Connect with us

Talent Management

Fix the skills gap: 4 keys to get apprenticeships started at your company now



If you’re like most HR pros, you struggle with the skills gap. Employees and job candidates don’t quite have the skills you want.

More than 80% of organizations report a skills gap, according to a report from the Association for Talent Development. Reasons vary from the pandemic and increased resignations to changing technology and an aging workforce.

To fill the gap — or perhaps get it aligned — apprenticeships might be your answer.

Think past traditional apprenticeships

Before you shake off the idea, get the traditional apprenticeships out of your head. Today’s apprenticeships can be for almost any role, not just those in the trades — such as boilermakers, carpenters, electricians and plumbers, which have always used this approach.

Apprenticeships are growing in IT, cybersecurity, engineering, healthcare, project management, account management and graphic design.

“The benefits to employers who adopt {apprenticeships} are significant – candidates stay longer because they feel their employer has invested in them and they have seen the job opportunities available,” says Rya Conrad-Bradshaw, VP of Corporate Markets at Cengage Work, part of Cengage Group. “Employers can ensure the skilling pathways are custom-built to their specific needs so productivity can be higher, particularly amidst a rapidly changing skills landscape, like cyber.”

Reasons to adopt programs

But apprenticeships can be more than just a pathway for new hires from high schools and community colleges into your hard-to-fill roles.

You might use apprenticeship programs to help current employees gain the skills you need for the near future. Almost 60% of the workforce needs new skills to do their jobs successfully, according to research from Gartner. With the emergence of AI and its impact on the workplace, nearly everyone will likely have to gain or adjust skills.

Need more incentive? Many apprenticeship programs are eligible for “significant state and federal grants to support employer-driven models like train-to-hire and apprenticeship to help defray the cost,” explains Conrad-Bradshaw.

Here are four keys to get an apprenticeship program off the ground and make it work:

1. Choose the type, know the laws

You can build a registered or non-registered apprenticeship program (or work with a third party such as Cengage). The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) offers a full toolkit to help companies kickstart a registered apprenticeship program.

You’ll have to comply with specific state and federal guidelines to be considered an official apprenticeship with national, industry-recognized credentials. Most requirements vary by region and industry but the DOL gives detailed information about federal and local laws that might affect your apprenticeship program..

Meanwhile, non-registered apprenticeship programs are employer-based to serve internal needs. With this, you’d have more flexibility on levels of training and support.

2. Start with what you have

You might have the tools to start or enhance an apprenticeship program at your fingertips already. Look more closely at your Learning Management System (LMS) software to see if there’s existing coursework or tools to customize something for your organization.

You might launch a digital apprenticeship program for roles that require less hands-on work and more technology-based work. You might amplify the LMS-generated teaching with mentoring from training coaches or expert colleagues on the job.

3. Find your candidates

Here’s the good news: You shouldn’t struggle to to find candidates for a good apprenticeship program. Candidates are increasingly interested in train-to-hire programs.

“When we launched our first train-to-hire offering – Ready to Hire for Healthcare, we had more than 1,000 applicants within four weeks,” says Conrad-Bradshaw.

Try partnering with high schools, community colleges, second-chance hiring groups and military veteran organizations, plus others in your industry, to make it easier for candidates to find out and apply for your program — even while it’s in the making.

Once your apprenticeship program is shaped and formal, you might want to seek job candidates on the national apprenticeship search site or use sites that are targeted to your specific area or industry. 

The critical key: This shouldn’t be a one-off on hiring. You want to build non-traditional recruiting, hiring and apprenticing into the talent pipeline so it becomes easy to for you to fill and candidates to see the benefits.

4. Show the benefits

Apprenticeships almost always mean actual work off the bat. So to attract and keep good apprentices, you want to compensate and reward them quickly.

For instance, Mission Cloud started a program to bridge the tech talent skills gap and help people break into the cloud computing industry. It’s open to anyone — students, employees, career changers. To find new candidates, they partnered with VA chapters, schools and industry organizations, like we suggested above.

One key to the success: It’s a paid apprenticeship program. The six-month paid program also includes healthcare and development. At the end, apprentices are already fully integrated into the company. 

Similarly, at Cengage, “trainees and apprenticeships are able to ‘learn-and-earn,’ working while they complete the necessary training to succeed in the job,” says Conrad-Bradshaw.

What’s more, most apprentices get a graduated wage as they gain more skills and experience and spend more time working and less time in formal training.

“Though the ROI is clear, it can take an effort with business leaders, talent acquisition, and learning and development to set up,” notes Conrad-Bradshaw.

Read the full article here