National Center of Excellence Launched to Expand, Align Apprenticeship With Nation’s Workforce and Education Systems

5 States Selected to Accelerate Expansion and Alignment of Registered Apprenticeship

As a momentous start to National Apprenticeship Week, Safal Partners and a national consortium of stakeholder organizations announced the launch of a National Technical Assistance (TA) Center of Excellence (CoE or Center) focused on Strategic Partnerships and System Alignment. The Center will focus on expanding strategic partnerships nationwide to better connect and tie the publicly funded workforce system and education partners across the U.S. with Registered Apprenticeship programs and opportunities.

Registered Apprenticeship (RA) is a proven model for building a skilled workforce. Every RA program consists of five core components: employers, structured on-the-job learning (OJL) with mentoring, related instruction to support OJL, progressive wage increases commensurate with skill gains, and a nationally recognized credential that often translates into college credit. However, despite its impressive return on investment and strong performance outcomes, including a 92% retention rate for graduates, RA remains the most underutilized approach to talent development in the United States today. According to USDOL data from 2019, less than one percent of job seekers enrolled in workforce development programs funded through the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), the primary legislation for funding the nation’s job training system, were enrolled into a RA program. As noted by Mukta Pandit, President of Safal Partners, “Better alignment of our nation’s workforce and educational systems is crucial to getting more Americans into apprenticeship.”

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Safal Partners is a national consulting firm working at the nexus of education and workforce, as well as a USDOL national intermediary focused on the expansion of RA in cyber and tech occupations.  Over the next four years Safal Partners and its consortium of national Center partners – the National Association of Workforce Development Professionals (NAWDP), FASTPORT, the Wireless Infrastructure Association (WIA), the National Disability Institute (NDI), and the Coalition for Adult Basic Education (COABE) – will collaborate closely with USDOL to develop and deliver technical assistance focused on accelerating awareness of RA and expanding its utilization.

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Simultaneously the Center today announced a national campaign to engage 3,000 partners in RA across industries, states, and the education and workforce systems over the next four years to scale the development of RA programs nationwide. employers, RA program sponsors, state and local workforce development boards, governors, American Job Center programs and operators, and other essential stakeholders driving state workforce and economic development policies.  The Center also announced today that it would launch RA partnership development and alignment work initially with stakeholders in five states:

  • California (with the California Workforce Association)
  • Iowa – (with Iowa Workforce Development)
  • Missouri – (with the Missouri Office of Workforce Development and State Workforce Development Board)
  • North Carolina – (with the North Carolina Association of Workforce Development Boards)
  • Texas – (with the Texas Workforce Commission)

“We want to learn locally, starting with these five states, and scale nationally so that more students, job seekers, incumbent workers, and historically underserved populations can move into well-paying apprenticeship-based career pathways,” said Pandit.

The Center’s announcement today coincides with its kick-off of a four-day series of listening sessions with workforce development professionals. Melissa Robbins, Executive Director of NAWDP, will be hosting the sessions to inform the Center’s ongoing work, with findings from the sessions published in early 2022. Ms. Robbins will be joined by Maria Brady, a Multi-State Navigator in the USDOL Office of Apprenticeship (OA) in Dallas, Texas, and OA’s national point person on WIOA.

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