Innovation Changes the Game for Apprenticeships

From Montez King, Executive Director of NIMS:

A question I ask an employer when I’m being toured around a manufacturing company is, “What makes this department thrive?” It’s a hopeful, positive question that initially lights the eyes. Sometimes that light dims almost instantaneously as the question can reveal ways in which the department is not performing up to its potential. The kernel for improvement is often training.

It’s an honor to assist companies in identifying where they need skills improvement and also participating in the subsequent steps of formulating a customized plan for their actual workpieces, validating the experience, and perhaps even credentialing that competency to an industry standard. And therein lies the frustration and the challenge: the current Registered Apprenticeship Program, administered by the U.S. Department of Labor, is a strict occupational view of the workforce that no longer exists in many industries. As such, the program must change. Now.

One of the greatest barriers to working with the current 1930s-era Registered Apprenticeship model (yes, 80 years old) is that it’s tied to specific occupations. Focusing only on occupations, rather than competencies, limits access and is out of date. Employers need workers who are cross-trained, flexible, and adapt to changing technology and workforce needs. They need employees who can obtain competencies and skills that cross over to other job roles, are able to advance faster, and can provide more value to the company. In a program in which all of the competencies a shop needs are identified, one program could benefit multiple roles and functions.

Read the full article in Manufacturing Engineering.