Removing the Perceived Barriers to Apprenticeship Development

As the struggle for talent continues, more companies, large and small, are realizing the need to create their own talent pipelines through apprenticeship. Still, many perceive the process toward a United States Department of Labor-approved apprenticeship as long and confusing.

The Workforce Intelligence Network (WIN) has helped companies streamline the process to implement apprenticeship programs more quickly through its Registered Apprenticeship Program in a Day (RAPiD) Workshops. Now WIN can offer employers additional support to manage the development of apprenticeships and the ongoing reporting procedures required by the DOL through the WIN Apprenticeship Program. This support comes at no cost to the employer, through the Advance Michigan Center for Apprenticeship Innovation, a DOL American Apprenticeship Innovation grant awarded to WIN.

The grant supports the WIN Apprenticeship Program, which can help companies of any size establish apprenticeships by providing valuable assistance, including:

  • Supplying sample programs for existing occupations or support for creating a new one.
  • Providing guidance in developing customized apprentice training plans.
  • Serving as the “go-between” with the DOL to meet deadlines and gain approvals.
  • Managing ongoing tracking and reporting required by the DOL to show progress and outcomes.

“WIN explained the entire process in-depth, on macro and micro levels, to help us figure out how we meet the Department of Labor’s guidelines,” said Jamie Kothe, CEO, and co-founder of Detroit School for Digital Technology. “Early on, it became clear that WIN would take an active role in our success. My organization has had some experience in apprenticeship development, but WIN streamlined that process for us and made sure that by the time we were done, every possible question had been answered.”

A DOL-registered apprenticeship ensures apprentices are trained against a clear roadmap – defined by their employer – describing what they will learn both at work and in the classroom. The DOL requires any company seeking to establish a registered apprenticeship program to define, in a formally written outline:

  • Selection criteria (who qualifies as an apprentice).
  • On-the-job training (what they will experience at the workplace).
  • Curriculum (what courses they will take in the classroom).
  • Basic operational procedures of the program (how the program will run).
  • Outcomes of its program (what credentials they will finish the program with and wage expectations).

By joining the WIN Apprenticeship program, companies are able to bypass or expedite the development of these documents with WIN’s support and guidance.

WIN Working With You, For You

Through the WIN Apprenticeship Program, WIN can manage the program development process on the company’s behalf and at the end stage, the company makes a commitment to adhere to the program as established with the DOL.

To further expedite the process, WIN has apprenticeship programs already approved and available for seven occupations, which can be used as written or adjusted to meet a particular company’s needs without starting from scratch. These occupations include: Electrician, Career Development Technician, Mechatronics Technician (both time-based and competency-based), Die Maker, Direct Support Professional, and CNC Programmer. WIN also has IT apprenticeship options through Apprenti.

“WIN really opened my eyes to the possibilities of making apprenticeship work for us. We had a short window to register our apprenticeship in order for our apprentice to qualify for coursework funding support,” said Kelly Victor-Burke, CEO majority owner of Burke Architectural Millwork. “WIN helped us use an existing apprenticeship program to get us started, and then worked with us to develop our own specific program. When we’re finished, we’ll have an apprenticeship program for a Millwork Manufacturing Specialist.”

Once the apprenticeship has been established, WIN also serves in a monitoring role to help the company meet DOL tracking and reporting requirements. To do this, WIN provides an online reporting tool called Work Hands, giving apprentices and supervisors the ability to update their program status online or through an app and review real-time progress reports. This online portal generates the necessary reports for possible annual program audits and allows employers and apprentices the ability to see their progress on demand.

“Innovation is what drives my company, and technology is important to us to fuel our work and attract younger employees into the profession,” said Victor-Burke. “When we found out we would be one of the first in Michigan to use the online reporting tool to achieve our goals, we were immediate hand-raisers.”

Added Kothe, “WIN helped me come up with an assessment rubric to gauge success and accomplishment in a way I hadn’t thought about before. And the team is so helpful in reminding us about upcoming reports and ensuring we feel comfortable delivering them.”

Already, eight Michigan companies have joined the WIN Apprenticeship Program and are running DOL-approved programs WIN helped them develop. Companies that are interested in joining the WIN Apprenticeship Program should contact