The significance of National Apprenticeship Week is ongoing



Recently, GST Michigan Works! celebrated National Apprenticeship Week (NAW) by hosting a luncheon to provide local employers with information on creating U.S. Department of Labor registered apprenticeships.

Even though the weeklong observance to highlight the impact apprenticeships have in training people for jobs in growing industries has come and gone, its meaning has lasting importance. Here’s why:

An apprenticeship is an industry-driven, highquality career pathway in which workers can obtain paid work experience, classroom instruction, and a transferable credential while employers develop and prepare their future workforce.

There are three core components of an apprenticeship that I want to cover:

Apprenticeship programs enable employers to develop and train their future workforce while offering career seekers affordable paths to secure highpaying jobs.

Apprenticeship programs are different from other types of workplace training models in several ways.

On-the-job learning is conducted in the work setting under the direction of a mentor, usually a journeyman; and

Training results in an industryrecognized and portable credential.

An apprenticeship is a flexible training model that can be customized to meet the needs of every business and industry.

Despite the outstanding career prospects that apprenticeships offer, there are more than 7.2 million job openings nationwide that cannot be filled due to the growing skills gap that exists in the workforce, according the U.S. Department of Labor (US DOL), which established NAW in 2015. In fact, many of these vacancies remain unfilled because employers cannot find job seekers with the right skills, US DOL reports.

That gap also exists locally.

Currently, there are 23 companies with US DOL Registered Apprenticeship programs in Genesee County, GST Michigan Works! reports. And there is a need for more businesses to adopt registered apprenticeships as a training model, the agency adds. By doing so, businesses create a stable and reliable pipeline of qualified workers.

Those businesses also ensure their employees are extensively trained and certified for the occupation.

According to Wanda Bigelow, an apprenticeship success coordinator at GST Michigan Works!, Genesee County needs more employers with registered apprenticeships to partner with career and technical education (CTE) programs in high schools. That was the basis for the Nov. 13 luncheon.

Employers should understand that apprenticeships can be and should be, at least for some, part of the solution to their talent needs. Moreover, the GST Michigan Works! stands ready to help, as Bigelow makes clear.

“The biggest thing I want is for employers to know that they don’t have to go through the process of putting a new Registered Apprenticeship program together alone,” she said. “An apprenticeship is a flexible training strategy that can be customized to meet the needs of any business.”

There are currently over 1,300 occupations with apprenticeships, and more being created on a regular basis, she added.

An apprenticeship is a proven way for individuals to obtain the skills and knowledge that will enable them to pursue careers in a number of occupations. The Flint & Genesee Chamber is proud to support partners like GST Michigan Works! and Genesee Career Institute, and initiatives like National Apprenticeship Week to showcase the impact apprenticeships have on closing the skills gap in this country, and in Genesee County.

Local companies interested in learning more about establishing an apprenticeship program should contact Wanda Bigelow at GST Michigan Works! at

Tim Herman is the CEO of the Flint & Genesee Chamber of Commerce