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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Apprenticeship Rhode Island Announces Five New Partnerships-

Recipients selected for Non-Trade Apprenticeship Development GrantsAs was recently posted by the Governor’s Workforce Board (GWB) here , five new recipients were selected for 2018 non-trade development grants through the GWB to help develop new innovative apprenticeship programs. The GWB is Rhode Island’s primary policy-making body focused on workforce development matters. Non-Trade Apprenticeship Development Grants fund the development and expansion of innovative apprenticeship models in occupations outside of the traditional trades.

Apprenticeship Rhode Island will provide design and technical assistance to support the award recipients and is excited to help these employers create new career opportunities for Rhode Islanders.

The 2018 Award recipients include:

Marine Industry Training and Education Council (MITEC), Marine Service Technician Apprenticeship.

Partners and Employer Sponsors: The Hinckley Company, New England Tech, American Boat Builders and Repairers Association.

Rhode Island Hospitality Education Foundation, Line Cook Apprenticeship.

Partners and Employer Sponsors: Gregg’s Restaurant and Tavern, Davies Career and Technical High School, Rhode Island Hospitality Association.

Care New England, Community Health Worker Apprenticeship.

Partners and Employer Sponsors: Care New England Healthcare System, SEIU 1199NE, Rhode Island College, United Way of Rhode Island, Skills for RI’s Future, Healthcare Career Advancement Program (H-CAP).

Providence Community Health Centers, Certified Medical Assistant Apprenticeship.

Partners and Employer Sponsors: Providence Community Healthcare Centers, SEIU 1199NE, Healthcare Career Advancement Program (H-CAP).

Rhode Island Institute for Labor Studies and Research, Call Center Customer Service Apprenticeship.

Partners and Employer Sponsors: Higher Ed Partners/Student Resource Center, LLC, Office & Professional Employees International Union, Local 25.

GWB Executive Director Heather Hudson noted that “Based on last year’s success, the GWB is funding five development grants in 2018 to provide critical seed funding to employers using the Registered Apprenticeship model to introduce new occupations, create career pathways and open the door to new hires helping to build Rhode Island’s economy and providing family-sustaining employment for more Rhode Islanders”

Last year’s Non-Trade Apprenticeship Development Programs grants funded the development and implementation of four new Registered Apprenticeship programs. The programs have expanded apprenticeship to new occupations in Rhode Island, which are now flourishing at:

  • Brown Medicine (formerly University Medicine), LPN Apprenticeship, in partnership with the Community College of Rhode Island.
  • Seascape Lawn Care Inc., Professional Land Care Specialist Apprenticeship, in partnership with the Rhode Island Nursery and Landscape Association.
  • Rhode Island Parent Information Network (RIPIN), Community Health Worker Apprenticeship, in partnership with Rhode Island College.
  • Symmetrix Composite Tooling, Composite Tool and Pattern Maker Apprenticeship, in partnership with the Rhode Island Marine Trades Association (RIMTA).

“Governor Raimondo continues to recognize that employers are best suited to drive  the workforce development solutions they need, which is reflected by the strategic investments made by this administration’ in programs such as the GWB, said Andrew Cortés, Executive Director of Building Futures. “We greatly appreciate the Governor’s strong support and continued partnership with the Department of Labor and Training as we expand the use of Registered Apprenticeship to help residents and businesses of Rhode Island thrive.”


Apprenticeship Rhode Island is an initiative of Building Futures, funded in part by an American Apprenticeship Initiative grant of the U.S. Department of Labor. In partnership with the RI Department of Labor and Training, Apprenticeship Rhode Island is working with employers, industry associations, and educational partners to design, register and launch new Apprenticeship programs to address employers’ workforce development needs.

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Governor’s Workforce Board produces new report: Unlocking Apprenticeship”

In response to Senate Resolution S0826-sponsored by Senate President Dominick J.  Ruggerio, the Governor’s Workforce Board recently released a new report outlining Apprenticeship as an incredibly effective workforce development tool.

A cover letter introducing the report goes on to say that The Rhode Island Legislature rightfully recognizes the effectiveness of apprenticeship; a recognition shared by both the current and previous Presidential administrations. In response, the Department of Labor & Training (DLT), the Governor’s Workforce Board (GWB), and the State Apprenticeship Council (SAC) have partnered to develop this report and provide an action ­oriented plan to expand Registered Apprenticeship in Rhode Island.

Stating that “Apprenticeship  holds great promise as a way to meet employer skill demands while building pathways into the middle class for potentially thousands of Rhode Islanders–The Rhode Island Department of labor and Training (DLT), the Governor’s Workforce Board (GWB), and many others, seek to promote and expand the use of apprenticeship as a training model.

To read the complete report, click here

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Growing Green in the new Green Economy

Innovative Partnership between RI Nursery & Landscape Association and  Seascape illuminates growth potential!

In a little less than a year’s time, a pilot program premiering the States’ first-ever Landscape Design Technician Apprenticeship has been launched.

