Doing the Job; Are apprenticeships for real or just a political flavor of the month?

July 2014

Doing the Job; Are apprenticeships for real or just a political flavor of the month? Career College Central Magazine, July 2014

If you throw enough stuff at a wall, eventually something good will stick – perhaps even a positive and proactive government program. In May, President Obama and Vice President Biden announced a $600 million job grant that emphasizes skill training. A similar program was suggested by President Bill Clinton in the early ‘90s, which would pin its hopes on apprenticeship programs in order to make the United States a more globally competitive entity and create jobs. Learn-on-the-job apprentice programs are the key to economic growth, allowing people trained in specific tasks to become productive parts of society. It is my opinion that this latest Washington initiative is a solid initiative, but its focus is too narrow and is destined to be at a high risk of failure.

Clearly, these dollars are destined for an already ailing community college industry plagued by shortfalls originating from poor educational offerings and financial difficulties. A burst of money presents the means for a short-lived positive, and then this positive once again fails where it began. The community college sector in theory is community-grounded, and yet tends not to be directly partnered to the small business private sector. The public community college industry today is perceived as another regulatory arm of the government, and small businesses are keeping it at a distance. Small business views government partnerships as unequal partnerships in which they do all the work and the government gains the benefits. Skill training to learn-on-the-job apprentice programs will work when our community launches the initiative from the small business private sector, where the non government, tax-revenue-generating jobs are located. The private sector is where most jobs are, and these need to be staffed; people need to be trained at the source of the employment demand.

On-the-job apprentice programs are tried and- true ideas that still can work. They work when the private sector leads and defines the programs based on genuine skills demand. Participating in an apprentice program that trains for job skills that are not in demand will result in a certificate for participants to hang on their wall, but no paying job. Skill training apprentice programs and skilled workforce demand must be married. There must be no question where the journey begins and ends. Skill training apprentice programs must be designed and deployed for quantifiable results. Community-launched job initiatives from the small business private sector work because they are directly connected with skills demand and paying jobs.

I did agree with the President when he suggested any employer is going to be fortunate to employ those who have been trained. He is correct in stating there are many citizens willing to work hard to support their families who do not currently have good jobs. Any money spent in this direction will yield a result. However, sustainable results must become the goal, the normality and the mission for all involved. An apprentice program should provide more ground level skills and be more demand-focused than simply serving as the political flavor of the month.  Someone should take the initiative and draft a letter to the President.

My letter would read as follows:

Dear Mr. President,

I was interested to hear about your recent $600 million job grant, but my private sector solution would focus more on how can we hire the apprentice, combined with the creation of specialized training and apprenticeship platforms to help folks land well-paying jobs. In my humble opinion, the goal of how can we hire the apprentice must be the only motive and the priority as we design and deploy an apprenticeship platform. We all understand that an apprenticeship can bring both the apprentice and employer major benefits, from increased productivity to helping people obtain experience in the workplace and earning a living while they learn. Perhaps we are too focused on the United States losing its competitive edge in a global economy against countries such as China, because they have already overtaken the United States and left us behind. We have forgotten how to lead. Here is a private sector solution focusing on simply leading:
• Self-assess: Ask the businesses to self-assess their own businesses rather than regulating them; empower businesses. Business community, look at your staffing needs taking into justification your strategic goals, including real and planned growth, your existing training, and business development plans. Decide where you will need additional staff in the business, and share this information within your own business community by business networking.

Share information: Businesses, now go get the support of your entire organization. By sharing the self-assessment information about what staffing needs you have and also sharing what apprenticeships are, their benefits and how to plan them, you can secure the backing of your organization. Support should be all-inclusive, from the shop floor sweeper to the president. Encouraging questions from across the entire business promotes an understanding of staffing needs from the ground up.
• Create partnerships: Form a relationship with the training organization and encourage them to come into the workplace. Discuss how and where the training will be provided, what is expected from you and the organization, and the method of feedback for progress and attendance. This training support organization depends on the size of your business; it can be either an internal or an external organization.
• Recruit: Now it is time to recruit your apprentice. Have your internal and external training organization announce the position and start the interviews and general support process. The entire business should treat the recruitment as you would any other vacancy. Once you’ve appointed your apprentice, treat him or her as you would any new employee.
• Measure and report: Examining metrics and evaluating value is essential for the apprentice and your business, as it presents the opportunity to review progress and give feedback.


Dr. Pete Savo

The President’s initiative is a good one, but its focus is too narrow. Skill training to learn-on-the-job apprentice programs will work when our community launches the initiative from the small business private sector. To reiterate, on-the-job apprentice programs work when the private sector leads and defines the programs based on genuine skills demand. Skill training apprentice programs and skilled workforce demand must be married, to make it obvious where the journey begins and ends. It’s time for the United States to remember how to lead by empowering businesses to self-assess, share information, create business partnerships, recruit their apprentices, review metrics and progress, and benefit from the resulting value.

by AMERICAN WRITER Dr. Pietro Savo Tradition Books Publication © 2014

Manufacturing Research Practitioner ™ by Dr. Pietro Savo

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About Dr. Pietro Savo

Dr. Pietro (Pete) Savo is a Principal Consultant with over 28 years of diverse experience in Business Strategy Improvement (BSI), Leadership Development, Operations, Engineering, Manufacturing, Quality Systems, Material Management, Supply Chain, Union Shop and consulting environments. Pietro created the term Manufacturing Research Practitioner ™ as the foundation for his Doctoral thesis dedicated to improving the United States Manufacturing Industry.  Dr. Savo has lectured at, Boeing Aircraft, Lockheed Martin, Rolls Royce, Northup Grumman, Raytheon and United Technologies on various subjects such as Lean Thinking, Leadership, Team Building, Quality Systems ISO Registrar Selection and Root Cause Analysis. Taught Root Cause Analysis for American Society for Quality (ASQ). Customized Training Specialties Leadership & Culture & Conflict Resolution Made Simple Root Cause Analysis (RCA) Problem Solving & Mistake-Proof It! Lean Manufacturing & The 6S's: Workplace Organization Evolving Quality Systems ISO 9001:2000/AS 9100:2000 Industry Evolution Building Business with the United States Government and Prime Contractors New Project Bidding Team Improvement Training “Know Your Front End” Published: Root Cause Analysis System for Problem Solving and Problem Avoidance Published: PERFECTION - 10 Secrets to Successful Lean Manufacturing Implementation. United States Navy Veteran View all posts by Dr. Pietro Savo

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