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Governor Laura Kelly Establishes Office of Registered Apprenticeship

Sep 06, 2022

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~Executive Order Expands Administration’s Workforce Development Efforts~

TOPEKA – Today, on the heels of Labor Day, Governor Laura Kelly signed Executive Order #22-07 establishing the Office of Registered Apprenticeship within the Kansas Department of Commerce. The Office will dramatically scale up the Kelly Administration’s efforts to meet the talent needs of Kansas businesses, give workers the skills and experience they need to compete in the modern economy, and knock down barriers to employment.

“We have spurred remarkable economic growth here in Kansas, but to continue that success, we have to ensure Kansas workers have the skills and opportunities they need to compete in today’s global economy,” Governor Kelly said. “I created this new Office of Registered Apprenticeship to prioritize fostering a workforce that meets the needs of Kansas businesses and of essential industries like education and healthcare.”

Registered Apprenticeship programs are a key workforce development tool for the Kelly Administration and the Kansas Department of Commerce.

In May, Lieutenant Governor and Secretary of Commerce David Toland announced appointments to the Kansas Apprenticeship Council (KAC), a significant step in modernizing the Registered Apprenticeship program in Kansas. The 12-member KAC helps establish Registered Apprenticeship programs in traditional and non-traditional occupations and provides approval for submitted program requests.

All Registered Apprenticeship programs must have five core components to be recognized for certification, including on-the-job training, related technical instruction, mentorship, wage progression, and industry-recognized credentials. However, the driving force must be a business or industry willing to support an apprentice to “earn and learn” a career.

“The Office of Registered Apprenticeship is a key part of our strategy to develop the workforce that Kansas companies need,” Lieutenant Governor and Secretary of Commerce David Toland said. “Engaging and partnering with businesses to provide on-the-job training allows for a more highly skilled and qualified workforce, which in turn reduces turnover rates and recruitment costs while increasing productivity.”

The Office of Registered Apprenticeship will be housed in the Kansas Department of Commerce and led by Shonda Atwater, current Director of Internships and Apprenticeships. Kansas currently has 212 recognized Apprenticeships programs with 3,396 Kansas residents participating.

“Robust partnerships are essential to growing Registered Apprenticeship opportunities across Kansas,” said Director of Internships and Apprenticeships Shonda Atwater. “The new Office of Apprenticeship will serve as the primary resource to connect industry partners and training providers, in order to prepare Kansans for the jobs of today and tomorrow.”

The Office of Registered Apprenticeship will:

  • Evaluate, and report annually on, the extent, quality and impact of registered apprenticeships in Kansas.
  • Develop strategies to modernize the registered apprenticeship program to include additional industries such as healthcare, IT, agricultural manufacturing, and distribution and logistics – all critical segments in the Kansas economy.
  • Develop and advocate for registered apprenticeship program policies that place a special focus on veterans, women, people of color, those formerly incarcerated and others with barriers to successful employment.

Governor Kelly made the announcement at a state-of-the-art auto body repair shop at Washburn University Institute of Technology alongside leaders in organized labor and higher education.

“Registered apprenticeships give workers the tools they need to learn a trade and help build a stronger, more resilient Kansas economy. In fact, an apprenticeship program is how I first entered the construction industry,” said Alise Martiny, Business Manager of the Greater Kansas City Building and Construction Trades Council. “Thank you Governor Kelly for creating this new office to expand apprenticeships and economic opportunities for working Kansans.”

“We have to do college differently, work differently, and train differently to continue to produce and recruit highly technical and skilled employees to our Kansas communities,” said Washburn University Institute of Technology Dean Michael Strohschein, Ed.D. “That’s what we’re doing here at Washburn Tech, and what we believe this new Office of Registered Apprenticeship will help achieve throughout the state.”

More information on Kansas Registered Apprenticeships can be found on the Kansas Department of Commerce website. In addition, regular “Dinner Bell Calls” are held to help build and promote registered apprenticeship programs, share resources, connect with others, and hear and share success stories.

Photos from the announcement are available for media use here: