In today’s tightening work environment, apprenticeships can be an excellent way for employers to develop trained staff and to evaluate them prior to making an offer of regular employment.

Apprenticeships fit well in work environments where additional skills training will be required and the job applicants pool is falling behind the demand. There is very little difference between training newly hired employees and in repurposing existing employees who need additional skills to stay with the firm.

This concept also applies to age groups. Most of us think of younger workers when we envision apprenticeships, but older workers who wish to stay in the work force and those who are being displaced are also ideal candidates.  The skills training required may differ between the age groups.  Younger workers take quickly to technology but need help with product knowledge or general work skills.  Existing workers should already understand work rules and the products but struggle with technology related skills.

I regularly hear from employers that they “can’t find sufficient skilled employees” or “we can’t seem to retain workers”. Providing a learning environment may be a way to retain workers and provide a forum to the successful integration of newly hired workers.

I am also a firm believer in a mentoring program for workers transitioning into new roles. Having someone other than their supervisor to assist them as they learn new skills or move into a different work setting allows for open and non-threatening communication.  The mentor can serve for the first months in the new role, or may evolve into a long-term friendship and mentoring role.

There are state and local funds available to offset some or all of the cost of an apprenticeship program. As you explore the idea of apprenticeships, connect with the county agencies that focus on jobs and career issues.  These folks will also help with state and federal programs that can defray the training costs.

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