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Apprenticeship – Traditional Program on Today’s Cutting Edge


Apprenticeship – Traditional Program on Today’s Cutting Edge

Develop the People You Need, the Way You Need Them

Technological advancements in diesel engines and drive train components, not to mention advancements in cab design inclusion of more advanced electronic systems have many in the industry asking: “Where will the industry find technicians with the skills necessary to meet the challenges of the industry’s changing technologies”?

Another and equally important question is: “What can my company do to assure we have a continuous flow of technicians capable of meeting our maintenance requirements”?

The answer to both questions can be “Apprenticeship Programs”. 

Tech Schools do a tremendous job of preparing young people to fill “entry level” positions throughout the transportation industry and it is incumbent upon industry organizations: such as regional “Transportation Maintenance Councils”, industry suppliers, manufacturers and major fleets; to support these technical training institutions. 

While obtaining a diploma from a technical school is, by itself, a laudable accomplishment, it only acknowledges the recipient attended the training and performed sufficiently to complete the assigned courses, preparing the graduate for an “entry level” position.  Unfortunately that certificate does not guarantee him or her the knowledge and skills necessary to immediately deal with all aspects of the job.  Those skills can only be learned through experience on-the-job dealing with those unexpected and unique problems technicians face on a daily basis. 

There are opportunities aplenty for “experienced” technicians, those with multiple years of service who have the work experience and learned skills to immediately impact the quality of the employer’s maintenance program.  The “want ads” are full of such opportunities.  However, those same “want ads” belie another problem within the industry, one that is not often discussed; and that is “employee retention”, for in order to acquire that “skilled” technician he or she will more than likely will be lured from employment with another company. 

Studies show technicians stay with an employer an average of 5 to 6 years.    Those same studies also show a majority of those technicians, those who found employment away from their home area, will eventually migrate back to within 50 miles of where they began. 

Of course there are numerous causes for the transient nature of the technician.  Some relate to financial issues or working conditions, both which are an important aspect in employee retention.  But some also are the result of the absence of allegence.  Allegence, not only to the company, but to their co-workers; the feeling of belonging to a family.   The competency of those responding to “want ads” varies from highly qualified to barely qualified and finding the right individual to fill the requirements of the job is, at best, akin to hittng the bullseye on a dartboard from 30 feet.  And then there’s no quarentee they will stay.

So what is the solution.  One idea being discussed is for those in the Commercial Transportation Industry to initiate apprenticeship programs at all levels. 


Why initiate an apprenticeship program? 

Apprenticeship programs provide a good return on investment, by ensuring steady access to skilled workers familiar with the company’s procedures and standards.  Studies also show employees trained through an apprenticeship program become more productive, which means such employees spend their time contributing to the bottom line, not getting up-to-speed. 

Apprenticeship programs have also been shown to foster employee loyalty by demonstrating that their employer values them enough to invest their resources: i.e. time and money; to help them reach their career goals. Technicians trained in your business create skilled and experienced employees, many of whom will stay with the company for the long term.


How do you begin an Apprenticeship Program? 

First and foremost decide whether your operating budget allows for the establishment of an apprenticeship program.  An apprenticeship program is a “time-intensive” undertaking that combines on-the-job training with some classroom instruction and you should make sure your company is able to financially support, not only the designated apprentice, who by law is required to receive a least minimum wage, but the salary of the designated trainer as well.

Be sure to create a detailed outline of the terms and conditions of the apprenticeship program and make sure to include a list of the skills the apprentice is to learn along with an indication of how much time will be devoted to learning each skill.  Finally, be sure to identify who will be providing the training and list the qualifications of that individual.

Making “apprenticeship” part of your business plan is easier than you think. 

1. Assess your business requirements

Start by clearly defining the role an apprentice will play within your business and the skills you are looking for in a new employee.  Contact your local Technical School, or High School offering Apprenticeship Curriculum, and let them know you are offering apprenticeships.  Make sure the school’s program has a certified journeyperson/designated trainer capable and committed to training prospective students to meet your standards and business requirements. 

