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So often, we in the apprenticeship community become frustrated at the scant attention given registered apprenticeship by the K-12 education system.  Youth have little or no knowledge of this fantastic Earn While You Learn model, and how can they, when neither their teachers nor counselors are familiar with its features and benefits?

I just finished serving on the Region 6 panel that reviewed our states' plans to spend their American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds on workforce development.  As OA's representative on the panel, I had the opportunity to contribute information about the terrific work our OA staff and our counterparts in the SAA states are doing to integrate apprenticeship with state and local workforce systems.  I also learned a lot from my ETA colleagues about some exciting initiatives, and would like to share this information with all of you.

Washington State Department of Labor and Industries sponsors a website called Experience Apprenticeship, and it's geared to high school students, as well as their parents and teachers.   Using a colorful, eye-catching design, it grabs your attention, and piques a young person's curiosity by being very specfic:  You can EARN while you LEARN.  The website concentrates on five major industry groups where apprenticeships are available.  In addition to the building and construction trades, website visitors can learn about health care, manufacturing, food preparation and service, and public safety.

There's also a tab with lots of information for parents and educators, explaining how apprenticeships work, credentials that can be earned through apprenticeship, and other important facts.

I like how the message comes across in a friendly way that isn't condescending to the student. Here's an example from the page titled "Why should you choose an apprenticeship?"

A secure future. With an apprenticeship, you’ll have the chance to gain the skills and technical know-how to become one of the best in your field. Achieving such a high level of skill will lead to a higher salary and greater job opportunities. And that will mean that your future is secure.

I really liked this quiz for potential apprentices.  You can take the quiz yourself by clicking this link:

Quiz questions, yes or no
Are you a “kinesthetic” learner? That is, do you learn best by doing?
Do you like working with other people?
Do you like doing “hands-on” activities at school (such as science labs)?
Are you good at solving problems?
Do you like it when someone demonstrates how to do something?
Are you willing to work hard for your goals?
Are you persistent? Are you willing to keep trying until you succeed?
Are you dependable? Can other people count on you?
Do you want to learn skills that will get you a good job?
Do you want to be paid while you learn your job?

Kudos to Washington State for creating this website.  Check it out!




Senator Ted Kennedy, Registered Apprenticeship and Healthcare
We have lost a great American leader and champion of labor, education and healthcare.  Senator Kennedy’s stamp is on all the major legislation of the last four decades that has helped workers and their families—minimum wage, Family and Medical leave, student loan legislation, No Child Left Behind, Serve America Act—just to name a few.  Passing healthcare reform, giving quality healthcare access to all Americans, was his final passion.  He was also a steadfast friend of the Registered Apprenticeship community and spoke at the 50th anniversary celebration of the Fitzgerald Act, the 1937 legislation that governs Registered Apprenticeship.

The intersection of healthcare reform and Registered Apprenticeship has come together in Senator Kennedy’s last major effort, the Affordable Health Choices Act, landmark legislation that passed the Senate’s Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee on July 15.  The 615-page document focuses on stronger prevention, better quality of care and use of information technology.  Senator Kennedy and the committee had the foresight and vision to include Registered Apprenticeship in the Act as part of a career pathway and healthcare innovation.

Not everyone sees the connection between Registered Apprenticeship and healthcare.  The model can be an integral part of healthcare reform by providing rigorous training to frontline healthcare workers that helps professionalize and stabilize these occupations.  It also prepares employees to be able to climb a career ladder into higher-level occupations.  Registered Apprenticeship is a way to train healthcare workers and address some of the workforce issues including recruitment and retention, training a quality workforce and improving quality of patient care.   The potential in Registered Apprenticeship is that worker skill levels can be raised along with patient care without huge cost increases.  This can lead to jobs with higher wages as workers show their increased value, creating the opportunity for upward mobility.   Additionally, if entry- and middle-level healthcare workers are better trained, then higher level professionals—nurses and doctors—will be free to do the clinical work they are trained to do instead of lower level tasks.  This model provides a clear career lattice to higher level occupations—in essence—providing a clear pathway out of poverty for many individuals who might not otherwise have an opportunity for a career in healthcare.

This is the potential that Senator Kennedy and the committee saw in including Registered Apprenticeship:   the ability to improve worker skill development, retention and patient care.  Let’s hope this small but significant piece remains in the final legislation.

Below are excerpts of the Act pertaining to Registered Apprenticeship.

Registered Apprenticeship in Affordable Health Choices Act, Title IV: Health Care Workforce

Source: PDF of bill on Senate Health Education and Labor Committee (HELP) website

Also see the Committee press release and summary dated July 15, 2009

Subtitle A: Purpose and Definitions

Page 422 – HEALTH CARE CAREER PATHWAY.—The term ‘‘health care career pathway’’ means a rigorous, engaging, and high quality set of courses and services that—

(A) includes an articulated sequence of academic and career courses, including 21st century skills;

(B) is aligned with the needs of healthcare industries in a region or State;

(C) prepares students for entry into the full range of postsecondary education options, including registered apprenticeships, and careers

(D) provides academic and career counseling in student-to-counselor ratios that allow students to make informed decisions about academic and career options;

(E) meets State academic standards, State requirements for secondary school graduation and is aligned with requirements for entry into postsecondary education, and applicable industry standards; and

(F) leads to 2 or more credentials, including—

(i) a secondary school diploma; and

(ii) a postsecondary degree, an apprenticeship or other occupational certification, a certificate, or a license.

Page 424 –(5) REGISTERED APPRENTICESHIP PROGRAM.—The term ‘‘registered apprenticeship program’’ means an industry skills training program at the postsecondary level that combines technical and theoretical training through structure on the job learning with related instruction (in a classroom or through distance learning) while an individual is employed, working under the direction of qualified personnel or a mentor, and earning incremental wage increases aligned to enhance job proficiency, resulting in the acquisition of a nationally recognized and portable certificate, under a plan approved by the Office of Apprenticeship or a State agency recognized by the Department of Labor.

Subtitle B:  Innovations in Health Care Workforce

Section 411 – National Health Care Commission - Establishes national commission tasked with reviewing health care workforce and projected workforce needs. The overall goal of the commission is to provide comprehensive, unbiased information to Congress and the Administration about how to align federal health care workforce resources with national needs. Information could be utilized by the Congress when providing appropriations to discretionary programs or in restructuring other federal funding sources. The Commission would leverage existing federal resources and programs including the expertise and work of: the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service, including the Health Resources and Services Administration, the U.S. Department of Education, and the U.S. Department of Labor, and other appropriate federal agencies. (411)

Registered apprenticeship is included in the specific topics to be reviewed by the Commission in its annual review of health care workforce and annual reports

Page 438 - (B) health care workforce education and training capacity, including the number of students who have completed education and training, including registered apprenticeships; the number of qualified faculty; the education and training infrastructure; and the education and training demands, with projected demands during the subsequent 10 and 25 year periods, and including identified models of education and training delivery and best practices;

Section 412:  State health care workforce development grants - Competitive grants are established for the purpose of enabling state partnerships to complete comprehensive planning and to carry out activities leading to coherent and comprehensive health care workforce development strategies at the state and local levels. Grants would be used to support innovative approaches to increase the number of skilled health care workers such as health care career pathways for young people and adults.  (412) (as defined in Section 401, which includes registered apprenticeship).




Kansas Registered Apprenticeship connects through LinkedIn.


The Kansas Registered Apprenticeship program recently established a group on LinkedIn.  LinkedIn is a business-oriented social networking site that is used primarily for professional networking. 


We anticipate this group will be a great way to reach out to new employers and create interest in Registered Apprenticeship while expanding their knowledge base about the program.  Employers will also be able to learn more about funding opportunities to help support their Registered Apprenticeship program throughRegistered Apprenticeship (RA) Works! and RA Scholarships.


What new and innovative things are you doing to make a connection with employers in your state?


Why Apprenticeship?  What's in it for me?

In my forty years involved in apprenticeship I was always asked .....Why Apprenticeship?

Those of us who have been involved know the answers but may not realize that we do,  or we are keeping it a secret.  Employers ask why they should consider apprenticeship when they can just hire the people they need to do the job only to find out that the individual may not have been trained at all but simply went through a course, or a simple training program. 


  • Apprenticeship ensures that the completer has learned all aspects of the trade and has met certain standards of that trade.
  • Apprenticeship offers the employer a trained individual (because the employer was the trainer).
  • Apprenticeship provides the employer with a retention rate of employees that is better than that of non participants.
  • Apprenticeship allows the employer to pay participants as the become more proficiant.
  • Apprentices who are veterans can receive VA educational benefits .
  • Employers pay wages in direct relationship to the apprentice's skills, knowledge and abilities.
  • Apprentices learn from experienced journeyworkers (mentors).
  • Apprentices learn the most recent advances in technology.
  • Apprenticeship can be adapted to any industry
  • Apprenticeship is not just a union training program.
  • Apprenticeship is not political.
  •  Apprenticeship connects job seekers looking to learn new skills with employers looking for qualified workers.
  • Apprenticeship is business-driven, a customizable program.
  • Business may qualify for state tax benefits or other financial support.


  • Apprentices are paid while learning, being able to support themselves while learning a trade or occupation.
  • Apprentices learn a trade that can be a stepping stone to further advancement or to master the occupation they are in.
  • Although there is related instruction required in apprenticeship, a large part of mastering the trade is hands-on learning, which may not be the case in an academic setting.
  • Many incoming apprentices have college behind them which can help to qualify for the program.
  • Depnding on the sponsor (employer), Apprentices can get credit for previous experience. 

Some states don't promote apprenticeship, they monitor it or regulate it.  In today's difficult times, staff has been cut back and information on apprenticeship can be scarce but with the internet, much information is out there in the public domain.  More information can be learned on the USDOL new apprenticeship website


I came across an interesting blog by David Ferguson "Learning by Doing," and his perspective on how apprenticeships fit into the context of social learning and informal learning.  I agree with his thoughts on outcome-focused rather than time-focused metrics.  Rich Davy, who works as a field representative for registered apprenticeship /State of Minnesota responded, " Apprenticeship law in the US changed last year so that employers could have ( if they chose) a competency based apprenticeship using testing( performance and/or theoretical) /assessment to confirm competency. Most apprenticeship programs are also governed by ratio (journeyman to apprentice) requirements to avoid employers taking advantage of apprentices for “cheap labor”. There are many apprenticeship programs evolving in the US in occupations other that the traditional construction trades. I see informal and social learning playing a very important role in successful apprenticeship programs if the employer can make the technology and know how available for apprentices."

Check out the blog and let us know what you think.