Registered Apprenticeship: Stepping Up to the President's Challenge

By Oates, Jane; Ladd, John V. | Techniques, September 2009 | Go to article overview

Registered Apprenticeship: Stepping Up to the President's Challenge


Oates, Jane, Ladd, John V., Techniques


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In President Obama's inaugural address to Congress, he spoke about the role the workforce and education systems and Registered Apprenticeship will play in preparing U.S. workers to succeed in today's global market. The president issued the following challenge to all Americans:

"And so tonight, I ask every American to commit to at least one year or more of higher education or career training. This can be community college or a four-year school; vocational training or an apprenticeship. But whatever the training may be, every American will need to get more than a high school diploma. And dropping out of high school is no longer an option."

In response to the President's challenge, Registered Apprenticeship, administered through the U.S. Department of Labor's Employment and Training Administration, offers a great opportunity for young women and men to learn a skill, establish a relationship with a top-notch employer, discover the countless opportunities available to excel in an industry of interest, and begin to build the confidence and work experience needed to begin a successful career.

Real-world Education and Training

So what exactly is Registered Apprenticeship? It's a job and it's education at the same time. An apprentice gets a job with an employer and begins the coursework needed to "master" the skills needed in the occupation. The apprenticeship can last anywhere from one year to four or five years depending on the occupation. As workers go through the apprenticeship, they earn wage increases as they master certain skills.

With more than 225,000 employer partners nationwide, Registered Apprenticeship offers a wide array of career options that meet workers' needs and prepare them for work in an industry that offers long-term employment. Apprentices are able to take advantage of career preparation that includes on-the-job experience and related academic and technical classroom instruction. Because so many of today's jobs require highly skilled workers, many of these apprenticeships also include the opportunity to earn an associate degree in addition to an Apprenticeship Completion Certificate. Registered Apprenticeship offers a flexible training strategy, often with programs designed to allow apprentices to move at their own pace as they learn the skills needed to excel in their chosen field.

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If a young person, or someone looking to start a new career, wants to become an electrician, a chef, a retail manager, an operating engineer, a home health or child care specialist, a carpenter, a dental assistant, a painter, or a corrections officer, Registered Apprenticeship may have a program that meets their needs. In fact, there are nearly 1,000 different career opportunities available through 29,000 programs nationwide.

Computer Programmer? There is a Registered Apprenticeship program. Graphic Designer? You guessed it, Registered Apprenticeship has it. Firefighters, seafarers, machinists, jewelers, tool and die makers, surgical technologists; all these occupations have apprenticeship programs that can prepare and launch apprentices in their field of choice. They offer an entry-level position with the opportunity to learn, earn and move up a career ladder.

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Whatever one's interest, Registered Apprenticeship has a program to match. Almost half a million like-minded adults have taken that first step and are currently enrolled. With hands-on training, and the potential to earn college credit, it's a great option that leads to long-term career opportunities. And, upon completing an apprenticeship program, apprentices earn a nationally recognized industry certification.

Apprentices can also explore emerging industries such as biotechnology and industries related to green technologies, and will be among the first generation of workers driving innovation and creativity in renewable energy, green manufacturing and other environmentally friendly careers. …

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