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State of Alaska > DOLWD > Alaska Job Center Network > Apprenticeship Opportunities in Alaska

Employer Technical Assistance

Creating an Apprenticeship Training Program

One of the most challenging aspects of owning a business is finding and retaining good employees. Constant turn-over is a financial drain on companies and over time can affect company morale. You won't be surprised to know that "high school youth between the ages of 18 and 27 who did not enroll in post-secondary education held approximately six different jobs and experienced four to five periods of unemployment."1 Entry-level jobs that aren't rooted in training and the future promise of a career become simply temporary stops in a search for a profession.

What many employers don't realize, however, is the possibility of creating an apprenticeship training program to ensure committed, skilled, long-term employees. The U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Apprenticeship and Training lists over 900 federally approved apprenticeable occupations, but only 43 such occupations are currently available in Alaska. Not only are the available apprenticeship opportunities underutilized, the present apprenticeships are also almost exclusively in the building trades industries. Real opportunities for new apprenticeship programs exist in the areas of health care, childcare, seafood processing, tourism, oil and gas exploration, timber, mining, and social service providers. There is a demonstrated need for skilled workers in these areas and employers should seriously consider developing apprenticeship programs for these occupations.

The apprenticeship system offers not just a job, but a career. It attracts better applicants and improves employer-employee relationships. During the period of training, employers can instill values such as company loyalty, good work practices, and positive work attitudes. In addition, it ensures training standards of the trade are met while improving training standards in the industry. Employers can evaluate potential employees in a work setting prior to hiring them. When the training is completed and apprentices become employees, they have little trouble fitting into the company because they already have a good grasp of the company's values and work requirements. With the promise of a future, apprentices become valuable, committed employees capable of advancing to more responsible positions within the company.

Sponsoring an Apprenticeship Training Program

Apprenticeship training is a method that combines actual work experience with classroom related instruction and produces a worker skilled in the occupation who is capable of exercising independent judgment and who subscribes to the highest standards of professional conduct. There is a written agreement between the apprentice and the employer that acknowledges their joint commitment to the training process. The U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Apprenticeship and Training approves this agreement. Registration of your apprenticeship training program guarantees that your workforce will be consistently trained at the highest skill levels, that your program will be nationally recognized, and that you are entitled to the benefits of registered apprenticeship under U.S. Department of Labor's laws and regulations.

Benefits of Sponsoring an Apprenticeship Program

There are both economic and intrinsic benefits. The economic benefits are derived from paying apprentice wages (usually 40%-50% of journey worker wages). Registered apprenticeship sponsors are also exempt from paying overtime to apprentices for the related instruction portion of their training. Also, you may be entitled to tax credits if you hire people who meet specific criteria or if your business is located in specific areas. Further, and perhaps most importantly, sponsors experience reduced turnover. We believe this is because the apprentice knows that the employer values trained employees - thus, employee morale is increased.

There are many benefits for employers and potential employees. Foremost, apprentices in registered training programs know they have jobs in the future. By working for an employer who values lifelong learning, apprentices become invested in improving their skills by achieving a Certificate of Completion - a nationally recognized credential that will qualify them to work in their field anywhere in the country. Apprentices learn in a practical way through a structured, systematic program of on-the-job supervised training. Because apprentices not only learn the techniques of a trade but also understand why they do what they do, they become good problem solvers, work better as team members, and demonstrate better interpersonal skills. Apprentices become skilled, motivated craft workers with a strong work ethic who are well versed in company policy, who average better attendance, who possess the latest technological skills and who fill critical needs for skilled workers. Apprentices become skilled craft workers, flexible and productive, who are dedicated to the industry and the specific employer.

Choosing an Apprentice

Your apprentices are your employees. As such, they must meet your minimum qualifications. You set the standard. If you should choose to do so, you can award credit for prior education and experience to potential candidates. All this enables you to be in control of the apprentice selection process.

You may choose to train as many apprentices as your business will allow as long as you continue to meet the ratio of skilled workers to apprentices that has been established by the Department. This ratio is designed to ensure that the safety of the apprentices and the quality of the training are maintained at the highest levels.

