Want to Increase the Number of Apprentices? Here’s Where to Start.

Elizabeth Brotherton-Bunch

Elizabeth Brotherton-Bunch Digital Media Director, Alliance for American Manufacturing

Tannasia, a newly single mother of four kids, was forced to uproot her family from their home in Texas to Biloxi, Mississippi after severe flooding hit the state.

And that’s when she found herself stuck. Tannasia needed a job, badly. But she couldn’t get a job because she couldn’t afford child care, and she couldn’t afford child care because she didn’t have a job.

But Tannasia caught a break. She came across a flier for the Moore Community House Women in Construction (WinC) program, an eight-week construction pre-apprenticeship program that prepares women for work in advanced manufacturing and construction. Not only does WinC help its participants move on to paid apprenticeship programs (and eventual jobs), it also provides child care assistance.

“This program saved my life, and my kids’ life,” Tannasia said. “I don’t know where we’d be without Women in Construction. I was stuck between a rock and a hard place, and it opened a door for me when I didn’t have any way out.”

There is a lot of talk these days about the need for more apprenticeship programs — and not just because of this whole situation.

Both the public and private sector are looking for ways to prepare America’s workers for the jobs of high-tech jobs of tomorrow, especially in advanced manufacturing. And while here at AAM we believe some of the talk about the “skills gap” has been a bit overstated, there’s no doubt that more must be done to better recruit and prepare people for middle-skill jobs that require education beyond high school (but not a four-year college degree).

The National Skills Coalition has a few ideas on how to do just that.

The organization is out with a new policy briefing that outlines ways to increase the number of apprentices and other forms of work-based learning. The United States “falls far behind competitor nations” in using such training for in-demand jobs, the coalition notes. The U.S. is even worse at recruiting women, parents, and underrepresented people for such programs.

One of the reasons is that these folks often need “pre-employment” training, like the program that Tannasia went through, to gain the skills they need to begin an apprenticeship program.

Often run by a community-based organization or a community or technical college, successful programs allow potential apprenticeships to gain occupational skills, usually over the course of eight to 12 weeks, along with hands-on worksite experience like working with tools, machinery and other project materials. In addition, these programs also help participants get into apprenticeship programs, along with financial and career planning, job search assistance, networking opportunities and more.  

These programs work. One 2003 study “found that pre-apprenticeship training helped more than 5,000 women enter apprenticeship over the prior ten-year period,” the coalition reports.

But even if program participants make it to an apprenticeship program, many still hit a wall because they lack childcare. 

“When parents are in the workforce, significant child care costs make entering unpaid training like pre-apprenticeship nearly impossible,” the coalition notes. “Child care expenses for families with young children average more than $700 a month nationally. For single-parent families, these costs account for more than a third of their monthly income.”

Access to affordable child care is simply a game-changer for many of these apprentices. One study found that when given a child care subsidy, the likelihood that a single mother participates in a job training program increases by 8 percentage points; in another survey, 48 percent of low-income participants in job training programs who received child care said they wouldn’t have been able to complete the program without it.

Just like Tannasia — and she's not alone. The WinC program began offering its participants and graduates child care in 2016 after receiving a series of grants. Since then, enrollment has nearly tripled, from about 60 women per year to 180 women per year.

Read the full briefing, which includes specific policy recommendations for Congress and state policymakers.

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This was reposted from AAM

Posted In: Allied Approaches, From Alliance for American Manufacturing

Union Matters

Get to Know AFL-CIO's Affiliates: National Association of Letter Carriers

From the AFL-CIO

Next up in our series that takes a deeper look at each of our affiliates is the National Association of Letter Carriers.

Name of Union: National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC)

Mission: To unite fraternally all city letter carriers employed by the U.S. Postal Service for their mutual benefit; to obtain and secure rights as employees of the USPS and to strive at all times to promote the safety and the welfare of every member; to strive for the constant improvement of the Postal Service; and for other purposes. NALC is a single-craft union and is the sole collective-bargaining agent for city letter carriers.

Current Leadership of Union: Fredric V. Rolando serves as president of NALC, after being sworn in as the union's 18th president in 2009. Rolando began his career as a letter carrier in 1978 in South Miami before moving to Sarasota in 1984. He was elected president of Branch 2148 in 1988 and served in that role until 1999. In the ensuing years, he worked in various roles for NALC before winning his election as a national officer in 2002, when he was elected director of city delivery. In 2006, he won election as executive vice president. Rolando was re-elected as NALC president in 2010, 2014 and 2018.

Brian Renfroe serves as executive vice president, Lew Drass as vice president, Nicole Rhine as secretary-treasurer, Paul Barner as assistant secretary-treasurer, Christopher Jackson as director of city delivery, Manuel L. Peralta Jr. as director of safety and health, Dan Toth as director of retired members, Stephanie Stewart as director of the Health Benefit Plan and James W. “Jim” Yates as director of life insurance.

Number of Members: 291,000 active and retired letter carriers.

Members Work As: City letter carriers.

Industries Represented: The United States Postal Service.

History: In 1794, the first letter carriers were appointed by Congress as the implementation of the new U.S. Constitution was being put into effect. By the time of the Civil War, free delivery of city mail was established and letter carriers successfully concluded a campaign for the eight-hour workday in 1888. The next year, letter carriers came together in Milwaukee and the National Association of Letter Carriers was formed.

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There is Dignity in All Work

There is Dignity in All Work