Tech Sector Apprenticeships Offer Pathways to Success

“Many years ago, there was one lone person on the hill dancing to the tune of apprenticeship; that person was Tim Hebert.” stated Andrew Cortes in introducing the Chief Managed Services Officer, Carousel Industries/ CEO Founder Trilix Tech and facilitator of Building Futures ‘Tech Talent through Apprenticeship Showcase.’ He went on to add, “Through Tim’s enthusiasm and commitment, the Registered Apprenticeship model has proven to be an effective approach to addressing the needs of the IT industry in Rhode Island and nationwide.”  Scott Jensen, Director, RI DOL and Brian Hull, Director of Economic Opportunity, City of Providence, joined three leading RI tech companies in sharing how the apprenticeship model ensures that residents have the skills and opportunities to have meaningful, well-paying careers that support Rhode Island’s industries’ demands.

Jamie Boughman, Technical Director, Managed Services at Carousel Industries shared his thoughts on the benefits of apprenticeship, “Apprentices are working and creating value for the company within two to four weeks.” Jonathan Buchanan, IT Operations Manager, Claflin Co./CME added, “In technology, we can get set in our ways; interacting with apprentices brings in new ideas and passion.”

Apprenticeship is a ‘win-win’ as companies benefit from untapped, diverse talent and apprentices are able to ‘earn while they learn’. Vertikal6 Apprentice & Panelist, John Loven, spoke to the personal impact of Apprenticeship, “When I saw the apprenticeship opportunity, I literally knocked on the door and asked to speak to the hiring manager. Two weeks later, I was taking calls, working tickets, and learning new things every day on the job.”  Tim Hebert summarized, “Apprenticeships are so powerful because they can take people from a variety of different backgrounds and really change the trajectory of their careers and their earning potential.  Talk about changing lives.”

The Tech Talent through Apprenticeship Showcase was hosted by Building Futures on November 15 in celebration of National Apprenticeship Week 2018. 

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Celebrate Veterans!


Senator Jack Reed joins Building Futures in Celebrating RI’s veterans

On November 9th, Building Futures, the organizational home of Apprenticeship RI, partnered with Senator Jack Reed to recognize and honor RI’s veteran apprentices. The Registered Apprenticeship model is demonstrating significant success in ensuring meaningful and high quality employment for veterans, while also addressing employer and industry needs. This heartfelt panel enabled the sharing of best practices from both the employer and veteran perspectives.

Senator Jack Reed praised Rhode Island for its commitment to the apprenticeship model – both in traditional construction trades and in non-traditional industries.  Statewide, there are 1800 Registered Apprentices, including 114 veterans.

Andrew Cortes, Building Futures’ Executive Director, noted, “We have seen that Apprenticeship is a particularly good fit for transitioning service members because it is paid employment from day one – providing skill development and wage advancement within a short period of time.” Jayleen Roman, US Coast Guard Veteran, underscored this point, “The Maritime Pipefitting and Welding Apprenticeship at General Dynamics Electric Boat enables me to combine post-secondary education and full-time work with the full support of my employer. It allows me to support my family and continue to serve my country.”

Employers benefit as much as the veterans. Kasim Yarn, Director or the RI Office of Veterans Affairs added, “Veterans bring a host of success factors including communication, responsibility, and teamwork that transfer to apprenticeship.”  In fact, at AstroNova, Inc. 47% of the apprentices in its new Electronics Technician Apprenticeship are veterans.

The panelists were united on the importance on promoting the Registered Apprenticeship model to Veterans. Director Yarn emphasized, “Veterans deserve good, solid civilian careers; the Registered Apprenticeship model ensures this outcome. Veterans can use their G.I. Bill Benefits for apprenticeships and they can also get credit for prior learning based on military service, accelerating program completion. It’s a winning combination for veterans, employers and our country.”

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Tech Talent through Apprenticeship Showcase

In Celebration of National Apprenticeship Week, Building Futures is showcasing important work employers in Rhode Island have been doing to develop new tech talent in their companies through Registered Apprenticeship.

Please join us.  November 15, 2018 at 8 am

Building Futures | Apprenticeship Rhode Island
One Acorn street, Providence, RI

Learn more and RSVP

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Providence Community Health Centers & SEIU 1199 NE Celebrate Apprenticeship Launch

It all started with a staffing challenge.  How could Providence Community Health Centers (PCHC) develop highly skilled Medical Assistants who are fully proficient in delivery of care at every practice site? With the support of the Governor’s Workforce Board Non-Trade Apprenticeship Development Grant, PCHC brought a team together comprised of Human Resources, Operations, Education & Training, SEIU1199 delegates and current Medical Assistants.  In short, Rhode Island College will provide related instruction leading to national certification.  Medical Assistants will rotate to different sites including: Adult Medicine, Pediatrics, Obstetrics, Podiatry and Optometry during their on-the-job learning.  They will be supported by a Preceptor at each rotation with the goal of becoming fully competent at each practice site.  Successful completion of the apprenticeship program will result in a wage increase and a certification of completion from the State of Rhode Island.

On October 11, PCHC launched their Apprenticeship program with a Celebration Breakfast.   PCHC CEO, Merrill Thomas recognized the four apprentices selected as well as the internal team of PCHC professionals and SEIU1199 partners and delegates.  Andrew Cortés, Executive Director of Building Futures | Apprenticeship RI, spoke to the commitment to community that PCHC has demonstrated, and the career path that apprenticeship represents.  If you have lost your path while hiking, then you know the fear that comes with losing your way.  Like a path in the woods, Apprenticeship provides the space and direction to reach your career goal – even when you encounter obstacles along the way.”

PCHC’s Apprenticeship program would not be possible without generous funding from the Healthcare Career Advancement Program (H-CAP), a national labor/management organization that promotes innovation and quality in healthcare career education.  Thanks also to PVD HealthWorks for their role in supporting a trained Medical Assistant cohort to back-fill Apprentices’ time spent in training.

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Bristol Marine: Career Growth through Apprenticeship

What do you get when you match outstanding client service with skilled craftsmanship?  Founded by Andy Tyska in 1998, Bristol Marine sets themselves apart by being customer focused and delivering a personalized level of service based on clients’ needs.  Maintaining this organizational philosophy requires a dedicated and trained workforce; apprenticeship is a natural fit.

One of the key roles in a boat yard, and perhaps hardest to fill, is the Marine Service Manager position, which provides an important intermediary role between the client, boat yard team and marina staff.  “The biggest challenge in hiring someone new for the role was fitting into our hard-work, client-focused culture. It was always a gamble.” explains Patrick McLoughlin, Vice President of Operations.

The Rhode Island Marine Trades Association (RIMTA), in partnership with Apprenticeship RI, is helping to solve this challenge. In the Marine Support Service Manager Apprenticeship program, current employees, from either an administrative or technical background, are trained in a part-time support role with the potential for promotion to Marine Service Manager. Mr. Mcloughlin adds, “This program has allowed us to create a curriculum specific to Bristol Marine that encourages promising employees to develop the skills that will give them more opportunity for career growth.”

RIMTA, co-located at Bristol Marine, has a long-standing appreciation for the benefits and impact of the apprenticeship model. This new partnership with Apprenticeship RI expands upon RIMTA’s successful pre-apprenticeship program, which provides a trained talent pipeline to their members. “Our partnership with Apprenticeship RI has expanded the range of workforce benefits that we provide to our employer members. We are excited to offer a hands-on training program that supports the retention and advancement of talented staff. ” says Wendy Mackie, Executive Director of RIMTA.  Current apprentices, Brendan Prior and Jared Lachance, agree that the apprenticeship program’s hands-on learning approach has been effective in helping them gain the new skills and knowledge needed to advance their careers. Brendan states, “Exposure to classroom training and real world challenges in the workplace allows me to really understand and look forward to my new position.”

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What do Switzerland and Rhode Island have in Common?

Jobs Now report cover

It turns out, they have quite a bit in common when it comes to Apprenticeship. Both “ecosystems,” as Governor Raimondo put it, closely resemble each other when it comes to vocational education and training systems.  “Both put employers in the driver’s seat – letting employers identify their own skills needs and develop their own job-training solutions.”

The Swiss have long been known for their apprenticeship system, where young people are trained for skilled jobs that are in high demand. The private sector drives initiatives to recruit and train young people and provide jobs, in turn gaining skilled employees.  The United States has caught on to the success of this model.  Since 2015, the countries have begun “cooperating more intensively on specific aspects” of vocational education with the Swiss, as highlighted in Accenture’s JOBS NOW Swiss-Style Vocational Education and Training.