Types of Registered Apprenticeship Training Programs

Registered apprenticeship training programs may be conducted by a single employer, a group of employers, or jointly by a union and employer(s), called a Joint Apprenticeship Training Committee (JATC). There are many apprenticeable occupations, in both construction and non-construction fields. Today, apprenticeship is expanding to health-related, new technology, high performance manufacturing, and service occupations.

Getting Started

The first step in the process of registering an apprentice-training program is to contact:

U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Apprenticeship
605 West 4th Avenue, Room G30
Anchorage, AK 99501
Telephone: (907) 271-5035
Fax: (907) 271-5024

The BAT will review the occupation, your training needs, and your ability to meet quality standards and training requirements. Be assured that your labor representative has the information and technical experience to guide you through the process. You'll be pleased to know that the application is short and there are minimal paperwork requirements for this program.

Apprenticeship Program Registration

Apprenticeship programs are registered with the BAT. The office approves and registers apprenticeship and training agreements. It oversees the apprenticeship programs' affirmative action plans; and more than mere passive nondiscrimination, they look for actions that will equalize opportunity in apprenticeship so as to allow full utilization of the work potential of minorities and females.

Each apprenticeship program is governed by a set of standards approved by the BAT. These include:

  • full and fair opportunity to apply for apprenticeship;
  • a schedule of work processes in which an apprentice is to receive training and experience on the job;
  • the program includes organized instruction designed to provide apprentices with knowledge in technical subjects related to their trade (e.g., a minimum of 144 hours per year is normally considered necessary);
  • a progressively increasing schedule of wages;
  • proper supervision of on-the-job training with adequate facilities to train apprentices;
  • apprentice's progress, both in job performances and related instruction, is evaluated periodically and appropriate records are maintained;
  • no discrimination in any phase of selection, employment, or training.

There is no cost for program registration. The BAT offers technical assistance in program design, paperwork completion, and application submittal. They will provide ongoing operational assistance and will be a constant resource for the apprenticeship sponsor. Additionally, for each occupation title, there is a corresponding training outline. The outlines have been standardized and are provided to you in ready form.

The registered apprentice is required to attend classroom-related instruction each year of their apprenticeship. The BAT will assist you with educational resources. Generally, the employer bears the cost of the related instruction. This is offset by the fact that you are paying the apprentices less money than your skilled workers.

For registration of a program, the apprenticeship standards are required to identify and include the following:

  1. Skilled Craft or Occupation:
    • Term of Training: ____ Hrs.
  2. Wage objective consistent with the skill required. Journeyman wage rate per hour:
    • Private: $____
    • Davis Bacon: $____

  3. A progressively increasing schedule of wages during training period: the entry wage should not be less than the required minimum wage. We recommend training periods of 1,000 hours or 6-month periods.

    Recommended Employer/Actual
    1st 1000 Hours 50% ____/____
    2nd 1000 Hours 55% ____/____
    3rd 1000 Hours 60% ____/____
    4th 1000 Hours 65% ____/____
    5th 1000 Hours 75% ____/____
    6th 1000 Hours 80% ____/____
    7th 1000 Hours 85% ____/____
    8th 1000 Hours 90% ____/____

  4. The need to identify a ratio of apprentices to journeymen to be consistent with proper supervision, training, safety, and continuity of employment.
    • Ratio of apprentices to journeymen: 1:1 and 1: __ per job site.
  5. To satisfy equal employment requirements, it is necessary to identify your minimum qualifications for entry into apprenticeship. Check items that apply.
    • ____ grade education or certified equivalency.
    • Be at least 18 years of age (16 years of age for approved School-to-Apprenticeship)
    • Be physically fit for the trade, without regard to any occupationally irrelevant physical handicap.
    • Probationary Period
    • Other
  6. An outline of the work process in which the apprentice will receive supervised work experience and training on the job.
  7. Related Instruction Source Name:
    • Method of Training: ( )Classroom ( ) Shop ( ) Correspondence ( ) Other
    • Sponsor's Signature:
    • Date:

1Veum, J.R., & Weiss, A.B. (1993). Education and the work histories of young adults.

Monthly Labor Review,
116(4), 11-20.

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Page Updated October 28, 2008