The 4 Biggest Threats to Your Apprenticeship Program (And How to Avoid Them)

Before you start an apprenticeship program, make sure you know about these 4 challenges and how to avoid them.

July 17, 2024

So you’ve decided to design an apprenticeship program – or are struggling to manage one currently. We’ve been there. After spending two years manually building our program at Ravience, we’ve identified the four biggest threats to your apprenticeship program – and the ways we recommend you avoid them. 

Despite common challenges, there are a myriad of benefits to establishing your own apprenticeship program. An apprenticeship program can enable employers to rethink their talent recruitment and staff development strategies. Apprenticeships allow employers to play an active role in shaping the talent they need for business success and build a company culture centered around learning.

Let’s start from the beginning, and the most common question: where do I start with my apprenticeship program? 

1. Analysis Paralysis

The possibilities for what apprenticeships to create are numerous. The ways to go about creating an apprenticeship are endless. You have hundreds, if not thousands, of job descriptions and options. Once you begin researching “how to start an apprenticeship program” you quickly realize that the answer is “however you want.”

Andy Seth, Founder and CEO at Apprentix and Ravience, described designing his first apprenticeship program at Ravience as “totally overwhelming from a creative standpoint.”

“It wasn’t like a well-defined step-by-step process where I could walk through and quickly make progress,” said Seth. “I didn’t even know how to make progress. The paradox of choice was utterly deflating.”

Although Apprentix does offer 54,000+ apprenticeship program templates to choose from, we’ve designed a 12-step apprenticeship design process to guide you through selecting the one job description of interest. 

We’ve integrated the right questions you’ll need to answer in order to start your apprenticeship program. And the best part? Apprentix cuts the apprenticeship design process from months to minutes.

apprenticeship training approach

2. The Learning Gap

When you start researching how to start your apprenticeship program, you’ll find numerous whitepapers littered with acronyms like RTI and OJL. There’s an enormous amount of over-complication out there on the web, and honestly, who has time to sift through all that information? 

Since we’ve faced this learning gap ourselves, it was important to us that we found a way to build the necessary information into the apprenticeship design process. Apprentix is a learning tool as well as an apprenticeship software tool. We built in key phrases and learning touchpoints to teach while actually starting your apprenticeship program.

3. The Federal Registration Push

There are clear benefits to federally-registering your apprenticeship. Federal-registration formally identifies a company with an apprenticeship program as a sponsor, an individual employer or group of employers, who recruit, train, and teach apprentices. Sponsors are required to work with state apprenticeship agencies (SAAs) to make sure that their registered apprenticeship programs meet state and Federal requirements. 

Federal registration means, in its most basic form, there is a recognized definition of the job you’re offering in your apprenticeship program. A Registered Apprenticeship Program (RAP) is a proven model of apprenticeship that has been validated by the U.S. Department of Labor or a State Apprenticeship Agency.

Being federally-registered opens your business up to opportunities to access government funding under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA).

In exchange for running and tracking an apprenticeship program, an approved apprenticeship program has access to federal higher education funding streams, such as Pell Grants and work-study. Governmental funding can range, on average, anywhere between $8,000 - $15,000 per apprenticeship. Federally-registered can help offset more than a quarter of the costs of running an apprenticeship program. 

But there are also negatives to being pushed to federally register. The federal registration process is extremely complicated and can take 6 to 12 months on average, costing your business valuable time and resources. 

This was a clear issue to Seth. “Larger companies may have dedicated resources to start an apprenticeship program. But entrepreneurs and small businesses don’t have dedicated resources who can spend over 6 months to design and start an apprenticeship program. 99.7% of businesses in the U.S. are small businesses. The federal-registration process is simply not sustainable in its current form.”

Federal registration shouldn’t be that hard. With Apprentix, we offer businesses the choice to federally-register without the pain of the federal registration process. Our 54,000+ apprenticeship job description templates are designed off of those in the federal database. At the end of Apprentix’s 12-step design process, you’ll have the option to generate the documents you need for your specific SAA – or just start running your apprenticeship program yourself.

registered apprenticeship program

4. Tracking Your Apprenticeship Program

So, you’ve set up your apprenticeship program, and you’ve hired a few apprentices. How do you track this thing? There are the obvious questions, like: What do I measure? Where do I track? Where do I keep all the relevant information? 

Without adequate tracking, there are obvious threats to your program, such as apprentices getting lost or falling behind. At what point does an apprentice learn a competency after working on it? 

Say, for example, you have an apprentice who completes a classroom course. How are you to ensure she actually knows what she says she knows? In order to adequately track progress in your apprenticeship program, you’ll have to find a way to overcome self-verification. 

Tools like spreadsheets and task-tracking don’t necessarily offer enough visibility into competency. It can be difficult to link files, demonstrate competency, assign day-to-day tasks, and see where the apprentice is in their program.

Without a clear understanding of what’s happening day-to-day and where the apprentice is headed in the long run, apprentices get frustrated. Managers get frustrated, and graduation rates remain low.

With Apprentix, we’ve made tracking easy. An apprentice simply uploads evidence of competency (the standard is established in the design process), and a manager is notified. The manager can then view the uploaded evidence and approve – all in one place.

apprenticeship tracking

Creating a successful apprenticeship program

We’ve watched so many companies fail while creating and managing their apprenticeship programs. Enough is enough. The world needs long-term paid work-based learning opportunities that build your company’s talent pool and help your company succeed. Here’s how to avoid the common challenges and create a successful apprenticeship program:

Keep it simple. There’s a reason the Apprentix setup portal is 12-steps to set up instead of 12 months. The more apprenticeships created = the more lives changed = the better talent pool for your company.  Our program is created to help guide you through apprenticeship program design, quickly and efficiently. 

Learn as you go. We’ve built terminology definitions into our software. No more extensive time reading overcomplicated whitepapers (unless you want to!)

Know that Federal Registration is important, but not necessary. If you want to federally-register, we can help. And if you don’t, we can help.

Track in one-place. Forget the spreadsheets. Apprentix can help businesses fully track and manage their apprenticeship program. 

It’s time to upgrade to a tool that saves you valuable time and energy and helps you avoid the biggest threats to your apprenticeship program.

Like the article? Spread the word