Apprenticeship played its part in providing the skills needed to create it.Those skills are still being taught today.Not necessarily to make Punch Bowls.But in everything from modern buildings with solar panels, to manufacturing processes that create more efficiency and better quality, Registered Apprenticeship is still impacting how, and how well, thousands of U.S workers do their jobs today.
AMERICAN SILVER BOWL SETS RECORD AT AUCTION An American silver bowl (est., $400,000-$800,000) set a record of $5,906,500 at a Sotheby's auction last Friday. The punch bowl was made about 1700-1710 by Cornelius Kierstede and descended from the original Royalist owner to his present-day English relatives, who revealed its existence in 2009.
Amazing...truly amazing. So much more than a punch bowl. Some background on Kierstede:
Kierstede was born in New York City on Christmas Day 1674, into the third generation of a Dutch-American family. After serving an APPRENTICESHIP, he began working as a silversmith and registered as a freeman of New York City on July 26, 1698
Please visit http://www.dol.gov/budget/ on Monday, February 1 at 12:30 p.m. EST for the release of the 2011 DOL Budget information, including detailed budget documentation, videos from the Secretary and other DOL leaders, and live chats. DOL will also host a live Q&A session with our leadership to answer your questions about our 2011 budget:
Monday’s Web chat will begin at 1:00 p.m. EST:
Secretary Solis: 1 p.m. EST
Workforce Investment: 2 p.m. EST
Worker Protections: 2:30 p.m. EST
Choose one of these four easy ways to participate in the Web chat:
Enter your question directly into the live chat window found at the link above
Use the hashtag #DOLBUDGET on Twitter
Call our National Contact Center at 1-866-487-2365
These are tough economic times but there's never been a more exciting time for Registered Apprenticeship,
the public workforce system, education and other partners to collaborate to get more Americans re-skilled and
ready to compete for good-paying jobs as our nation recovers and puts people back to work.