When your shop is trying to hire qualified candidates that are also good employees, apprenticeships can be invaluable. In a recent survey done by Thomas, they found that shops with apprenticeship programs were less impacted by the lack of skilled labor. In addition, in companies they surveyed, more than half of their apprenticeship programs were unaffected by the pandemic. If your shop wants a reliable way to find knowledgeable employees, an apprenticeship program is a great way to acquire them.

Why Apprenticeships Are Helpful

Manufacturing as a whole has been having trouble finding enough people to fill open jobs for years. One of the challenges is finding employees with experience. With an apprenticeship program, the people you recruit don’t have to have any prior experience. They just need to fit your criteria, and they’ll learn everything they need to know during the program.

One strategy that many shops have been using to fill open positions is to recruit people who aren’t typically found in a shop. However, many of these people may have the same problem: they may have enthusiasm for manufacturing but no practical experience. Again, an apprenticeship program can help close the gap and make these people into model employees.

Apprenticeship programs also tend to turn out employees who stay at their shops. According to the US Department of Labor, 91% of apprentices that finish an apprenticeship are still at that shop nine months later. So, not only does your shop get people who have been trained in how your shop does things from day 1, but they’re also almost certain to stay after the program is done.

Apprenticeships aren’t just useful for new employees. They can also be helpful for current employees who want to gain new skills. If your shop participates in an apprenticeship program, or if you have your own, these employees can continue working while learning new things they can use in your shop. With an apprenticeship program, you can be sure they’re learning new skills at a high standard. Plus, they can keep working for you while they do it.

How to Make Apprenticeships Work in Your Shop

apprenticeships in manufacturing

Apprenticeships are nationally-recognized programs that certify that an apprentice has mastered the skills included. So, while there are certain standards that an apprenticeship program must meet to be certified, there is also the flexibility to customize them for your shop. Because of the standards in the program, you know that anyone who completes it will have the same skills as someone else with similar experience. However, an apprentice who completes your program will also know how your shop operates.

Part of an apprenticeship program is instruction not found on the shop floor. Often this instruction is from a community college, technical school, apprenticeship program, or sometimes the shop itself. What this means is that the apprentice also needs to take time to attend these classes. However, since they’re taking the program through your shop, you can work together with the institution that’s providing the classes to make sure the apprentice spends enough time in both places.

Since these are government-recognized programs, there is also some government support that goes along with them. Among other things, a registered program is entitled to technical assistance and support, federal resources, and sometimes tax credits. Some states offer tax credits for apprenticeship programs, and certain training expenses can be claimed as federal tax credits.

Joining or Making a Recognized Apprenticeship Program

If you’ve decided you want an apprenticeship program in your shop, there are two ways to go about it. You can join an already existing program, or you can create your own. There are pros and cons to each, so you should research and determine which is best for your shop.

Joining an Apprenticeship Program

Before you can join an apprenticeship program, you’ll need to find one that is nearby. The US government has a directory of apprenticeship offices for each state, which is a great place to start. These offices will know about all of the government-recognized apprenticeship programs in the state. They can help you connect to some of these programs to see which would be a good fit.

The US government’s apprentice website also offers to find your shop an apprenticeship partner. These partners could be educational partners, an existing program that you’d like to join, or resources to help your shop create its own program. If you’re not sure which direction you’d like to go, it may be helpful to learn more about each option.

Making an Apprenticeship Program

If you’ve decided that you want to make your own apprenticeship program, there are many resources to help with this as well. The US Department of Labor has an apprenticeship toolkit, which includes a section specifically for building your own program. This section of the toolkit goes over what different apprenticeship program models look like, pre-apprenticeship tools and resources, and more. The US government’s apprentice website also offers information about apprenticeships for manufacturing and more resources for helping your shop build its own program.

Manufacturing is looking at a skills gap in the future and apprenticeships are one way to help fill that gap. Apprenticeships offer shops a pipeline of new talent that comes with built-in experience. They offer employees the chance to earn money while they learn and a job once they’ve completed the program. Whether your shop joins a program that already exists or makes your own, you can be sure that you’ll get great, experienced employees out of it.

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