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Alaska's Apprenticeship
Posted on November 19, 2009 by John Griffin
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The second of a series of articles about each state’s apprenticeship system, this article is on Alaska.  John Hakala the State Director was kind enough to supply me with the details on Alaska which presents specific challenges to apprenticeship because of it’s size and the remote areas of the state. It is significant to note there are only two people servicing the entire state of Alaska’s apprenticeship system.


At the end of October 2009 Alaska had 313 active program sponsors. During the year the USDOL Office of Apprenticeship developed and registered 51 new programs in the following industries or sectors. In construction (23), healthcare (6), advanced manufacturing (5), mining (5), homeland security (3), transportation (4), automotive (2) and energy (3).  At the end of October 2009 Alaska had 2273 active apprentices; 731 new apprentices for the year, and 248 completions.


 The federal Office of Apprenticeship is the registration agency and has two full time technical staff. They work closely with the Alaska Department of Labor & Workforce Development, who in 2007 established a State Office of Apprenticeship. In 2008 we trained 25 Apprenticeship Specialists within the statewide One-Stop Job Center system to market and expand the registered apprenticeship system. With ongoing coaching and mentoring by federal staff, the state Apprenticeship Specialists developed nearly half of the new programs registered in FY2009.


Based on a 1996 – 2007 study, the top ten occupations in 2007 were electrician, construction craft laborer, plumber, pipe fitter, carpenter, operating engineer, power lineman, sheet metal workers, telecommunications installers, and building maintenance repairer. Note that 55 percent of the programs registered in FY2007 were in occupations outside of the construction industry.


Associate of Applied Science Degree in Apprenticeship Technologies: Apprentice graduates historically transition to positions of greater responsibility within their companies. Representatives are working with the University of Alaska and Alaska Department of Labor & Workforce Development to promote the AAS degree to companies and training providers who employ recent apprentice graduates. Apprentice completers can receive up to 38 technical credits for their apprenticeship for a nominal fee. They also need to complete the 15 credits of general education, 6 pathway credits and any additional electives required for the AAS. We are designing the project with an instructor and business/management emphasis. 10-15 participants will be recruited across four statewide campuses for enrollment in the January 2010.


 Environmental Analyst: USDOL Apprenticeship Reps are working with nine environmental engineering companies and the Alaska and Alaska Department of Labor & Workforce Development to develop an apprenticeship program for Environmental Analyst. This is one of the 55 apprentice occupations identified in the Alaska Gasline Inducement Act (AGIA) Training Strategic Plan. The AGIA plan identifies 113 occupations that are considered significant in constructing a natural gas pipeline. The Environmental Analyst is unique because work opportunities exist from the design and permitting phases of the project, through to the construction and operations phases. No postsecondary training exists for this occupation so the partnership will need to identify the workplace competencies and develop the related technical instruction program.


School to Apprenticeship Initiative with the Mat-Su Career and Technical High School: We are working with the Matanuska-Susitna Borough School District, Alaska and Alaska Department of Labor & Workforce Development, and Alaska Department of Transportation to develop a borough wide apprenticeship outreach initiative that targets employers and links high school students to registered apprenticeship programs. We are focusing on career areas and occupations that the Mat-Su Career and Technical High School provides training for. This curriculum will become part of the first year of related technical studies for the apprenticeship program. The remaining related instruction courses will be provided by the local community college or other approved training provider. This Mat-Su School to Apprenticeship Initiative will commence in January 2010.


The AAS project that I am referencing might be what you are asking about. 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 Representatives 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 AAS brochure is attached.


John P. Hakala

State Director

U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Apprenticeship

605 West 4th Avenue, Room G30

Anchorage, AK 99501

Phone: (907) 271-5035   Fax: (907) 271-5024






Submitted by:

John Griffin






Kentucky used Recovery Act funds to hire a time-limited staff member to research and advise the Kentucky Workforce Board on links with Registered Apprenticeship.

At this time they have been awarded $750,000 of ARRA funds “set aside” for Pre-Apprenticeship.   A Request for Proposals was recently issued to local WIA Boards;

 (10 in Kentucky) asking them to partner with Registered Apprenticeship programs and bring forward innovative ideas on how to expand Pre-Apprenticeship/ Apprenticeship participation. The proposals are due mid December 15, 2009.  These proposals will identify what specific industries and trades will be supported and an estimate of how many individuals that will be assisted and at what cost.

Kentucky’s plan is to use Pre-Apprenticeship as a first step in acquiring skills by preparing workers to provide basic skills needed for Registered Apprenticeships and moving unemployed adults into stable employment. The Pre-Apprenticeship programs identified in response to this initiative will help trainees attain successful careers in construction occupations by preparing them for full Registered Apprenticeship programs in those occupations; and must demonstrate knowledge of Pre-Apprenticeship training and contribute to the further development of Pre-Apprenticeship models. This project will utilize the $750,000 stimulus funds under ARRA, allotted through a Workforce Investment Act (WIA) state discretionary grant.

Over $15 million of ARRA funds were distributed to the Commonwealth’s 10 local workforce investment boards to provide workforce and training services to the youth identified as most in need of assistance.  Approximately 85 percent of these funds were to be used to conduct the Kentucky Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) providing training opportunities to approximately 6,000 at-risk youth and young adults across the state. 

How are ARRA funds being leveraged in your state to advance Registered Apprenticeship?

