Guest Commentator: Edison Freire, Director of Gateway Initiatives, JEVS Human Services @jevshumanservs

How can employers integrate apprenticeship opportunities into existing development strategies?

Although it may seem like just another buzz word for business and political leaders, apprenticeship is, in fact, a centuries-old best practice for training the workforce. In the United States, this approach has primarily been used in the building of trades. However, businesses from various sectors — including IT, health care, manufacturing, hospitality, and business services — have begun utilizing the model to onboard new employees and upskill current staff, in part as a response to tight labor markets, talent gaps, and an aging workforce.

The concept is rather simple: new workers are trained on the job by someone more experienced while also receiving technical instruction in their craft. By learning the role on-site with a mentor, apprentices are immersed in company culture and tasks are contextualized to the specific workplace; this process is outlined in a training plan based on “roles and responsibilities” from the job description.

Apprenticeships also establish a timeframe and assessments for new employees to master skills and knowledge. Technical instruction, facilitated by educational partners or in-house trainers, provides sound theoretical knowledge and required credentials. As is fairly standard business practice already, skill attainment is tied to wage-increases — incentivizing continued learning and partly offsetting costs. This investment in workers provides returns in the short and long term, increasing staff productivity, skill-sets, morale, and retention while reducing loss and turnover.

The federal government provides a framework for establishing “registered apprenticeships;” however, the purpose is to prepare workers to become fully skilled in particular roles. The training plans and program parameters are ultimately developed and implemented by employers and industry groups. Apprenticeships can be used to create pipelines for diverse new talent and advance current employees to higher positions, cross-train staff in multiple roles, and ensure workers are prepared with the skills and credentials to meet industry standards. This flexible, employer-driven model not only supports business growth and change management such as new technology implementation or expansion of locations, products, or services; it can also provide for a competitive advantage by leveraging your most valuable asset, your workers!

Ready to start your program? As an apprenticeship intermediary, JEVS Human Services can provide guidance to employers through the design of administrative tasks required to start a program. JEVS can also help enhance your current recruitment, orientation, and training practices while connecting you with skilled candidates, saving you valuable time and resources. For more information, visit www.jevshumanservices.org/apprenticeships or email apprenticeships@jevs.org


In recognition of National Apprenticeship Week, JEVS Human Services is publishing a four-part series to explain how the organization is embarking on filling Philadelphia’s skills gap by introducing apprenticeships to employers and job seekers. Interested in learning more? Check out the various events happening in the region for National Apprenticeship Week which runs November 11 – 17, 2019.

In addition, JEVS Human Services is a member of the Chamber’s Talent Action Team, a cross-disciplinary group of 120+ leaders focused on creating clear pathways for the alignment between individuals and employers to assure that we are training and engaging the region’s current and future leaders.