This remarkable effort was born of a creative collaboration between a private employer-Seascape Lawn Care Inc., a professional industry association-Rhode Island Nursery & Landscape Association (RINLA), a non-profit service organization focused on growing new apprenticeship programs to address workforce development-Apprenticeship Rhode Island, with critical funding in the form of a Real Jobs grant through the RI Department of Labor & Training.

To learn more about Seascape’s initial program, click here for a feature story in the Providence Business News.

This pilot program is a small part of a larger effort supported in RINLA’s Real Jobs grant to strengthen workforce development across green jobs. Employer partners in this wider effort include: Fleurs, Inc., Wild and Scenic, The Farmer’s Daughter, Shoreline Landscaping and Earth Care Farm.

The larger project’s focus will be piloting apprenticeship programs with RINLA members, creating alignment with CTE training programs,  developing a recruitment strategy with career and technical schools, exploring a RINLA human resources service program for the industry, and developing a plan to create a new talent pool for Rhode Island’s agriculture and landscaping industry.

The long-term goal of the partnership, which also includes Apprenticeship Rhode Island and career & technical schools of Ponaganset, Chariho, Narragansett and Foster-Glocester, is to put in place a career pathway that includes a pre-apprenticeship program apprenticeships, and two year degree, which will lead to career opportunities with living wages.

“This project is critically important for Rhode Island’s green industries, and it helps to demonstrate how important this industry is to the Rhode Island economy,” said Shannon Brawley, executive director of RINLA. According to a 2012 economic impact study, the industry employs more than 13,000 people in Rhode Island and produces about $1.78 billion in annual revenues. “RINLA members also play a significant role in greening our state’s infrastructure and protecting its farmland and open space, and that’s going to provide economic and social and environmental benefits like clean air and a better quality of life,” Brawley added.

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Healthcare leaders tout “Competitive Advantage” of Apprenticeship

Participants from Executive Leadership, Management & Labor share best practices

Providence, RI.

In recognition of the State of Rhode Island’s 2nd annual participation in National Apprenticeship Week, Apprenticeship Rhode Island, a program initiative of Building Futures, hosted a gathering of over 90 participants to learn about the progress Rhode Island’s Healthcare sector has made in building critical infrastructure  to meet the workforce needs of the industry in the coming decade.

National Apprenticeship Week (NAW) is a celebration, initiated by the US department of labor that offers leaders in business, labor, education, and other critical partners a chance to express their support for Apprenticeship. NAW also gives apprenticeship sponsors the opportunity to showcase their programs, facilities and apprentices in their community. The weekly events highlight the benefits of Apprenticeship in preparing a highly-skilled workforce to meet the talent needs of employers across diverse industries.

A number of federal, state and local officials as well as leaders from private industry participated in Apprenticeship Rhode Island’s special healthcare forum which took place on November 9th, and was the headline event among fifteen different events in Rhode Island’s celebration of NAW. Panelists of the forum included Jody Jencks, Director of Workforce Development for Care New England; Jennifer Hyde, Senior Administrator for University Medicine; Rick LaFerriere, Lead Manager-Workforce Initiatives at CVS Health; Nicole Hebert, Director of Operations at the RI Parent Information Network (RIPIN) and Patrick Quinn, Executive V.P. of SEIU 1199 NE.

Jill Houser, Regional Director of Apprenticeship for Region 1 of the US Department of Labor was on hand to welcome assembled guests and noted that she was impressed by the Forum’s gathering. When thanking Building Futures’ Executive Director-Andrew Cortes-for his organization’s work in building non-trade Apprenticeships, Houser offered that; “Andrew and I have something in common. In addition to our passion for apprenticeship, we were both carpenters. And carpenters like to build things. And if there’s one thing you learn as a first year apprentice, it’s that there’s more than one way to build a structure that will last for hundreds of years, and I really feel like we’re in that place.”

The forum’s moderator, former Senate President and now President of the Rhode Island Hospital Association echoed Ms. Houser’s remarks by recognizing that “It is so cool to come from the general assembly and see words on a paper, ideas, discussions, and in just in two years’ time, become a reality.” During her time in the RI Senate, Paiva Weed was a champion of improving workforce development resources for RI and a supporter of the expansion of the Apprentice model to non-trade occupations.

Many of the employers furthered awareness of how they are working to integrate the apprenticeship model into their work places. “Although the apprenticeship language was new to healthcare, it really wasn’t. It already existed in residencies and fellowship programs, and now how can we make it applicable to other career pathways?” Said Jody Jencks, Director of Workforce Development for Care New England. Jencks continued; “The care model has changed over the last 2o years, so the apprenticeship framework has provided us a model, really a roadmap, to look at how to align the care model to the competencies and skills of our workers.”

For example, Jencks continued, “Our nurse leaders spearhead the program [at Women and Infants], bringing in novice to advanced beginner nurses that either had no experience or only a few years in the field: being able to apprentice this program, to give them the opportunity to build up these competencies and skills, really allows for a seamless transition into our workforce.”

