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Five Upskilling Questions for John Ladd, Administrator, Office of Apprenticeship, Employment &Training Administration

November 2-6 is National Apprenticeship week.  UpSkill America Director Jaime Fall asked John Ladd about the week, what the Office of Apprenticeship hopes to accomplish and what else is coming up in the months ahead to expand the use of apprenticeship as an upskilling strategy.

  1. What is National Apprenticeship Week and what do you hope to accomplish?

In support of the ApprenticeshipUSA initiative, President Barack Obama has declared the week of November 2-6, National Apprenticeship Week (NAW).  Simply put, NAW will celebrate the use of the Registered Apprenticeship model in training U.S. workers.  This historic annual acknowledgement of the value of Apprenticeship will allow Apprenticeship programs and stakeholders a chance to showcase their programs, facilities and apprentices.  During NAW, employers, industry associations, labor, education, and other critical partners will have the opportunity to express their support of Apprenticeship and highlight the benefits of the “Earn and Learn” model in preparing a highly skilled workforce to meet the talent demands of employers in all industries.

  1. Are there any specific activities planned people should know about?

NAW will consist of a multitude of events and activities nationwide to promote the expansion of the “earn and learn” model, including: Apprenticeship Program Open Houses; Apprenticeship Signing Days; Industry and Employer Apprenticeship Commitment Announcements; Skills Competitions; Blogs, Social Media activities, and other outreach & promotional activities.  There are currently over 100 events planned across the nation.  To learn more, view a recent Webinar on NAW, and access “Event Kit” resources to aid in planning an event, please visit: http://www.doleta.gov/oa/naw/

  1. With the recent announcement of the Department of Labor awarding $175 million in grants, it’s clear this administration sees Apprenticeship as a valuable upskilling strategy.  Tell us how this investment will help US workers access training for high-skill, well-paying careers.

Through this investment, which marks the largest Federal investment ever made to support Apprenticeship, grantees are committed to creating more opportunities for hard-working Americans by creating and expanding apprenticeship programs.  These programs help American workers acquire the skills they need to access successful career paths that lead to the middle class.  These forty-six grantees, representing public-private partnerships from throughout the country, have pledged to train and hire more than 34,000 new apprentices in growing industries such as healthcare, IT, and advanced manufacturing over the next five years.

These projects will also align apprenticeships with post-secondary education, and increase partnerships with the Workforce Investment and Opportunity system.  These efforts will help increase an apprentice’s ability to earn college credits while they train for good careers; and enable industry and employers to access a talent pool of under-represented individuals, including, women, Veterans, youth and dislocated workers.  For more on the American Apprenticeship grants, you can visit: http://www.dol.gov/apprenticeship/grants.htm

  1. The momentum around apprenticeship as an upskilling strategy continues to grow.  What can we look for in the coming year?

We here at the Department of Labor are committed to continuing the momentum surrounding the ApprenticeshipUSA initiative to increase the number of opportunities U.S. workers have to access high-skill training and enter careers that offer a path to the middle class.  To do this, we are continuing to engage industries and employers to encourage the development of strategies and partnerships that expand the use of Apprenticeship. We are also planning innovative technical assistance sessions, including a series of Apprenticeship Accelerators events, for early next year to accelerate industry’s adoption of apprenticeship and support the development of new competency based apprenticeship models.  If we can continue to create awareness on the importance of industry, employers, labor, educators, community-based organizations and the public workforce system all working together to develop and expand these training and education opportunities, we can develop a pipeline of future workers prepared to ensure America remains a leader in productivity and innovation.

  1. If there is an employer out there who isn’t quite sure whether or not apprenticeship is right for their company, what advice would you give them?

First and foremost I would encourage them to learn more about Apprenticeship, as well as talk to an employer that is already using apprenticeship today.  Over 150 organizations have agreed to become ApprenticeshipUSA LEADERs and they are all willing to talk with other employers and share their experience, which is overwhelmingly positive.  Over 95% of employers that use apprenticeship would recommend apprenticeship.  Increasing awareness and understanding the benefits of apprenticeship is the key!  Once an industry or employer investigates using the Apprenticeship model to train their workforce, we believe the benefits will speak for themselves.

Through the ApprenticeshipUSA initiative, we have the opportunity to increase the number of Americans who are well trained and highly-skilled.  Creating that pipeline of talent will result in better bottom lines for employers.  Over the next year, we will continue to engage industries and employers to hear more on their needs and how we can assist them in creating and expanding these opportunities to more Americans.  I would encourage any organization hoping to learn more about Apprenticeship to visit: http://www.dol.gov/apprenticeship/Once there, you can access various resources, including our list of current LEADERS and the Quick Start Toolkit: Building Registered Apprenticeship Programs – which is specifically designed to aid employers in exploring, planning and developing an apprenticeship program.  This is a historic time for Apprenticeship! We have a great opportunity to expand our uniquely American “earn and learn” model to train U.S. workers and ensure they remain the most well-trained, highly skilled workforce in the world.