Throughout history, the workforce has benefited from apprentice programs, business relationships that have been proven to benefit employers and employees alike. Apprenticeships offer an opportunity to “earn and learn,” meaning that employees receive needed on-the-job training while still earning a living. Through apprentice programs, Employers can impart key skills and train workers in their own methods and techniques, the cost of which can be recovered through employee loyalty and retention, providing the kind of workplace the 21st-century workforce expects: diverse, inclusive, collaborative, and innovative.
Last summer, great minds at Aon, Accenture, and the Chamber came together and created The Greater Washington Apprentice Network, a no-fee program that meets monthly to help employers in the region explore and develop an apprentice-based model of recruitment and training.
Over the past year, this employer-centric network has grown considerably and now includes corporate partners Amazon Web Services, Appteon, Nestle, NT Concepts, and SHRM in addition to Aon and Accenture. We’ve added education partners, the Northern Virginia Community College, University of the District of Columbia, and George Mason University, as well as a variety of nonprofit organizations providing ‘wrap around’ services and access to apprentice pipeline candidates. The Northern Virginia Chamber Foundation and FC2 serve as the network’s organizing and sustainability partners.
The Greater Washington Apprentice Network is truly an employer-centric network where employers gain access to best practices and peer-to-peer connections. How can this work? For example, we can connect the Chief HR Officer (CHRO) of a government contracting company in the early stages of developing an apprentice program with the CHRO of a government contracting company with a successful apprentice program already in place. (And yes, it is possible to use apprentices in government contract work. We can connect you with peers who have already figured out the process.)
In addition to making peer-to-peer connections, Greater Washington Apprentice Network also provides connections with education partners, candidate sourcing partners, and other service providers as needed by the employer.
There are no fees to join or participate in the Greater Washington Apprentice Network and we have an intentionally employer-centric and highly flexible model. Participating employers are encouraged to build a program that is register-able (we might have made that word up).Individual employers ultimately decide if they want to register their program with the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry or the Department of Labor or not at all. And while we provide a step-by-step playbook of how to create an apprentice program, it’s intended to be more of a roadmap with suggestions and recommendations for things to consider along the way. Ours is not rigid rulebook!
Through apprentice programs, Employers can impart key skills and train workers in their own methods and techniques, the cost of which can be recovered through employee loyalty and retention, providing the kind of workplace the 21st-century workforce expects: diverse, inclusive, collaborative, and innovative. While some skills are well suited to be developed within an educational environment, others, including soft skills such as team building and leadership, can best be developed within the workplace.
The Greater Washington Apprentice Network brings together employers, academic institutions, public and private sectors. Employers gain access to best practices from organizational peers, sources of prospective apprentice candidates, support services, academic institutions, and training resources.
We host a monthly employer briefing on the first Tuesday of every month, a day I’ve started thinking of as “Talent Tuesday.” Participation is free and it’s online. Register for the next briefing scheduled for 2:00 pm on the first Tuesday of the month here.
At these meetings we typically feature two speakers who each share about their apprentice program or experiences followed by at least 30 minutes of networking and time to make connections with other attendees in breakout rooms.
If your company has been struggling to hire and retain workers, I hope that you will join us for the next meeting (or the one after that) to learn more about the apprentice model of training and hiring workers. I’m also happy to schedule time to talk with you directly about the network, how it works, and make introductions to help you determine if an apprentice program might help solve some of your workforce challenges. I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And if you love what the Northern Virginia Chamber Foundation is doing and want to support our ability to offer workforce programs like this, please consider making a donation to the Foundation.