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"Apprenticeship, in my opinion, is the best training method known to man." 

- Joachim Schaf, Chef Instructor, RMCC

Apprenticeships for.... chefs?  What is this new malarky?!? I've heard that we're expanding our ideas about what industries we use the apprenticeship training model in, but this is really pushing the envelope!  I saw this video today about the Chef Apprenticeship Program at Red Rocks Community College and just absolutely loved it, and wanted to share it with everyone. 

Through this program, students are spending 3 years on the job, getting paid while learning how to become a professional chef.  These students graduate to work in some of the highest-paid culinary jobs around the world, including the Ritz Hotel chain and the Island of Capri.  It's one thing to be able to do what you love, but another thing entirely to have someone pay you to learn how to do it, then hand you a job that pays you even more, and has the potential to take you to exotic places!  I have friends and family who have spent their own hard-earned money to graduate from culinary school, only to have a hard time finding a job that pays enough to pay the rent.  If only they had known that Registered Apprenticeship is for more than just electricians and plumbers.... [sigh].  But, this just proves the point that we have a lot of work to do to get the word out about what RA can do across so many previously untouched industries -- what amazing job potential we can bring to this sluggish market! 

Ace of Cakes, watch out -- the Apprentices are going to give you a run for your money!! 


Honoring the Best
Posted on August 13, 2009 by John Gaal, EdD
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Honoring the Best

Some of you may be aware of an organization called the International Foundation of Employee Benefits Plans (IFEBP). For those who are not familiar with the IFEBP, it provides an array of educational services to various audiences (i.e., public, private, labor, management, etc.) that are directly or indirectly impacted by issues concerning employee benefits, compensation, and financial literacy.

In 2008, the Training & Education Committee (T&E Cmte) of the IFEBP began honoring those registered apprenticeship (RA) programs that are considered the best of the best. Several categories exist including, but not limited to, Lifetime Achievement, Best Practices for programs with 250 or less apprentices and Best Practices for programs with over 250 apprentices. (In fact, the inaugural winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award was Mr. Anthony Swoope, former National Director of the US-DOL’s Office of Apprenticeship.) This is a great opportunity to honor those programs and individuals who have added value to their respective industries by means of promoting RA. As the current chair of the T&E Cmte, I highly recommend that interested parties participate in the soon-to-open nomination process. The awards will be presented at the IFEBP’s 2010 Trustees Institute for Jointly Managed T&E Funds to be held in Las Vegas, NV next January.


Click here for more information.



Each year, members of the OA staff are asked to nominate individuals from their respective regions, or the national office for those staff located in the national office, for the “Associate of the Year” award.   This prestigious award recognizes employee exceptional service and accomplishments have had a marked impact on the Office of Apprenticeship.  All OA staff are eligible, and can be nominated by their co-workers, their supervisors, or themselves.   In FY 2009, OA staff have selected the following outstanding individuals to be our Regional and National Office Associates of the Year.  

National Office – Mr. James Conley is recognized for the dedication and service to Office of Apprenticeship staff, as well as the public and private sectors.  As a team leader in the Division of Program Administration and Management Services, one of Jim’s key responsibilities is to ensure that all data analysis and information about Registered Apprenticeship developed by the national office are reviewed for accuracy, credible source documentation, and responsiveness to the request.  Whenever he is called upon to provide information, Jim always responds in an expeditious and professional manner.  For any information request, he ensures that the information is accurate and can be verified.  Jim is a very valuable and reliable source for technical information to OA’s field staff, as well as a serving a critical point of contact for coordinating multiple national office activities.   

Region I (Boston) - Mr. Howard “Howie” Carney is recognized for his unfailing commitment to registered apprenticeship in Rhode Island and in the Region.  State Director Carney recently returned from medical leave and part time employment and has worked steadfastly to catch up on work while also training a new Rhode Island state employee.  During his recuperation from major surgery and his part time return to work, Howie adapted to new technologies and was able to keep up with work in a variety of new ways.  He maintained contact with his state and federal partners and was positive and considerate of others throughout this period.  Additionally, Mr. Carney was the first Region I staff to exceed performance standards for completing Quality Assurance Assessments and Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) reviews and is largely responsible for the Region’s good standing in this performance element.  

