Opinion Columns & Blogs

Registered apprenticeships build careers and the economy

Tony Naylor and John Clark

This week is National Registered Apprenticeship Week…. So what? Why should anyone be interested in this unless they are an apprentice? There are many responses, but the real question is, “Why isn’t everyone interested in it?”

A registered apprenticeship is a formal training program sponsored by an employer that is registered with the Kansas Apprenticeship Council or Department of Labor-Office of Apprenticeship. Big deal, right? Yes, it’s a very big deal.

Registered Apprenticeships benefit our communities and skillsets of our workforce. The Wichita Workforce Center in collaboration with KansasWorks have been longtime partners of the Plumbers and Pipefitters Training Apprenticeship of Kansas and the Wichita Electrical Joint Apprenticeship Training Center. In 2018, more than 200 apprentices were funded through Workforce Center programs. The benefits of these collaborative relationships for employers lead to skilled workers who are trained to industry and employer-specific quality standards as well as reduce turnover, increase productivity and lower training costs. Likewise, job seekers get paid to learn a trade, have guaranteed wages, and obtain portable credentials that are nationally recognized.

What sets Registered Apprenticeships apart from traditional classroom training programs is the benefit of earning while learning. The immediate stress of deciding between working a low wage job versus getting certified for a career is reduced by one’s ability to do both — at a higher wage. This reason alone is a bonus for families, employers and training programs; additionally, it stimulates the talent pipeline.

There is a surprising number of diverse apprenticeship opportunities in the region. Everything from sheet metal to iron workers, bricklayers to childcare has been established to stimulate growth in trade occupations as well as service industries. The earn-and-learn model of registered apprenticeships connects to better careers and helps get people back into the workforce quicker while providing income for their families, thereby fueling the local economy. Increased awareness of Registered Apprenticeships have contributed to more funding for apprenticeships and created opportunities to expand into new industries. Manufacturing companies such as Spirit AeroSystems and several technology companies are exploring Registered Apprenticeships to help meet the ever growing need for skilled workers.

If you are an employer seeking skilled workers or a job seeker looking at career options, it would be negligent to miss the opportunity to learn more about Registered Apprenticeship programs and available funding. The possibilities and potential for Registered Apprenticeships are endless in their impact to local businesses, families and the economy.

For more information, visit www.ksapprenticeship.org , or the Wichita Workforce Center.

Tony Naylor is the training director of Wichita Electrical Joint Apprenticeship Training Center. John Clark is the training director of Plumbers and Pipefitters Apprenticeship of Kansas