Secrets to success


Partner4Work in Pennsylvania researched a series of case studies on apprenticeship expansion and gave a nice shout-out to Apprenticeship RI.  They see Apprenticeship RI’s relentless focus on employers as a key success factor.  All of the new Rhode Island apprenticeship programs are employer-driven, instigated by business needs, and designed around a company’s specific workforce challenges. 

Start with Incumbent Workers

Most of the employers Apprenticeship RI has worked with were interested in incumbent worker-training first.  Focusing on existing employees de-risked the approach for employers and helped them get onboard.  Once employers adopted apprenticeship and got to know the structured training approach, more of them have started to use Registered Apprenticeship as a training and recruitment tool for new hires.

Union Support and Collaboration

While the majority of Apprenticeship RI’s programs are non-union, those programs where a union has taken a leadership role and collaborated on program design are a bit stronger. 

Cultivating Champions

Apprenticeship creates its own champions because it works.  Apprenticeship RI has cultivated employer champions in all the industries it serves.  These champions provide valuable word-of-mouth promotion for apprenticeship.  Moreover, Apprenticeship works for workers.  Like a path in the woods, the apprenticeship model shows the way for employees to grow their value to their employer and their career.

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Moving Up: Brown Medicine’s LPNs

The most import lesson in workforce development: Listen to your employees.

That’s exactly what Brown Medicine did, and through a partnership with Apprenticeship Rhode Island developed a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) Apprenticeship program; providing an opportunity for growth within the company that wasn’t available before.

“The number one motivator for us in developing this program with Apprenticeship RI was the feedback from our annual employee survey, where the medical assistants and secretaries said they didn’t feel they had a pathway for growth”, says Tammy Lederer, Chief Human Resources Officer. Apprenticeship RI worked with Tammy and members of the medical staff to develop a Registered Apprenticeship; a learn and earn model which incorporates industry standards, education and on-the-job training into a program with built-in wage increases as apprentices gain new skills.

Brown Medicine’s 2nd cohort of apprentices began in 2018 with three Medical Assistants; who took on the program’s challenging schedule of enrolling in the Practical Nurse program at the Community College of Rhode Island, while working full-time within their ambulatory practice site. No easy task when you consider that each of these women have families and responsibilities in addition to their work. But through it all they’ve gained valuable skills. Jennifer Barbosa states that she feels “more confident talking to patients” while Karissa Wellhausen shared that the “hands-on part was good for me, because it’s a challenge versus what I did as a Medical Assistant and I’m interested in the hands on skills and being able to do that stuff like feeding tubes and IV’s.”

While the work and educational requirements of the Apprenticeship were formidable, each of these women are grateful to Brown Medicine. “If it wasn’t for Brown Medicine initiating this and getting this started, I still feel like I would be saying “Oh maybe next year.  I feel like that was the biggest push for me,” says Jennifer. “If they didn’t do this I probably would still be contemplating how I could go back to school and finish.”

Brown Medicine’s Licensed Practical Nurse Apprenticeship was one of four nursing apprenticeship programs featured in a recent article by New America for its application and innovation. “We wanted to create a pathway for them to grow professionally, says Lederer, and this provided that opportunity”.  For these women, the apprenticeship provided a boost in reaching their career goals. “It has been challenging and we’ve passed it;” says Erin Tetreault, “we can go on, we can be nurses now.”

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Tech companies turn to apprenticeships

Norberg said Vertikal6’s one-year, paid, full-time apprenticeships have become the key to recruiting and developing employees. “It’s not just about training people,” he said. “It’s about finding the right person with the ability to fit into our [company] culture.”

Read more in PBN.

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The Providence Center Case Manager Apprenticeship Program sees Immediate Results

The Providence Center (TPC) recently rolled out its Case Manager Career Ladder, a tiered advancement framework, using the Registered Apprenticeship model.   The program was offered to the entire Case Management staff as a way to increase their skills, obtain certification and further their careers.  Almost all of the staff opted to participate and 90 new Apprentices began this summer.

The Apprenticeship pairs structured on-the-job learning with classroom learning and includes a salary increase upon completion of each of the three levels.   Vickie Walters, Care New England’s Director of Workforce Development, worked to develop this program for over a year with input from current TPC case managers. “Case managers are the unsung heroes of behavioral health, and we wanted to provide them with something tangible to understand how they can meet expectations and be competent in their role,” said Walters.

Rhode Island College (RIC) plays a key role in this partnership, as the primary source for classroom learning at each level.  During Level 1 of the program, RIC delivers an on-site 60-hour training program towards Community Support Professional (CSP) certification.   “Previously, the certification training was offered through one organization with limited capacity.  “It was challenging for us to reach our mandated staff certification outcomes.” Says Jillian Pastina, Director Residential Services, Nursing & Workforce Development.  “Rhode Island College has been an essential partner in customizing their training to meet our needs, including making the effort to be recognized  through the State as a CSP training institution.  Now, we are able to offer much more predictable and flexible options for our staff.”  Rhode Island College has also customized trainings to provide specialized training, as well as leadership training, to encourage the next generation of mentors and supervisors.

Measurable success in this program was shown through ROI data.  TPC had been experiencing an 8% attrition rate.  In the first three months of the Apprenticeship program the rate dropped to 2%.  “We never imagined such dramatic results.”  said Walters.  “The Apprentice program has positively impacted our bottom line and improved patient care.”

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Rhode Island promotes EEO in Apprenticeship with free anti-harassment training

Rhode Island is hoping to nudge Apprenticeship Sponsors to provide anti-harassment training to workers by offering training sessions on January 17th and February 14.  The sessions will be free and available for registration on a first come first serve basis.

Many Apprenticeship Sponsors in our state are small employers, and for small employers this will be the easiest way to offer the interactive, participatory training required by federal law.

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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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