Apprenticeship in Minnesota
Nearly 70 years ago, the Minnesota Division of Voluntary Apprenticeship had its first function to recognize the completion of formalized apprenticeship requirements. Homer J. Smith, then a professor of industrial education at the University of Minnesota, was not able to attend the March 14, 1942 event, but sent his sentiments in a letter declining the invitation.
“This meeting will, in fact, be ‘making Minnesota history’,” Smith said. “People may be a long time in sensing the economic, social and democratic values of apprenticeship. Fundamentally, apprenticeship is our best vocational training type. There is [no other type] so fortified with realness, timing and controls.”
Today, Minnesota continues to realize the many benefits of apprenticeship.
In Minnesota, informational and educational efforts continue today and have expanded to educate any and all potential stakeholders about the many benefits associated with registered apprenticeship. The Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry’s (DLI’s) Apprenticeship unit typically participates in more than 20 job fairs each year, as well as many other promotional events, including the Minnesota State Fair. Dissemination of apprenticeship information is ongoing at high schools, correctional facilities and Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) WorkForce Centers throughout the state. DLI also administers the Leveraging Educational Assistance Partnership (LEAP) Program, which encourages and promotes the participation of women and people of color in apprenticable trades and other occupations.
The DLI Apprenticeship unit regularly works with DEED to coordinate visits to WorkForce Centers throughout the state, promoting and disseminating information about apprenticeship programs and employment. Recent collaboration with the online job service program ISEEK has resulted in easily accessible and practical information about how to become an apprentice, with viable links to training coordinators.
New career opportunities, such as health care support specialist, low-voltage line installer and others, are being registered as newly apprenticeable occupations. Leveraging the opportunity for competency- and hybrid-based apprenticeships is also off to a great start in Minnesota: DLI has recently approved standards for five trades using newly available models from the federal Office of Apprenticeship.
Just a few years ago, Minnesota’s apprenticeship programs had more than 10,000 apprentices. Yet, like the rest of the United States, those programs have been hit hard by the economic down-turn, particularly in the construction industry. Despite the difficult times, Minnesota has 305 registered programs and an average of 7,000 employed apprentices; more than 2,000 new apprentices were registered within the past year.
Even during tough economic times, apprenticeship has weathered well, proving its value and endurance. With the advent of exciting new regulations allowing for competency- and hybrid-based apprenticeship programs, the ultimate in unique, tactile-kinesthetic learning, education and knowledge acquisition is available for today’s and tomorrow’s workers.
Director Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry
443 Lafayette Road
St. Paul, MN 55155-4303
Submitted by John Griffin