BusinessWeek Logo
EUROPE October 7, 2009, 4:17PM EST

The Apprentice: Germany's Answer to Jobless Youth

Longstanding government programs that encourage companies to train young people are curbing Germany's pain, even during a global economic crisis

In most countries, giving up full-time schooling at age 15 would seem like a bad plan. But for Christian Dietrich, who lives in the German village of Ketsch, outside Heidelberg, the move made sense. Three years ago, Dietrich became an apprentice at Helmut Herbert, a large plumbing contractor in nearby Bensheim, alternating two weeks of on-the-job training with one week of classes at a vocational school. Now 18, Dietrich will qualify next year in what are traditionally separate trades: heating, plumbing, and air-conditioning. He's proud of his accomplishment. "You used to have to call three technicians. Now you only need one," says Dietrich, already making a sales pitch for his company.

Germany's apprenticeship program is one answer to a growing problem. Even as the world financial system stabilizes, unemployment among young people is soaring. In Spain, some 39% of under-25-year-olds are jobless, up from 26% a year ago. Ten other European Union countries including France, Belgium, and Hungary have youth unemployment rates above 20%. In the U.S., the unemployment rate for 16- to 24-year-olds has climbed to over 18%, up from 13% a year ago.

The danger is that a generation of young people may be economically scarred for years. Studies suggest that an extended period of youthful joblessness can significantly depress lifetime income as people get stuck in low-end jobs, or come to be seen by employers as damaged goods. "The longer they are out of work, the harder it becomes [to get work]," says Neil Carberry, head of employment policy for the Confederation of British Industry, a trade association.

In Germany, by contrast, under-25 joblessness was 8.2% in September, just a tick above the overall German rate of 8%. Austria, Denmark, and Switzerland also have well-established apprenticeship programs and below-average youth unemployment. Rather than being left to flounder after high school, young workers are plugged right into the labor market.

Companies are happy with the system, too. Apprenticeships give employers several years to train workers in company-specific skills and assess the abilities of an Azubi—short for Auszubildener ("trainee"). Says G?nther Hohlweg, who oversees the 10,000 young people learning trades at Munich-based electronics and engineering giant Siemens: "When they're done, they can start on a higher level."

The system is even good for the national budget, because companies bear much of the cost of secondary-school education. German authorities accredit some 350 kinds of apprenticeship, ranging from baker to hair stylist and bank clerk to video editor. Even university students may be apprentices, splitting their time between studying and practical experience in fields such as biotech or aerospace.

Lately, though, the system has come under stress through factors related to both the current downturn and long-term changes in the global labor market. The number of apprenticeships slumped more than 10% between 2000 and 2005, recovering only after the government threatened to compel companies to take more trainees. German officials expect the number to dip again this year because of the financial crisis. Although apprentices in lower-skilled trades can serve as cheap labor, they are often an expense to their employers in the short term. Siemens (SI) spends about $220 million a year training Azubis, some of whom earn as much as $1,500 a month. The company estimates that the productive work done by the trainees equals only about one-third their cost. Siemens, which offers almost all its apprentices full-time jobs, recoups the investment only later.

The biggest problem is a shortage of work for teens who complete only basic schooling, which may end after the ninth grade. Germany's highly automated factories offer far fewer low-skilled jobs than they used to. As a result, more than half the graduates of basic schooling wind up in government-supported training programs. About a quarter of those don't land a private-sector apprenticeship and run a high risk of long-term unemployment. "Because of the changes in the labor market, the system is not functioning as smoothly as it used to," says Tilly Lex, a sociologist at the German Youth Institute who studies job training.

At the same time, some industries take on too many apprentices. Hair salons, for example, can profit from the cheap labor that trainees provide. So they tend to train more hairdressers than the market can absorb. Once young people have invested years learning a trade, it's tough to start over. Germany is much less successful retraining older workers than training young ones.

The big question is whether the apprenticeship program is flexible enough to adjust to a changing global economy. Says Markus Kiss, an education specialist at the German Chamber of Commerce & Industry: "The system has a future, but it has to be adjusted."

Ewing is BusinessWeek's European regional editor.

On October 1-3, 2009, the New England Regional Council of Carpenters hosted their annual Apprenticeship Expo and Contest at their training center in Millbury, MA. This video is a great way to promote apprenticeship careers.

A question was sent to all OA staff asking those of us who have had experience with on line related instruction, to please share how integrity is maintained? The email went on to ask how to ensure that the actual apprentice is the individual taking and passing the course. Are there any checks and balances as to how tests are conducted? 


I decided to forward that question on to Penn Foster, an expert in the field of On Line Training, or more specifically to Rick Bruno an expert in the field who works for Penn Foster and has helped us here in Iowa immensely in developing on line training for our sponsors.  This is what Rick had to say....


"This subject is often a concern of our clients - especially those new to distance learning. We take an approach of leaving the question of integrity in the hands of the client. Believe it or not, most students are fundamentally honest in their approach to learning. If a client has even the most remote concern that the apprentice is not the one taking the tests or that apprentices are sharing information, we can create manual level tests. In other words, we can test any apprentice, at any time, upon request. For example, a test can be a random test of "x" number of questions, for "x" number of courses that the apprentice(s) has already tested on. These tests can be customized, scrambled and given with a client proctor present. I generally tell my clients to advise their apprentices that this option is available to be utilized at any given time. Just the "threat" of such an exam will keep them honest. Some clients choose to do so, even before they suspect any cheating.  Again, we have very, very few instances where this is really an issue. If it ever becomes an issue, it is most often a case of multiple apprentices and the client suspects information sharing. I think the required OJL tasks will uncover such dishonesty anyway, but there are times our clients feel they need this possibility addressed. Having the ability to customize and scramble tests from a 60,000 question test bank is a very powerful deterrent! "




Rick Bruno

Independent Training Consultant

Penn Foster Inc./Workforce Development Div.


Like all registered apprenticeship programs we have to trust the Sponsor and apprentice will maintain the highest level of integrity.   We always have CR's and OA's to verify.