Strengthening Apprenticeship Programs through Training and Professional Development

Training is an essential part of the apprenticeship process. We often use the mantra, “earn while you learn” to describe one of the benefits of becoming an apprentice. However, we understand that the learning process must not stop with the apprentices and industry partners who are apart of the Mississippi Apprenticeship Program (MAP). We have to continue to learn the best ways to serve and grow Mississippi’s workforce. With this in mind, we recently took time to ensure our community college partners, a representative from the Mississippi Department of Employment Security, the State Workforce Investment Board, and MAP team members had the opportunity to participate in the basics of apprenticeship programs so we can work together to deliver excellent programs that provide opportunities for Mississippians to gain meaningful employment and for our industry partners to cultivate a high-quality, skilled workforce.

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) led the two-day Apprenticeship Foundational Training. DOL trainers shared information about how to develop practical and meaningful workforce education solutions and support the continued success of both program sponsors and apprentices.
Apprenticeship leaders across the state said the training would help them strengthen their program offerings for current and new apprenticeship participants. “As a newcomer to apprenticeships, the Foundational Apprenticeship Training, with instructors Bill Kraus and Charlie McNeil [from DOL], was extremely informative and helpful. I have already referred to our training resources and will continue to do so going forward,” said Michael Yarbrough, workforce project manager and apprenticeship coordinator for Pearl River Community College.

In addition to supporting the work to create strong programs for apprentices, the training focused on providing participants with guidance on developing programs that support the talent needs of various business and industry partners. Gayle Brown, the workforce and special projects developer for Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, said the program provided her with resources to help her continue to develop apprenticeship as a workforce solution on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. “Because of the training, I am more confident in crafting an apprenticeship program model that uniquely meets an employer’s needs.”

The training gave community colleges a chance to share information about their partnerships and programs with members of the DOL team. Josh Bower, assistant CTE Dean for Hinds Community College, said he had an opportunity to present information on the college’s work with KLLM Transport Services, Empire Truck Sales, and Stribling Equipment. He also said he was able to get guidance on establishing two new apprenticeship programs expected to launch later this year.

DOL also shared ways participants could contribute directly to several of MAP’s program goals, such as expanding apprenticeship programs in both traditional and non-traditional industries and occupations and increasing diversity in apprenticeship programs.

We are thankful for our partnership with DOL. We look forward to using what we learned to provide more opportunities for Mississippians to earn money while learning new skills that lead to financially rewarding careers.

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