Region 2 (Philadelphia) – Mr. Ronald Leonard, an Apprenticeship and Training Representative (ATR) in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania  is recognized for has systematically promoted registered apprenticeship by creating an extensive network that includes the Delaware Valley Innovation Network, a WIRED grant recipient; the Chester County Workforce Investment Board (WIB) and their One-Stop Youth Center; the Bucks County WIB; the Lehigh Valley WIB; education partners including the Southeastern PA Tech Prep Consortium; the Philadelphia Academies; Pennsylvania Biotechnology Center; advisory committees at Northeast High School in Philadelphia; the Lehigh Carbon Technical Institute in Schnecksville; the School District of Philadelphia’s Office of Career and Technical Education; and community colleges in Delaware County, Northampton County, and the City of Philadelphia.  This list could go on and on.  Ron does an excellent job of networking, provides outstanding technical assistance, and always represents the Office of Apprenticeship with enthusiasm and professionalism!  ATR Leonard’s dedication OA, his commitment to quality, and service and support to apprenticeship sponsors go far beyond the requirements of his position.
Region 3 (Atlanta) – Ms. Linda V. Seals, Administrative Officer is recognized for continuing to provide unyielding, professional, prompt and efficient serves to assist staff in Region 3, as well as staff outside the region.  Ms. Seals has provided exceptional support to the Regional Director and Regional Executive Assistant (REA)  She assisted the REA in making her transition easier by sharing her expert knowledge and provided training on WEBPARS, E-Power, and Time & Attendance and E-Travel management and other departmental office systems.   Ms. Seals also assisted OA’s National Office in reconciling budget issues due to the recent retirement of the OA Senior Budget Officer.  Ms. Seals is a team player and always ready to step up to the plate and should be commended for her expert knowledge and unlimited skills and abilities.  

Region 4 (Dallas) - David A. Gaither, Region 4’s REA, is recognized for his numerous contributions that are instrumental helping the region meet or exceed its goals.  Dave’s communication and coordination skills are tremendous asses for OA’s internal staff and our external partners.   In addition to his numerous normal duties as the REA, REA Gaither has also planned, coordinating and developed presentation materials for two major conferences: the Dallas Action Clinic in January 2009, and Employment and Training Administration’s (ETA) Region 4 Recovery and Reemployment Forum in May 2009.   Preparation for the Dallas Action Clinic required numerous hours of planning and coordination with National Office staff, Region 4 ETA staff, hotel staff and event contractor staff, and OA regional staff.  As a result of his leadership in orchestrating this event by all accounts the Dallas Action Clinic set the mark that all other Action Clinics would need to strive to meet.  REA Gaither’s actions have brought and continue to bring great credit to this region and the Office of Apprenticeship.  

Region 5 (Chicago) – Mrs. Kim Davis-Jones
, Region 5’s REA is recognized for her pivotal role as the coordinator for the Chicago Action Clinic held in December 2008.  Her exceptional role with attention to detail and recruitment has driven Region 5 to a higher level in developing partnerships within the workforce development arena achieving a commitment toward excellence and future expansion of 21st century apprenticeship.  Regardless of whose job it is, Kim accepts each challenge with personal responsibility.  She displays the epitome of great attitude, leadership, motivation to others and dedication toward successful completion of assignments.  

Region 6 (San Francisco) - Mr. Lymus Capehart is recognized for his numerous contributions to promoting apprenticeship in Region 6, and in the healthcare industry in particular.   As Apprenticeship and Training Representative (ATR) in Alaska since July 2000, Lymus works in a busy two person office with a challenging workload that at times changes due to shifting priorities, budget constraints, economic conditions.  He is a natural leader and a valuable team player.  His ability to adapt and to stay focused while working on multiple projects remains impressive.  These qualities have proven to be priceless as we work to promote and expand the registered apprenticeship system in Alaska.  Program sponsorships have grown from fewer than 100 active programs in FY 2000 to over 300 today with increasing numbers in high growth industries.  ATR Capehart’s experience and expertise in healthcare has also resulted in approval of new occupations and registration of new programs which further secures the registered apprenticeship’s role as a workforce development program in healthcare. 

