Since 1937, the Dept of Labor has issued regulations to protect the general safety and welfare of apprentices in America. Since then, in conjunction with State Apprenticeship Agencies, the labor department has provided technical assistance to support program sponsors, guided partners in developing programs, and offered other resources such as funding and training opportunities to businesses.
While the government’s role has been critical in the expansion of apprenticeships in America, their plates are full. With degree inflation affecting businesses’ ability to find quality employees, it’s time for private companies to take matters into their own hands and start their own apprenticeship programs.
The Dept of Labor and its role in apprenticeships
The U.S. Department of Labor’s role is to “safeguard the welfare of apprentices, ensure equality of access to apprenticeship programs, and provide integrated employment and training information to apprenticeship sponsors and the local employment and training community.”
The labor department has multiple online resources, including Apprenticeship.gov, an informational website that connects job seekers and employers, parents, teachers, and federal/local workforce agencies. This website provides information on how to establish apprenticeship programs along with other resources outline the legislation and regulations of federally registered apprenticeships.
The Dept of Labor validates apprenticeships as “Registered Apprenticeship Programs” or “RAPs.” These are available in all industry sectors as long as the occupation is deemed “apprenticeable.” There are specific guidelines and standards employers and apprentices must meet to participate in RAPs. Those who meet the requirements are able to take advantage of funding opportunities, tax credits, and no-cost technical assistance.
How a Workforce Development Center supports apprenticeships
Depending on where you live, your city or town may have workforce development centers that connect businesses with qualified workers. A workforce development center may offer electronic job orders and job fairs, use of private interview space, and background screenings.
Additionally, these job centers may offer extensive training and education to local workers. Industry-recognized certification programs, and customized pre-employment programs. Apprenticeship programs can also be hosted at workforce development centers. A workforce development center can also be a hub for upskilling programs for incumbent workers and offer assistance such as transportation, childcare assistance, and mentoring programs to apprentices in training.
American Job Centers
Established under the Workforce Investment Act, American Job Centers are designed to assist job seekers, such as training services and career counseling. Training services include skills assessments, aptitude tests, and educational programs. There are nearly 2,400 American Job Centers nationwide.
Modernizing workforce development with custom apprenticeships
In 2021, the White House discontinued a Trump administration work force initiative that aimed to deregulate government-funded apprenticeship programs and shift supervision to industry groups. These programs were known as “Industry-Recognized Apprenticeship Programs” or IRAPs.
Though these programs were independent, they still required an apprenticeship program sponsor, such as trade or industry groups, educational institutions, corporations, or nonprofits. Lawmakers in favor of IRAPs emphasized that these programs gave employers more flexibility in training workers without government red tape. In contrast, those opposed said an absence of government oversight would result in a lack of wage and safety protections.
Despite IRAPs getting killed, businesses still have the opportunity to create custom apprenticeships to fill needs in their organization. The easiest way to do so is with apprenticeship software like Apprentix. We’ve created a step-by-step guide to show you how, but here are some of the highlights:
- Choose the positions you want to turn into apprenticeships and define the terms. How long do you want the apprenticeship to last? Will it be time-based or competency-based?
- Select the program sponsor. This is the person responsible for overseeing the apprentice’s progress.
- Input your employer information.
- Create a skills-based job description. What skills are required to do the job well? If you don’t want to come up with the list yourself, Apprentix automates it for you.
- Create a classroom plan.
- Create an on-the-job plan. Apprentix will also create this for you, and you can customize it further for your specific needs.
- Build a wage schedule.
- Choose what optional supportive services you want.
- Define your work force recruiting process.
- Add your employees.
- Decide if you want to federally register your apprenticeship. If you do, Apprentix will generate all of the paperwork for you. Then you just send it off to your state’s apprenticeship office.
Businesses that take advantage of building their own apprenticeship programs and their local workforce development center resources will be lightyears ahead of other organizations that utilize outdated recruiting methods. It couldn’t be easier to benefit from these systems – so start modernizing your work force today.