The following is a guest editorial by Lake Land College president Dr. Josh Bullock.
As the nation celebrates Career and Technical Month this February, I would like to share how Lake Land College is on the leading edge of developing apprenticeships that can often be a golden solution for creating a talented pipeline of skilled employees and enabling area businesses to thrive.
Traditionally, apprenticeships are associated with careers in trade unions. However, the reality is that apprenticeships are expanding to include multiple career paths. In response to the workforce shortages and growing skills gap, state and national leaders are investing in organizations that develop apprenticeships.
DCEO made $10 million investment for pre-apprenticeship programs
Just last month, the governor and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) announced a nearly $10 million investment in pre-apprenticeship programs. These programs are funded through the Illinois Works program.
Last year Lake Land College, Rend Lake, and Illinois Eastern Community College submitted a collaborative proposal to grow partnerships. Their success in establishing 41 registered apprenticeship programs was among the many reasons DCEO funded the grant proposal.
The role of an apprenticeship partnership and Lake Land’s role
In an apprenticeship partnership, employers drive the development of a customized curriculum, in partnership with the local community college, to support the skills needs of the organization. Employers then select new employees to enter an apprenticeship training program or invest in current employees to upskill their knowledge.
With this commitment, businesses are reducing turnover, creating a talent pipeline, increasing productivity, and diversifying their workforce. In addition, by establishing an apprenticeship training program, they are setting standards for knowledge and skills and ensuring continuity of learning among generations.
Apprentices earn wages while training or in class
Employees and students who participate in an apprenticeship earn a wage while training or attending classes. They will also see their wages increase as their skills progress. Students receive on-the-job training and experience career advancement. They may also benefit from tuition reimbursement.
Students who complete an apprenticeship earn college credit and the valuable distinction of journeyman. A journeyman carries a national recognition and credential, a testimony to their skill level.
Lake Land has various financial sources to utilize
Through grants and alternate financial sources, Lake Land College can assist businesses in funding apprenticeships for college students. The same applies to pre-apprenticeships for high school students. In developing these programs, we work with companies to establish a beneficial schedule. It will specifically outline every detail of the training objectives.
Lake Land College engages in two apprenticeships currently. They are in Industrial Maintenance and Repair. We are in the process of developing additional programs in Automotive Technician and Commercial Driver’s Licenses.
Lake Lake appreciative of recent input
We appreciate those of you who assisted the college in gathering significant data for our next strategic planning cycle. In analyzing the results of the survey and focus group feedback, it is clear that there is strong support among both business leaders and the college community for creating apprenticeships, internships, and on-the-job training.
I look forward to discussing how Lake Land College can help you in creating a skilled workforce through an apprenticeship, internship, or innovative work-based learning partnership that will help your business meet the workforce demands of the future.