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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Only program of its kind in the nation

EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I.   University Medicine (UM), a nonprofit primary care, specialty outpatient and sub-specialty medical group practice with over 200 physicians and multiple patient care locations across the state, announces the launch of its Apprenticeship for medical assistants employed by UM who wish to become Licensed Practical Nurses.

The apprenticeship is the result of a collaborative effort initiated by UM between Community College of Rhode Island (CCRI) and facilitated by Apprenticeship Rhode Island.  It is funded in part by University Medicine and by a grant from the State of Rhode Island Governor’s Workforce Board.

University Medicine’s program marks the first time an apprenticeship is tied to an LPN curriculum in the nation,” states Dr. Louis B. Rice, president and CEO of University Medicine. “No other program like this for LPNs exists – the closest apprenticeship program model can be found in England.  It is also groundbreaking for CCRI to offer such a customized program onsite to meet the specific needs of our employees.  We are grateful for this highly collaborative effort that results in significant career growth opportunity for our staff.”

UM’s LPN Apprenticeship trains medical assistants on staff who are interested in pursuing careers as licensed practical nurses.  CCRI staff assesses the level of academic readiness for program candidates and identifies required courses needed to successfully enter the Practical Nursing Program at CCRI.

“We are seeing employers eager to have academic opportunities to offer to their employees,” comments CCRI VP of Academic Affairs Rosemary Castigan.

After the course curriculum was developed, Apprenticeship RI worked with UM to design and develop the apprenticeship phase of the program, acting as intermediary between the state for registering the apprenticeship and assisting with required documentation. “Once the UM employees enter the nine-month Apprenticeship, they can continue working a reduced schedule,” explains Dr. Rice.  “Although the curriculum timeframe was customized for our employees, the content and rigor of the program remains unchanged and is exactly what a non-UM employee would go through if they were enrolled in CCRI’s LPN program on a full-time basis.

“Apprenticeship in the healthcare sector makes sense,” comments Andrew Cortés, executive director of Building Futures-home to Apprenticeship RI.   “University Medicine is a great example, using apprenticeship to upskill medical assistants to become licensed practical nurses through an innovative partnership with us and the Community College of RI.  Standardizing the skill levels of these critically important caregivers ensures that everyone wins” Cortés concluded.

See coverage on Turn to 10.

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VNA of Care New England Holds Inaugural Graduation

Warwick, RI.   The VNA of Care New England is pleased to announce the graduation of its inaugural class of residents who have completed the VNA of Care New England’s Residency Program for New Graduate Home Health Nurses. The graduation ceremony took place Thursday, September 14, at VNA of Care New England’s home office.

“This residency program has brought an energy and excitement to our agency,” said Kathleen Peirce, RN, MS, vice president of operations, executive director, and chief nursing officer of the VNA of Care New England, in speaking to the new graduates. “I hope that you continue to seek out the resources and opportunities that are here and ready for you. It is our hope that the continuum of care provided through Care New England will allow you to grow as a health care professional within our system. Congratulations to all!”

The graduating class includes Christie Bilodeau, Dawn Landry, Lindsey Lilly, Amelia Mason, Karina Salazar-Marte, and Kendra Santilli. During the ceremony Bilodeau, Landry, and Salazar presented their evidence-based practice research, “Assessing Impaired Cognition in Home Care Patients with Heart Failure,” and Lilly, Mason, and Santilli presented their research, “Assessing Health Literacy in Home Care Heart Failure Patients.”

“It is quite an experience to be a brand new nurse in a patient’s home with multiple complex illnesses, sometimes in less than ideal living conditions. Yet these six nurses did so with finesse. They far exceeded our expectations and we are quite proud of them,” said Lisa DiMaria, PhD, nurse residency program manager and program preceptor. “We know that the best nurses are the ones that keep learning, know where to get their information, and can apply the evidence to their own practice. In doing so, they change nursing, add value to our profession, and exemplify the nurses of the future. Congrats to all the graduates of our first residency program at the VNA.”


Apprenticeship RI is an initiative of Building Futures/RI funded through an American Apprenticeship Initiative grant from the U.S. Dept. of Labor. Assistance is available to all RI employers (outside of the building trades) at NO COST, in designing, implementing and registering new apprenticeship programs. In partnership with the RI Department of Labor and Training, Apprenticeship Rhode Island is working with employers, industry associations, and educational partners to address employers’ workforce development needs.

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Women & Infants Hospital Launches Medical Coding Apprenticeship Program

Collaboration and team work have resulted in the successful launch of Care New England’s first Medical Coding Apprenticeship program at Women & Infants Hospital, and the first Medical Coding Apprenticeship in the state of RI. Care New England’s management team and the labor union, SEIU 1199NE, have worked together to develop every aspect of the apprenticeship program including: measurable competencies, related training and predictable wage increases. They have formed an apprenticeship committee to review program changes, evaluate candidates and have even funded a contracted position that will help expand this exciting work system-wide.

