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Do you remember Clay Kubicek?  We introduced him to our community in September.  He's the Education Director at Crossland Construction Company and a strong supporter of Apprenticeship.

He wanted to share a recent webcast in which he was interviewed about the training needs of business and how apprenticeships are key to their training and development strategy.

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

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...

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...