Governor Raimondo, one of the U.S. leaders highlighted in the report, touts Rhode Island’s bold moves supporting employers in designing and launching custom apprenticeship programs during her tenure as governor.

“Businesses drive every apprenticeship program in Rhode Island and we customize every program for each employer. Businesses benefit by lowering their cost of recruitment, growing talent in house, and developing a systematic and consistent approach to training that results in the highest skill levels required for the job. All this helps employers’ competitiveness and profitability.” (p.88)

Raimondo describes the infrastructure that has been put in place to support apprenticeship cutting through red tape, eliminated fees, and establishing training incentives.  Apprenticeship RI is exceeding expectations having helped employers create apprenticeships in dozens of occupations outside the construction trades.  Rhode Island’s may have taken cues from the Swiss in expanding apprenticeship, but all of this adds up to creating good jobs now on both sides of the Atlantic.

For more information, visit Accenture’s Jobs Now Report: Swiss-Style Vocational Education and Training; Voices from companies, governors, and CEOs.

See also related article in Forbes:  Jobs Now! Learning From The Swiss Apprenticeship Model


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Apprenticeship Works for RI Manufacturing Small Business

Apprenticeship RI is pleased to welcome RI Heat Treating as the latest manufacturer to embrace Apprenticeship in Rhode Island.  At the referral of Polaris MEP, Apprenticeship RI was introduced to Mary and Bob Emerson, owners of RI Heat Treating, who were looking for a way to train reliable employees to the highest level with an eye towards passing along their business someday.

Heat Treating is the process in which a metal is heated to a certain temperature and then cooled in a particular manner to alter its internal structure for obtaining a desired physical property.  This process often improves mechanical properties needed for many industries such as automotive, electronics and machine tooling.  “Heat Treating is really a science.” says Mary Emerson.

Bob, a nationally recognized expert in Heat Treating, learned the business at age 16 from his family and is now interested in passing his knowledge to the next generation.  Mary is a certified k-12 teacher and has taught in Rhode Island for 28 years.  Mary has also collaborated with CCRI to customize manufacturing curriculum for adult learners and spearheaded the creation of a job training center in Quonset Industrial Park.  Mary has designed an in-house curriculum to cover the job-related classroom training required for Apprenticeship.

“We are proud of our employees, Dan and Efrain.  We interviewed a lot of candidates before finding the “right” people who were looking for a commitment to a career, not just a job.  Ideally we wanted to hire employees who shared our work ethic and wanted to learn a skill through their life’s work.   “The Apprenticeship model fits our work environment and values.  It allows us to clearly define & measure on the job skills while passing down our knowledge.  Best of all, upon successful achievement of competencies, our employees will earn an Apprenticeship credential that is recognized by the State of Rhode Island.”

Through the no-cost technical assistance provided by Apprenticeship RI, RI Heat Treating was able to custom-design their apprenticeship program to fit their business needs and access the Governor’s Workforce Board Non-Trade Apprenticeship Incentive.

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Celebrating Educational Milestones in Apprenticeship at Women & Infants Hospital

It is often said that to implement and operate a great Apprenticeship Program, it takes a village.  That statement was evident on Thursday, June 21st when Women & Infants Hospital and SEIU 1199NE celebrated educational milestones through Registered Apprenticeship in Medical Coding and for the Medical Assistants in the Obstetrics and Gynecology Care Center (OGCC ).  Training completed by Medical Interpreters was also celebrated.

These Apprenticeship programs represent ongoing collaboration between Care New England, Women & Infants Hospital and SEIU 1199NE.  The Healthcare Career Advancement Program provided technical support.  Rhode Island College, Libman Education and UMass Medical School provided training.  Real Jobs RI assisted with funding. Apprenticeship Rhode Island was proud to work alongside such excellent partners.

In-Patient Medical Coder Apprentices at Women & Infants have been enrolled in Certified Coder Specialist (CCS) training to prepare them for the rigorous five-hour CCS certification exam. Medical Coders will complete the coursework in August, prepared to take the CCS exam in fall.  While enrolled, they are also learning on the job.   Through the skilled mentorship of Donna Sprague, Kathy Rickard and Leslie Lamar, apprentices will be trained in hands-on learning while they earn paycheck.   Jen Couri, Director of Coding at Care New England, noted the Registered Apprenticeship program has brought the team closer together. Importantly, the bill-hold is nearly ten times lower than before the apprenticeship was established.