With six new apprentices on board, the results have been immediate. Donna Sprague, Preceptor for the Medical Coding Apprentices says that she attributes the apprenticeship program’s structured on-the-job-learning and mentorship as the reason for the initial cohorts successful adoption of the program. “The Apprentices all know what to expect in order to succeed. They take classes as a cohort, help each other earn passing grades resulting in certification.” The results are more than anecdotal, Renee Vuz, Manager, HIM reports that the department saw a lower bill hold last quarter. “These results allow more movement and cross-functional work between Coders.”

“The goals for this program are large, but very achievable” says Jen Couri, Director of HIM, Coding and Revenue Integrity. “We have already seen an increase in our Coders cross-functional capacity. When Medical Coders can code both outpatient and inpatient records, the hospital experiences increased productivity and billable hours. With a grow your own talent model, we expect to save our department substantial overhead costs.”

In September 2015, Care New England, in partnership with Apprenticeship/RI was the recipient a Department of Labor’s American Apprenticeship Initiative grant to expand apprenticeship as a model to industries outside of the trades, including the healthcare sector. To date, Care New England has registered four apprenticeship programs including: Coding, Nursing and Licensed Alcohol & Drug Counselor. With multiple occupations in the pipeline, apprenticeship is a model that provides on the job learning, along with classroom instruction, to upskill current employees and provide career pathways system-wide.

Apprenticeship RI and the Healthcare Career Advancement Program (H-CAP) have worked closely with all partners to provide support from: program design and registration to curriculum implementation, competency evaluation to mentor/supervising coaching.


The Healthcare Career Advancement Program (H-CAP) is a national labor/management organization that promotes innovation and quality in healthcare career education. Its board includes Service Employees International Union (SEIU) locals and healthcare employers across all sectors of healthcare.  H-CAP has experts, tools, and resources to support healthcare employers interested in starting a Registered Apprenticeship program. To learn more about H-CAP, visit:

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Providence Police Academy becomes an Apprenticeship Program

The Providence Police Department has the first apprenticeship program of its kind in Rhode Island.  Because the Providence Police Academy has all the essential elements of apprenticeship – employment from day one, on-the-job learning, related instruction, and wage progression, the Providence Police were able to register as an Apprenticeship program and tap into the workforce development supports open to Registered Apprenticeships.

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Mancini Speaks of Building Futures & Apprenticeship RI

This week in the Providence Journal, Building Futures Board Chair Gregory Mancini published an Op Ed celebrating Building Futures’ 10-year success as a pre-apprenticeship program in the building trades, Mancini outlines Building Futures history and how they secured the resources to establish Apprenticeship Rhode Island – a partnership with Rhode Island’s Department of Labor and Training to build the capacity of the apprenticeship system and help employers launch apprenticeships outside of the construction trades. 

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Do you really need a Bachelor’s degree to do that?

The rise in jobs that require higher education is real.  But do all those jobs you post with “Bachelor’s degree required” really use that college education and hold the interest of a college graduate?   For starters, Carnevale et al. at the Georgetown Center for Education and the Workforce found 44% of “college job openings” in Rhode Island are below the Bachelor’s level.  Second, the apprenticeship model helps employers separate and unpack what employees need to get started from what education level they need to grow their career with the firm. 

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The New Face of Apprenticeship

With so few qualified biomedical equipment technicians and healthcare IT specialists on the job market, Claflin Medical Equipment and Claflin Company are taking charge by launching custom-designed apprenticeship programs.  Claflin Medical Equipment, a support and services provider of medical equipment, and Claflin Company, a medical supplies distributor, hired 5 apprentices in programs that will prepare them to be Biomedical Equipment Technicians and Data Scientists.  Both Apprenticeships are three-years in length and combine full-time employment with coursework at CCRI leading to a college degree as well as national certifications.

Claflin’s Data Scientists are cross trained in managing the intersection of IT and healthcare business operations.  They install hardware and network equipment as well as supporting software applications.   Biomedical equipment technicians maintain and repair a wide range of medical equipment in hospital and clinical settings.  “Apprenticeship is a game changer for tech-talent acquisition, with it we can close the skills gap”, said Eric Robinson, Director of Operations for Claflin Medical Equipment. “It allows us to broaden our recruitment strategy beyond those applicants that happen to arrive at our door fully qualified, credentialed, and experienced in the field; instead, we can grow our own talent base, groomed exactly as we need them to be through the right combination of education and on-the-job experience.”

“Real Jobs grants are designed to flexibly meet the needs of Rhode Island employers.” said Director Scott Jensen of the RI Department of Labor and Training. “Since Registered Apprenticeship is the ultimate employer-driven workforce training strategy, it made perfect sense to support this effort with Real Jobs funding.”

Year Up provides the perfect recruitment pipeline, providing the career readiness and coursework necessary to be hired into Claflin’s apprenticeship programs.  “We are incredibly pleased with the performance of Year Up graduates as our first Data Scientist Apprentices” says Michael Oliver, Chief Information Officer.

And what about the apprentices themselves?   Kevin Sun, of Warwick says: “Through my apprenticeship at Claflin, I can see a future for myself.”  Fernando Ruiz, of Providence echoes those feelings: “My apprenticeship at Claflin feels like a career, not just a job.”

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