Real apprenticeships: Building a work force, not a TV show

GREENSBORO – In January, WRAL TechWire published an article addressing the fact that economic development and job growth is being challenged by the growing need of employers to find appropriately skilled workers.

Titled “Addressing our next big challenge: America’s job skills gap,” it discussed the growing requirements of employers for workers with higher, more specific skills and experience.  The article also pointed out that fewer employers are offering training due to the financial and logistical challenges of providing appropriate on-the-job training programs.

New jobs These shifting dynamics create an imperative to develop education systems and training programs, especially at the community college and post-high school level, that recognize the skills and credentials that are needed by employers to properly grow their businesses.

This article went on to point out that based upon this information, public and private sector leaders need to align investments for education and training that fit with employers’ workforce needs and their current open roles and could be accomplished in conjunction with community-based organizations that are on the frontlines of trying to help people get back to work.

Duke Energy’s move

With the April 7 announcement of their commitment to provide $5 Million in grants to North Carolina Community Colleges to support apprenticeship programs across the State Duke Energy and Piedmont Natural Gas provided a needed boost to the State’s already significant efforts to growing our skilled workforce, benefiting North Carolina companies, families, and economic development efforts.

These apprenticeship programs will be hosted by employers or sponsoring organizations and provide students real on-the-job training allowing the students to earn wages and do productive work while getting an education. Upon completing an apprenticeship, the student will have gained valuable work experience and a recognized industry credential that allows them to continue in the field and advance their career over time.

The apprenticeship can be hosted by an employer or a sponsoring organization, such as a trade association, a labor organization or an independent apprenticeship organization. Sponsors work with our economic development agency’s NC Works Division to develop and register their program.  The sponsor may provide elements of the program themselves (on-the-job training and related technical instruction), and partner with our community colleges to deliver a comprehensive, apprentice-focused experience.

Not TV but reality

Forget Hollywood and Celebrity Apprentice. These apprenticeships have many advantages for both apprentices and employers.

Apprentices who successfully complete a certified apprenticeship program are given a pathway to a meaningful career and upon successfully completing the program are assured of a real job and career path. What’s more, in most cases apprenticeship programs are true “earn while you learn” experiences providing a valuable educational experience (and possible college credit) at no cost, which means no student loan debt.

Employers reap equally valuable benefits. They can cultivate a well-trained, talented workforce that is productive from the start while adding diversity to their workforce by bringing new talent to the organization.  By allowing workers to train using the exact pieces of equipment, protocols and procedures that are relevant to the employer, employers reap additional cost savings and an increase in worker productivity with a decrease in error and accident rates.  Additionally, employee loyalty and retention rates improve, succession issues are diminished, while employers benefit from a return on investment of $1.40 for every dollar spent on the program (based upon industry statistics).

As the president of the NC Community College System stated, “The NC Community College System is appreciative of the investment Duke Energy and Piedmont Natural Gas are making in our students. The apprenticeship experience can be incredibly valuable to our students and we look forward to working with industry and business partners to put our students to work.”

The application process will open on June 1 and those interested in learning more about the program can contact the Duke Energy Foundation or visit:

http://www.duke-energy.com/foundation
Read more at http://wraltechwire.com/real-apprenticeships-building-a-work-force-not-a-tv-show-/16636032/#hzezbqzdkQTzppZz.99