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Discover registered apprenticeship

A well thought-out program can save on training and recruitment costs in many occupations

Ed Madden
Guest Columnist
What if you could provide the opportunity for a graduate of a high school, skills center or college to begin their career in your industry, or even in your company?

Your recruits need more on-the-job experience, you say. But look at it this way: you already have to train most new hire on job protocols and various aspects of your company. Often you find out too late that many with experience might be too set in their ways and a bad match. How expensive was that recruitment, screening, interview, reference checking, hiring decision and orientation?

What if you could grow your own employee in a nationally recognized structured system that would combine the training you provide on the job with classroom instruction?

There is a viable option perhaps you might not be aware of or have never considered. You might be able to provide an "industry scholarship" by becoming a sponsor of a Registered Apprenticeship Program. This may be a surprise for some business owners who think apprenticeship is limited to building and construction trades or labor unions. Not so.

Examples of occupations that have been approved and registered include administrative assistant, auditor, bank teller, court clerk, insurance underwriter, legal assistant, property manager, prosthetics technician, real estate appraiser and so on. Currently in Southwest Washington, there are 181 occupations that an apprentice can learn and become credentialed in. These opportunities are provided by 91 sponsors of registered apprenticeship.

As long as an industry recognizes competency in the occupation by requiring at least 2,000 hours of on-the-job learning as well as 144 clock hours a year of classroom instruction, it is possible to develop an apprenticeship for it.

The Department of Labor and Industries is the state’s registration agency assisting sponsors in developing their apprenticeship. The Washington State Apprenticeship and Training Council is the approving authority. Registered apprenticeship is a voluntary system and sponsors must agree to abide by federal and state laws governing employment, training and, when applicable, equal employment opportunity requirements.

A relationship between the employer and the apprentice must exist and the apprentice’s pay is based on a percentage – determined by the sponsor – of a fully qualified worker in the occupation. The wage paid should be increased only if the apprentice makes satisfactory progress and the on-the-job training must be provided by an occupationally qualified mentor.

The classroom instruction can be provided in a variety of methods as determined by the sponsor. If there are appropriate community college classes, the sponsor requires there is a 50 percent tuition waiver for apprentice training. All the requirements predetermined for your apprenticeship program are spelled out in a document called the Standards of Apprenticeship. These are approved by the Apprenticeship and Training Council and registered with L&I in the business name and become part of the written agreement between the sponsor, the apprentice and the state.

With some effort – and lots of payoff – you can be part of the solution to reforming education, solving workforce training concerns and providing opportunities. Become a sponsor of a registered apprenticeship to meet your needs and you will be a welcomed training provider as well as a leader in the business community.

Ed Madden has been directly involved with federal and state apprenticeship for 26 years, starting in 1979 as an apprentice radio mechanic while on active duty in the U.S. Army. He is the Apprenticeship Coordinator for Southwest Washington for the Department of Labor and Industries, the registration agency for Washington apprenticeship and staff to the Washington State Apprenticeship and Training Council. He can be reached by email at madf235@lni.wa.gov or at 360-575-6927.

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