Apprentice programs are a business win

In Chamber Blog, Workforce by admin

Whether you call it the “Great Resignation” or simply a workforce shortage, the truth is there are simply not enough workers to go around, and that trend looks to be continuing well into 2022. Chamber member companies are innovating solutions to solve these workforce challenges by putting a modern spin on apprenticeship programs.

Despite what you may think, apprenticeship isn’t just for the skilled trades. Many companies are finding great success in using the apprenticeship model of on-the-job training to fill entry-level positions in their corporate and HQ environments. So much so that just a few weeks ago, Accenture made the public commitment to fill 20% of their entry-level positions through their apprentice programs.

In 2020, the Chamber and FC2 came together with Accenture and Aon to create the Greater Washington Apprentice Network (GWAN) with the mission to help companies across our region build and expand apprentice programs. GWAN’s Founding Employers are Aon, Accenture, Appteon, Amazon Web Services, Nestle, NT Concepts, and SHRM. The network also includes dozens of other companies that are currently developing their apprentice programs, as well as every kind of support service provider they might need to build a successful apprenticeship program.

GWAN’s two industry cohorts, Banking and Government Contractors, help similar companies to learn from each other and take advantage of the efficiencies of scale that come from working together.

Where to Start

Most companies start by securing a commitment from C-suite leadership to try the apprentice model of recruiting and training workers. From there, the HR team typically identifies roles that might be appropriate for apprentices. This step often involves a fair amount of corporate soul searching and organizations should pause to consider if a 4-year degree is really essential for all of their entry-level positions. Often it easiest to start small with just a couple of roles and a small number of apprentices in their first cohort and build from there.

The Greater Washington Apprentice Network is here to help by building connections and bringing together professional peers for the sharing of best practices. GWAN connects employers to educational institutions, wrap-around service providers, candidate sources, and even grant funding sources that will reimburse some of the costs of creating an apprentice program. We also have a Playbook to help employers get started on the right foot. 

How to Connect

The Greater Washington Apprentice Network hosts a monthly Employer Briefing on the first Tuesday of each month at 2:00pm. Each month, the network hears from a Featured Employer and a Featured Resource, followed by about 30 minutes to network and make connections in the breakout rooms. The March meeting features Yaron Schwartz, Associate Director for Global Partnerships at Tent.org, and Allyson Eastman, Economic and Workforce Development Manager at Amazon Web Services. They will be sharing how they are working together to provide career pathways to recent Afghan refugees through Amazon Web Services’ apprentice program. There is no cost to attend or to participate in the network.

If you are an employer interested in building or growing an apprentice program to help solve some of your workforce challenges, we can help get you started.

For more information, visit www.greaterwashingtonapprenticenetwork.org or contact Jennifer Williamson jwilliamson@novachamber.org