Patrick Quinn, Executive V.P. for SEIU 1199-NE, worked hand in hand with Care New England and Apprenticeship Rhode Island on apprenticing medical coders. Quinn noted that “There’s always a lot of training going on in the healthcare world because practices and technologies change so quickly, so I think what Apprenticeship has to offer is quantifiable, affordable, and is both skills and knowledge based, and that’s where healthcare is moving towards.’

Panelist Rick LaFerriere, Lead Manager Workforce Initiatives at CVS Health added, “At the end of the day, you look at this and say, ‘Well, this is a pretty great workforce program. Why wouldn’t we do this?’ So let’s get to work on this.”

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Governor proclaims RI Apprenticeship Week

Signing ceremony during the second National Apprenticeship Week recognizes the expansion of the Apprenticeship model in Rhode Island and celebrates advancements of the year.

National Apprenticeship Week (NAW) provides leaders in business, labor, education, community organizations and government an opportunity to celebrate advances within Registered Apprenticeship. For the second year, a presidential proclamation established NAW, providing apprenticeship sponsors the opportunity to showcase their programs, facilities and apprentices. Events during the week highlight the benefits of Apprenticeship in preparing a highly-skilled workforce to meet the talent needs of employers across diverse industries.

Governor Gina Raimondo proclaimed November 13-19, 2017 as Apprenticeship Week in Rhode Island in conjunction with NAW, and provided special recognition to Building Futures’ Apprenticeship Rhode Island effort for its role in developing innovative non-construction Registered Apprenticeships. Working in tandem with the Real Jobs RI team, the Governor’s Workforce Board and many others, Apprenticeship Rhode Island has combined post-secondary education with employment, leading to family sustaining careers and nationally portable credentials in multiple industries, such as Healthcare and IT.

“Governor Raimondo continues to recognize that employers are best suited to drive  the workforce development solutions they need, which is reflected by the strategic investments made by this administration’, said Andrew Cortés, Executive Director of Building Futures. “We greatly appreciate the Governor’s strong support and continued partnership with the Department of Labor and Training as we expand the use of Registered Apprenticeship to help residents and businesses of Rhode Island thrive.”


Pictured with Governor Gina Raimondo above  are (Left to Right) Andrew L. Cortés, Executive Director of Building Futures/Apprenticeship RI; Gregory Mancini Esq., Chair of Building Futures’ Board of Directors; Amy Weinstein, Employer Liaison at Apprenticeship RI; David Balasco, Senior Director, Government Relations at Lifespan; Jody Jencks, Director of Workforce Development at Care New England; Ken Richardson, Building Futures’ Board; Lisa Abbott, Senior V.P. of Human Resources at Lifespan; Sandra Powell, Building Futures’ Board; Scott Jensen, Director R.I. Dept. Labor & Training; Scott Duhamel of Building Futures’ Board.

2017 RI Apprenticeship Week Proclamation

Apprenticeship Rhode Island is an initiative of Building Futures, funded in part by an American Apprenticeship Initiative grant of the U.S. Department of Labor. In partnership with the RI Department of Labor and Training, Apprenticeship Rhode Island is working with employers, industry associations, and educational partners to design, register and launch new Apprenticeship programs to address employers’ workforce development needs.


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Good Jobs without a BA

by Sarah Buchanan, Brown University Bonner Fellow at Apprenticeship RI

We tell kids they have to go to college to have a good career.  Aiming for college is good advice, but it ignores Apprenticeship and it ignores the reality that the number one reason students leave college without a degree is financial.

“There are still 30 million good jobs in the U.S. that pay well without a BA,” according to a new report from Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce.  “These well-paid jobs still require post-secondary education, including gaining specialized skills and significant training beyond high school,” according the Building Futures’ Executive Director, Andrew Cortes, “but not necessarily Bachelor’s degree.”  Many of these well-paid jobs are in construction, technology, and healthcare and are facing critical shortages of skilled workers.

That’s where Apprenticeship RI comes in. Apprenticeship RI, an initiative of Building Futures, is doing two important things.  First it is assisting employers in adopting the Registered Apprenticeship model and second it is partnering with the State of Rhode Island to strengthen the entire Apprenticeship System.  By partnering with Apprenticeship RI, employers from hospitals and manufacturers to the police are launching new training pathways and formalizing programs as Registered Apprenticeships.

One thing both major political parties agree on is that Apprenticeship will only grow over the coming decades. This past June, President Trump issued an Executive Order calling for expansion of apprenticeships, following in the steps of his predecessor President Obama, whose administration invested “$90 Million through Apprenticeship USA to Expand Proven Pathways into the Middle Class.”

Every year, students take on millions of dollars in debt for bachelor’s degrees with no guarantee of a job. Many do not consider, or even realize, the possibility of other routes such as Apprenticeship, which combine good jobs with post-secondary education and a portable credential.  Apprenticeship reduces risk, because apprenticeship is employment from day one.  Apprentices are selected by employers and hired at the onset before investing 1 to 5 years training and developing mastery in a specialized career. To learn more about developing a Registered Apprenticeship at your company, visit Apprenticeship RI.

For more information, visit the Center on Education and the Workforce’s new report: Good Jobs That Pay Without a BA.

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