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Learnings: Good for companies, potential employees and communities

For years in Flint and Genesee County, apprenticeships have been most evidently associated with our region’s deep and rich history in the automotive industry. That’s because running local General Motors plants 24/7 on three shifts required a multitude of electricians, pipefitters, millwrights, sheet metal workers, toolmakers and machine repairers – collectively referred to as “skilled trades”.

The path to becoming a journeyman (i.e. experienced and trained) is through the completion of a registered apprenticeship program designated by the U.S. Department of Labor, which includes on-the-job training under the attentive direction of a journeyman, trade-specific courses and certificates. In total, most apprenticeships require 8,000 hours, or four years, of on-the-job training, which is comparable to a four-year university degree.

But unlike students studying a major, apprentices earn while they learn. Additionally, most have employment upon completion of their programs, usually with the companies that sponsored them.

It is a win-win solution for the apprentice and the employer. As college tuition — and debt — continues to rise, conversations about preparing for life after high school have shifted. Meanwhile, with talent shortages affecting large swaths of the job market, more and more employers are turning to the proven method of apprenticeship to meet their need for qualified, skilled technicians.

According to Wanda Bigelow, Apprenticeship Manager at GST (Genesee, Shiawassee, Thumb) Michigan Works!, there has been a marked increase in the number of employers interested in starting these programs. Increasingly, employers see it as a way to invest in their workforce, Bigelow added.

Moreover, it is not just traditional occupations in the construction or automotive industries that are expanding their talent recruitment efforts through apprenticeship programs. The practice has also found its way into “non-traditional” sectors like healthcare, transportation, advanced manufacturing and IT, as detailed in the July-August issue of AND, the business magazine published by the Flint & Genesee group.

Eight months ago, clinical engineering services at McLaren Health Care Corp. launched an apprenticeship program, developed by the Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation, to supplement the department’s standard practice of hiring only individuals with associate’s degrees for office openings. entry level. The reasons are described by Samantha Jacques, vice president in charge of clinical engineering services at McLaren, in the article entitled “Apprenticeship programs help fill the talent pool”.

According to Jacques, an apprenticeship program offers a practical solution to fill the shortage of qualified candidates, especially in medical fields. Traditional techniques used to recruit talent for certain positions are no longer enough, she added.

For employers, investing in their workforce through the use of innovative practices, such as an apprenticeship program, offers more than just a way to find talent. Learning also improves productivity while increasing employee retention and reducing turnover costs, which increases the bottom line, according to the Department of Labor. Potential employees will benefit from learning valuable industry-specific skills and growth opportunities.

More companies should consider supporting apprenticeship programs. Not only are apprenticeships good for our community, but by closing the skills gap, they help businesses grow and compete in a global economy.

Tim Herman is CEO of Flint & Genesee Group.

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