2. Research government grants & assistance available to employers

Adding an apprenticeship program is a smart business investment!  Just make sure to review the various forms of funding available for employers who choose to hire and train apprentices.  Contact your State Department of Commerce Apprenticeship and Training Bureau for information and assistance.  They can help you in setting up a successful apprenticeship program. 

3. Find candidates for your program. 

When you are ready to begin training an apprentice begin by promoting the opportunity within your organization.  There may be someone already in your employ who would make an excellent candidate.  If you go outside your business, begin by contacting local Technical Schools or High Schools who offer Apprenticeship Curriculum.  Qualified candidates can also be found with the assistance of organizations like trade and industry associations and through newspaper and trade magazine ads.

5. Allow and prepare for in-class portion of training

In addition to completing a minimum number of prescribed on-the-job hours of practical experience for each level of training, your apprentice may also be required to attend classroom training in order to achieve State certification.  Your State Department of Commerce, Apprenticeship and Training Bureau can provide assistance and will work with your apprentice to develop a schedule that will work for both of you.

6. Monitor your apprentice’s progress

Be sure to document and verify the hours worked by the apprentices in your program.  Each time an apprentice is called to attend technical training the hours and date must be noted.  Only the hours that are documented will count towards the hours required to complete the practical training component of your apprentice's training.


For more information regarding Apprenticeship Programs contact your State Department of Labor Apprenticeship & Training Bureau or the U.S. Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration.


Quick Read!  

Good content management software can not only make your life easier, but it can save you time, money, and above all save you from the headache of manually updating your site or outsourcing changes. Here are seven ways it can benefit your business, no matter level of technical knowledge you possess.


1.) No need for a B.S. in C.S. to update your site. Programming and markup languages can seem very foreign unless you have studied computer science or a related field. This can create a barrier between you and your site. With a CMS, the need to know these languages is eliminated. Content management software is tailored to the needs of non-technical people, using boxes, text ,or symbols that are easily recognized to help you update your site instantly.


2.) A professional looking site has consistency. Anyone who has surfed the Web knows that inconsistencies in Web sites can make it seem as though they were created by a 5-year-old. Design, layout, format, and color changes that were initially created to draw attention to a page can actually serve as a distraction to the site's initial purpose. Content management software makes standardization easy; designs, text sizes, fonts, formats, and layouts can be created consistently throughout the site. However, standardizing does not mean your site will be generic or boring. Creative design combined with a CMS and an effective online marketing campaign will ensure your site's success.


3.) Dynamic up-to-date sites are created. If the information is outdated on a Web page, the site will appear stagnant. A CMS eliminates the wait time when needing to update. A CMS allows you to instantly post up-to-the-minute news and information about your company. You may also have the opportunity for rotating articles and images in your pages, so your site is constantly changing even if you don't have time to update as often as you would like.


4.) Save your business a substantial amount of money. In the past, the only way to maintain a professional looking Web site was to hire someone to do it for you. However, when you outsource a job such as updating a Web site, you are not always the company's first priority and there is usually a large hourly rate or monthly retainer associated with the service. Content management software gives you the ability to do it yourself instantly, and at a fraction of the price. It also allows for several authors, giving you the ability to assign certain sections to the people that are best suited to input the information.


5.) Allows for Separation of Content, Structure, and Design. Normally, when wanting to redesign a Web site or change the structure, it is necessary to do a complete rebuild of the site, which can take a lot of time and money. With a CMS the design, content, and structure are separated. You can change the content without losing the design of the site, and you can change the design without losing the content.


6.) Work-at-home friendly. Everyone knows that you can't plan for the unexpected, but you can be prepared. Whether it be a doctor's visit or a sick child, neither can stop you from updating your site with a CMS. All you need to have is an Internet- accessible computer and a Web browser to make immediate updates to your Web site from anywhere.


7.) Increases consumer interaction. Content management software will give your business a greater ability to interact with your target audience. With a CMS you may choose to send out an online newsletter, which allows you to share any new progress in your business, special promotions, or general information about your company. You may also choose to create a contact form, interactive calendars of events, press releases systems, etc. A good CMS tool will enable you, the non-technical professional, to perform these and a myriad of other important (and often costly) Web site functions easily and affordably.

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