Congratulations to all and let us know how you feel about our exceptional associates!
At the Dallas "Collaborate for Success" Action Clinic, I had the pleasure of working as a facilitator with the Montana team.  They developed many great plans for how to advance Registered Apprenticeship as a talent development strategy in their state.  So, I was really excited to see this August 3rd article in the Great Falls Tribune, which highlights the launch of the Montana Department of Labor and Industry's new "Apprenticeship Montana" Web site.  Please take a few minutes to look at the site - it's a fantastic example of outreach and awareness-building for both potential apprentices (geared toward middle and high school students) AND parents.  I particularly enjoyed the interactive "top ten" list on the "Why should you consider an apprenticeship?" portion of the Web site, which does a great job of appealing to youth interests (e.g. "Learn skills for a rewarding career with no educational debt!" and "Own a cool rig - not a clunker").

I think Montana has developed a really great - and replicable - outreach and education tool here.  Way to go, Team Montana - I hope you will keep us posted on your efforts!
Be a Great Journeyman
Posted on August 10, 2009 by Thao Nelson
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Editor's note:  A message from our featured apprentice turned journeyman, Jennifer Murphy.  A journeyman is like a mentor, both roles make a difference!  Listen to Jennifer's experience and let us know your stories about mentors and how they've changed your life.

You never know exactly what you’re in for when they introduce you to your journeyman.  He could be friendly and fun, no-nonsense, old, young, energetic, lazy, clever, or anything under the sun.  If you’re lucky you get someone who you can connect with at least a little bit, and those are the ones that stand out in your mind when you look back on your apprenticeship.  The really good ones.  Also (come to think of it) the really bad ones.  You certainly LEARN from both.  It’s important because at the end of the apprenticeship you yourself will BE a journeyman and if you haven’t gotten it figured out how to settle into a groove and get work done well and efficiently by then... well it’s sink or swim time.  

I’ve heard horror stories of how apprentices were treated by journeymen in the past.  According to some of the stories I’ve heard it used to be common for journeymen to yell at apprentices, ban them from the elevator so that they would have to take the stairs or ladders to upper floors, or make them roll up extension cords which were dragged through puddles of tobacco spit all over the floor.  Fortunately for everyone, times have changed and the new attitude is that everyone is treated with respect.  I’m very glad for this progressiveness.   I think it definitely makes everyone happier and removes some unnecessary stress from our lives.  Also the work moves along more safely and efficiently.  

When you “click” with your journeyman the work goes well, the day passes quickly, and you look forward to your day more.  You are more open to learning.  I had a journeyman named Oz with whom I got along well, but I was always asking questions and making suggestions when what he wanted was for me to just do the task he asked me to do the way he asked me to do it.  Once, exasperated, he said to me, “One day when you are a journeyman you are going to call me up and tell me “Thank You for being such a good journeyman! I can’t believe what a difficult apprentice I was!”  We both laughed, but just this week I had almost the same experience with one of my own apprentices!  I was a little overwhelmed with all the work on my plate and trying to prioritize everything and plan my materials.  So when I set one of my apprentices upon a task and he kept asking me if he could do it all these other ways instead of how I told him to do it I had a mind flash back to Oz.  I laughed.  Apprentices should always be thinking about what they’re doing, and finding better solutions, so he didn’t do anything wrong, but sometimes you gotta just dig in and get started.  

One of the things I struggle with is knowing how much information to give to my apprentices.  I don’t want to insult them by telling them what to do step by step, but I also don’t want to assume they know everything they need to know.  It’s a hard balance.  I’m also working to figure out the right size chunks to break the job down into manageable tasks.  It’s all falling into place.  I’m getting more comfortable in my role as a journeyman and more confident that the job will turn out alright.  Just today, for the first time I had this strange experience where I set my apprentice on a task and came back to check on his progress.  The work was done EXACTLY as I had pictured it in my mind.  It felt a little like magic!  It felt like I had just thought up the installation and “poof” it was there!  I told my apprentice and he laughed, but I was really very impressed.  I don’t know if I’m doing a better job of explaining what I want or if he is just catching on to how I like to see stuff done.  Probably both.