In an ongoing effort to inform the Virginia asphalt industry on apprenticeship opportunities available through the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry (DOLI), I had the opportunity to discuss with Patricia Morrison, Director of Registered Apprenticeship in the Commonwealth, some of the common myths that might keep potential company “sponsors” from benefitting from the program. However, before breaking down the myths leading to the misconceptions, a little background on the program’s history in Virginia is helpful.
The Division of Registered Apprenticeship (RA) is celebrating its 80th anniversary this year. The 1937 Fitzgerald Act mandated that each state either make way for the U.S. Department of Labor to set up shop and run the apprenticeship program or fund and administer its own program. Virginia chose to do the latter. The program has thus been with DOLI since 1938.
Regarding the many myths associated with Registered Apprenticeship, some of the more common ones include “lots of red tape, lots of governmental interference, expensive, intrusive, for men only or for unions only.” In short, you name it, and there is probably a myth surrounding it.
Here are the ones that Morrison combats on a regular basis:
MYTH: REGISTERED APPRENTICESHIP IS VERY EXPENSIVE
Myth Buster: The program is both conservative in cost and flexible in nature, allowing each company sponsor to develop a program that works best for them financially, their culture and employee(s). Says Morrison, “if your company is hiring, or promoting an individual into an apprenticeship, you are more than likely able to pay that apprentice.” There is no registration expense that comes from DOLI. However, there may be some cost depending on any related technical instruction that is needed per specific role requirements or company needs. These extra costs usually come in the form of tuition, online registration fees, books, etc. How those expenses are paid is up to the employer and the apprentice.
MYTH: MOST APPRENTICESHIPS, ESPECIALLY IN CONSTRUCTION, CATER TO MALES ONLY
Myth Buster: This is FALSE!!!! Currently, women in construction and similar-type industries are UNDER utilized. DOLI encourages all its recruiters and potential company sponsors to “widen their net,” or learn how to include women in any industry, thus maximizing competitive edge.
MYTH: APPRENTICESHIP MEANS UNION
Myth Buster: False again! Across all potential trades, there are 2,000+ individual employer sponsors of which only 40+ are union-based Joint Apprenticeship Committee (JAC) or Joint Apprenticeship Training Committee (JATC) group sponsors. These employers, however, serve over 11,000 apprentices.
MYTH: REGISTERED APPRENTICESHIP IS FOR ADULTS ONLY
Myth Buster: Youth Registered Apprenticeships are a popular way to obtain the career exploration or work-basedlearning requirement in the high school diploma. Students enrolled in these types of programs earn hours which count toward an adult apprenticeship if they continue to travel down that path after graduation. Additionally, students enrolled in Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs through the county vocational schools also earn credits toward related/ required technical instruction.
MYTH: GETTING SET UP TO SPONSOR AN APPRENTICE IS A DIFFICULT AND TIMECONSUMING PROCESS, REQUIRING LOTS OF PAPERWORK, INTERVIEWS
Myth Buster: According to Morrison, the major components of any Registered Apprenticeship program include the following:
- An employer who will select an apprentice or promote an incumbent and pay them
- An apprenticeable occupation (guidance provided by the USDOL where more than 1,500 occupations qualify)
- An apprentice – recruited, selected or promoted by the employer
- Related Technical Instruction (RTI) – occupation-specific instruction
A DOLI consultant will come to you to explain the features and benefits of an RA program, create all the paperwork necessary with your specific information and request your signature. Together, the employer and the consultant source the relevant, occupation-specific instruction that your apprentice will pursue. This meshing of theoretical, technical instruction and on-the-job training is the glue that creates proficiency in the apprentice. But why stop there? Morrison states that her office can also help create suitable Registered Apprenticeship programs for new occupations or “works processes” (the DOL term for a job role) in sectors where this model has traditionally not been utilized.
The shrinking labor market might be causing you to feel the squeeze when searching for talent to fill roles in your organization. With Registered Apprenticeship, you can create the talent you seek to expand or even, keep up. For additional information on the program, the DOL website (www.doli.virginia.gov) has a wealth of information including frequently asked questions, tips for job seeking, the RA consultant list of bios and more. What you do out on the roads helps to keep Virginia moving, and DOLI is here to help grow the talent through Registered Apprenticeship.