Running an Apprenticeship

Challenges of Managing an Apprenticeship Program

Joshua Monge
Joshua Monge
June 18, 2024

Running an apprenticeship program isn't always easy. We're working to make it simpler, but some level of complication should always be expected.

Apprneticeships involve a lot of planning and coordination to ensure both the apprentices and their organizations benefit from the program. Today, let’s explore some common hurdles that program managers face and discuss how they can overcome them.

Balancing Work and Training

Ensuring apprentices can manage their responsibilities while receiving adequate training is a significant challenge. Your apprentice has to take 144 hours of related training each year. When does that occur? During the day? After work? Both they and your organization have to find the right balance here. It requires careful scheduling and commitment from employers and apprentices to maintain productivity and learning outcomes.

Training Mentors

Apprentices need knowledgeable and supportive mentors for guidance. However, identifying and recruiting the right mentors with the time and inclination to help can be difficult. Your existing supervisors may have never gone through an apprenticeship, themselves, so it'll be up to the organization to ensure they're trained in how to be great mentors.

Setting Expectations

Establishing and communicating clear expectations helps everyone, but it's not easy to get right, especially since you can't anticipate every situation that might arise. It's likely you'll need to continuously revise expectations between all parties.

Maintaining Engagement

Keeping apprentices and mentors motivated and engaged throughout their training is vital to prevent dropouts. Mentors need to know this is a distinct part of their job, not just something that gets in the way of their doing their job. Apprentices need to accept the balance that there's some things they'll have to repeat until they can accomplish them sufficiently. This requires ongoing support, encouragement, and adaptation on all sides.

Following Rules and Standards

Compliance with various educational and labor regulations can be cumbersome. You'll need to work with your assigned Apprenticeship Training Representative (ATR) to ensure you're in compliance as a registered program. Further complicating compliance, if you're a multi-state employer, each state may have different rules, making it challenging to standardize programs across different locations.

Assessing Impact

The apprenticeship program must be regularly assessed for effectiveness. "What does success look like?" is a question you'll want to define early on. What level of impact should an apprentice have in year 1? How are you going to assess that impact? Is it something you can measure, or do you need to survey your team to find out?

This assessment helps identify areas for improvement and ensures the program benefits both the apprentices and the organization.

Evolving with Industry

As industries evolve, apprenticeship programs must adapt to include new skills and technologies relevant to the job market. This might require revisiting your standards with your local ATR and updating the related training, on-the-job training (OJT), or both. Staying current requires ongoing updates to the training curriculum and methodologies, but you'll be working with an apprenticeship system that's not know to move as quick as industry.

Running an apprenticeship program is a big responsibility with many challenges, but with the right approach, it can be incredibly rewarding. If you're facing these challenges and need some guidance, don't hesitate to reach out for help. Together, we can make sure your apprenticeship program is successful and beneficial for everyone involved.

If you want to talk to someone about addressing these challenges, contact us