Advancing Apprenticeships for Small Business
WASHINGTON—Today, the Committee on Small Business Subcommittee on Contracting and Workforce heard from a panel of witnesses on apprenticeship initiatives—specifically, the Department of Labor Registered Apprenticeship Program, which combines on-the-job learning and related technical instruction.
“The Small Business Committee has heard many accounts of the skills gap and its detrimental impact on small businesses and the American economy,” said Subcommittee Chairman Steve Knight (R-CA). “To combat this issue, Americans need an arsenal of workforce development strategies that balance the immediate needs of employers, long-term career goals of employees, and the rapid evolution of technology.”
A Centuries Old Practice
Apprenticeships, a centuries old practice, is experiencing a resurgence in the United States in light of the recent skills gap issue facing the small business workforce. The growing price tag for higher education, coupled with lost revenue caused by the skills gap, has increased demand for apprenticeships from both the workforce and industry.
“It is our hope that apprenticeships will be implemented in other areas across the country, other sectors and that general awareness of apprenticeships will increase with students, parents, educators, and business owners,” said Tammy Simmons, Vice President of Human Resources and Marketing at Machine Specialties, Inc., in Whitsett, NC. “Good collaboration on these programs sets the businesses and students up for success. A winning outcome for business and a winning outcome for the school systems is a tremendous win for the community as a whole.”
“The focus on Apprenticeship is greater today than ever before. From the launch of the American Apprenticeship Initiative in 2016, to the Executive Order issued recently under President Donald J. Trump, Registered Apprenticeship has taken center stage as an effective way for companies to develop a pipeline of talent to meet the critical needs of their workforce,” stated Jeffery Forrest, Vice President of Economic and Workforce Development at the College of the Canyons, in Santa Clarita, CA.
“Apprenticeships are a proven and needed piece of a company’s workforce strategy to combat the skills gap. They help small businesses build a pipeline of skilled workers, grow internal talent, retain employees, reduce recruiting costs and improve productivity,” said Jeannine Kunz, Vice President of Tooling U-SME in Cleveland, Ohio. “Undoubtedly, support of small businesses needs to be at the forefront of our conversations about strong economic and workforce development.”
“There is a robust pool of individuals ready and willing to learn the skills needed by employers. Apprenticeship programs provide employers with an untapped source of skilled individuals, many of which may be passed over in a traditional hiring process,” stated Jeff Mazur, Executive Director of LaunchCode, in St. Louis, MO.