In the Obstetrics and Gynecology Care Center (OGCC), current CNAs were selected as Apprentices, now upskilling to become Medical Assistants.  All eight Apprentices completed a 147-hour certification program through Rhode Island College.  This was a huge achievement for apprentices working full-time, plus taking classes with weekly reading and tests, along with a research project presentation.  Supervisor Melissa Maher could not be more proud of their dedication and persistence.  She was also moved by the way they worked as a team to help each other succeed.  Pascal Thomas, their beloved RIC instructor, will return for several more sessions during their on the job learning.  Medical Assistants are expected to complete their apprenticeship program this fall.


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How does apprenticeship take us to a more sustainable world?

How does apprenticeship take us to a more sustainable world? A great question.  For Rhode Island Nursery and Landscape Association (RINLA) it is about knowledge to create and maintain green infrastructure and landscape based resiliency.

As highlighted in Growing Horticulture Careers in Rhode Island, RINLA’s apprenticeship program is about raising the sophistication of “Green Collar Jobs.”   Through collaboration with the New York based firm KK&P (Karen Karp and Partners), which “inspires, provokes and generates food systems innovation,” RINLA has developed a registered apprenticeship program to “recruit, train, and retain the next generation of “green collar” career seekers.” (KK&P). Through the program, employers from a wide range of horticulture, environmental, agriculture and landscape businesses will be able to find the workers they need, provide training, and a create a sustainable workforce.

KK&P has worked with RINLA and the many businesses that are a part of the association to learn more about the needs of individual employers, and how these needs can be addressed in the apprenticeship model. According to Shannon Brawley, the Executive Director of RINLA, “The Rhode Island Nursery and Landscape Association believes in the Apprenticeship model – what’s not to love about a model that provides employees a way to earn while you learn, provides education that meets the standards and needs of industry, provides a valuable communication tool for employers and employees, provides young people with a career pathway with living wages and begins to solve many other issues facing green industry and our community.”

That’s exactly why, over the next 5 years, KK&P will work with RINLA to implement a sustainable apprenticeship program for the organization, with the possibility of expanding to nationwide organizations. As the first cohort of 30 apprentices launched in February, RINLA is optimistic that the apprentices will follow meaningful careers in the agricultural and green industries, and that the registered apprenticeship program will provide a model for workforce development both in Rhode Island and across the nation.

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Following the numbers to Apprenticeship

Rhode Island’s “secret closet economist, “ Governor Gina Raimondo was featured on Freakonomics Radio January 10th.  We recommend you take a listen: How to Be a Modern Democrat — and Win.

In the interview with Stephen Dubner, Gina talked about why she is moving mountains to find money to invest in education, workforce development, and infrastructure, and being hard-nosed about following the numbers.  “We have put in place a system to measure the outcomes of our job training and we get rid of programs that are not resulting in jobs.”

“When I took office, I knew I wanted to talk about job training, education, and apprenticeships. Previously we had a train and pray model:  Train people, then pray they get a job. “  We live in the age of evidence based-medicine and data-driven marketing. The evidence-based approach pays dividends in guiding the way the state spends its education dollars.  And the evidence leads us to Apprenticeship.

Governor Raimondo brings it all back to the basics.  “What most people crave is a decent job with economic security, so if you are afraid to talk to business, or appear too close to business, it is hard to actually tap into people’s real and legitimate anxiety about the economy because folks just want a job.  What do you want for your kids?  You want them to be happy and have a steady job. “

Governor Raimondo spoke of being inspired by the success of apprenticeship in Europe.  “I believe in really pushing the limits of apprenticeship, and not just for traditional plumbing, pipefitting, and welding.  What we are doing in Rhode Island around apprenticeship is cybersecurity technician, community nurses, public health people, IT employees, and computer techs.  The days of going to high school and getting a decent job are sadly behind us, so we have got to retool.  The apprenticeship model can be very effective to get folks high-end skills, advanced skills to get a decent job and keep a decent job.”

Freakonomics Radio.  January 10, 2018, “How to be a Modern Democrat, and Win.”

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