Apprenticeships are industry-driven, high-quality career pathways in which workers can obtain paid work experience, classroom instruction and a transferable credential while job creators develop and prepare their future workforce. Today in the United States, there are more than 7.2 million job openings that cannot be filled due to the growing skills gap that exists in the workforce. Apprenticeships offer paid, relevant workplace experiences while acquiring the skills and credentials that employers value.
The Kansas Registered Apprenticeship program balances a unique partnership between job seekers and employers throughout the state. The program incorporates classroom studies through on-the-job training supervised by a skilled employee. The customizable program improves the skills and competencies of apprentices through on-the-job training, in turn leading to their higher productivity rate.
Registered Apprenticeships in Kansas play an important role as a critical post-secondary education, training and employment option.
Since the inception of the program in 2016, it has served 674 apprentices in Kansas. And, after completing a Registered Apprenticeship program, these apprentices have raised their hourly wages by roughly $3, to an average of nearly $22 per hour. In the time the program has existed, Kansas has started 99 new Registered Apprenticeship programs in our state.
Challenge Meets Opportunity: America’s Job Link Alliance—Technical Support
Apprenticeships can take many forms, and innovation can be the key to providing more opportunities for learning and more good jobs for Kansans.
One story I would share as an example of an innovative approach would be the team at America’s Job Link Alliance–Technical Support (AJLA–TS), which has been powering the software used by KANSASWORKS for nearly 20 years. Hiring top talent in the technology field is hard work, and the target is constantly moving as new technology and new tools enter the marketplace. But, because of an innovative partnership, AJLA–TS has found a way to keep ahead of the curve and develop talented IT professionals straight out of Northwest Kansas.
Remote work represents a great opportunity for rural Kansas. But, in order to fully realize our state’s potential in this area, key partnerships and innovations must be developed to create sustainable opportunities for Kansans to work wherever they live across our state. By teaming up with Rural and Remote’s Kade Wilcox, who facilitates the Coding Academy, Northwest Kansas Economic Innovation Center is rising to the challenge and creating pathways for folks in Northwest Kansas to work anywhere in the world.
And, just like that, challenge meets opportunity. The Coding Academy has set up an apprenticeship program to get folks trained in using coding languages like Python and React to prepare them for a job as a developer upon conclusion of the training.
Collaboration has been the key since the start of this program. AJLA–TS helped add some company-specific training, like a course for how to use the Ruby on Rails web application framework, to supplement the Coding Academy’s usual curriculum and tips they provide to remote workers. In addition, AJLA-TS has set up each apprentice with a company mentor who is a skilled, experienced developer to help guide these prospective employees through their learning and into a developer role with the company.
“This program is a really good opportunity for an ongoing relationship,” said Christine Bohannon, Director of AJLA–TS. “We have openings for remote teleworkers, and we know there is a need for jobs in Northwest Kansas, so the ability to meld that with our needs is very exciting.”
All of this activity helps support workforce development in Kansas. With more innovation, collaboration and lasting partnerships, apprenticeships can help create pathways to success for more workers all across our state.
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