Apprenticeships are a common thing in South Dakota history, but now businesses can apply for incentive funding to expand the number of pre-apprenticeships and Registered Apprenticeships.
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Apprenticeship has signed on 17 new South Dakota businesses, making the total so far 124. The businesses get employees, and the apprentices, upon completion of a Registered Apprenticeship program, receive an industry-issued, nationally recognized credential, which certifies their occupational proficiency.
“Applying for the program is open to anyone, any age, who wants to start earning a paycheck while learning to become a completely qualified journeyman, or other trained worker, with zero college debt,” said John Bolger, state director of the Office of Apprenticeship. Though each work field is structured differently, a small amount of the funding dollars is used to offset each business initiating of the program.
“Apprenticeships can be more than an entry-level program,” said Rebecca Long, South Dakota Department of Labor program specialist. “We are working for future transitions between associates degrees and bachelors degrees.” Long said that the training businesses see a 92% retention rate for apprentices continuing to work for the employer. The minimum program is 2,000 hours (about a year), with the more rigorous programs being around 6,000 hours (approximately three years). Each program has national standards, though each specific business has its own ‘on-boarding’ specific training geared to continued employment with that specific business. The high retention rate is due to the business interest in the student. “It is a customized formal training outline. Safety is a huge component written into the program. The standards are vetted by the U.S. Dept. of Labor. Most states have a licensing process,” Long said.
With the financial assistance from the program, it is “An earn and learn model, with the potential to retain the employee for the business’s needs,” said Dawn Dovre, public affairs for the South Dakota Department of Labor and Regulation. Dovre said that the 17 new additional businesses across the state will host a total of approximately 50 individual apprentices.
On-the-job training, and jobs, are available in construction and commercial trades, and in healthcare and service industries. “It’s a business-driven opportunity to address of the workforce needs,” said Long. To learn more about the benefits of Registered Apprenticeships visit StartTodaySD.com. A business can be a sponsor and manage all aspects of their program, or partner with an established sponsor. For every dollar spent on apprenticeships, employers receive approximately $1.47 return on investment.
The newest businesses on board include fire & rescue, carpenters, machinists, farm manager, butcher, lodge manager, nurses, automotive, web press, and even a professional brewer.