Starting your own apprenticeship program

Starting your own apprenticeship program
Almost any sized business that requires highly skilled employees can start an apprenticeship program. Here are a few points business owners should consider when thinking about starting their own programs.
Employer costs:
Start-up costs are minimal. However, employers must remember that sponsoring an apprenticeship program is a long-term commitment to provide an individual training. The employer must make sure a skilled worker is available to oversee the apprentice’s training.
All apprenticeship programs require classroom training, usually through one of the area’s technical colleges. The number of hours of classroom study vary, but an apprentice is required to attend classes a minimum of 144 hours per year, which is approximately one day every other week for a year. The employer pays apprentices while they are attending classes. Some employers pick up the costs for tuition and books, others require the apprentice to pay for the educational costs.
Setting up a program
In order to have an apprenticeship program, the employer must have occupations suitable for apprenticeship training. The first step is to contact the state’s Bureau of Apprenticeship Standards (in Milwaukee, 227-4398).
The Bureau of Apprenticeship Standards (BAS) will ask the following general questions to determine whether an occupation may have an apprenticeship program:
— Does it involve manual, mechanical or technical skills?
— Is it an occupation that traditionally has been learned through an on-the-job training and classroom instruction?
— Is it an occupation that is clearly identified and recognized throughout an industry?
— Is it separate from other trades, unless that part becomes practiced and recognized as a distinctly identifiable trade?
If the occupation is qualified, the field representative of the BAS will work with the company to set up a program. This is a time-consuming step that attempts to document work processes and related instruction, but it also provides the company with a tailor-made program.
A tour is made of the company’s facilities to determine whether or not all the training can be provided at the site. Skilled workers will be identified as instructors for the apprentices.
After the program is established, the employer must recruit applicants [from within the company and outside] and complete the apprenticeship paperwork.
Major benefits
to employers
As with any business decision, apprenticeships must benefit the company that supports a program. Here are a few reasons why employers should consider it:
— Fully trained, skilled employees that know the business inside and out.
— Apprentices work as they learn.
— Less turnover because apprenticeship programs attract better job applicants. And in general, apprentices are more committed to the trade and have higher levels of job satisfaction.
— Allows employers to provide career advancement opportunities for employees who wish to enter the program.
Major benefits to apprentices:
— Gain valuable skills and knowledge making them more marketable in the future.
— An apprenticeship often serves as an entry-point into a career that would otherwise be closed to an individual with no experience.
— Apprentices have the opportunity to learn a trade, earn a wage and have a sense of job security.
Source: Bureau of Apprenticeship Standards

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