One effective way for manufacturers to develop skilled workers is through apprenticeship programs, which are again taking hold among U.S. manufacturers looking to fill open positions.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, apprenticeship is an “earn and learn” training model that combines work-based learning with classroom instruction using the highest industry standards. This approach formalizes work-based learning so workers can progress toward their career goals and companies know who is on the path toward promotion into new positions or toward replacing retiring workers.
Apprenticeships may be registered or unregistered. Registered apprenticeships are managed by the U.S. Department of Labor, while unregistered apprenticeships are managed by companies in direct partnership with training centers, technical schools (such as Bellingham Technical College) or community colleges (such as Whatcom Community College) with the goal of meeting individual business needs.
The Whatcom Business Alliance’s Youth Engagement Initiative has been working with Associated General Contractors of Washington and the Aerospace Joint Apprenticeship Committee to bring advanced manufacturing and construction apprenticeships, pre-apprenticeships and youth apprenticeships to Whatcom County.
Exposing youth to as many job environments and local employers as possible can increase the likelihood that they will choose a career they love in an environment in which they can succeed, reducing unemployment and meeting business needs.
YES Whatcom does just that, connecting Whatcom County youth with employers in Bellingham, Ferndale, Lynden and throughout the county to help identify career pathways. When these youth acquire basic skills for employment, are exposed to local jobs and learn how to identify the kind of careers they want, everyone — youth, employers and the community — comes out ahead.
To learn more about general apprenticeship programs, take a look at the Employer’s Playbook for Building an Apprenticeship Program, produced by the Manufacturing Institute. To learn more about the YES Whatcom program, contact the Whatcom Business Alliance at 360-746-0418.