On March 26, the Greater Washington Partnership hosted the seventh installment in its webinar series, the Future of Talent Partnership Conversation Series.    

The Future of Talent Partnership Conversation Series brings together talent leaders from across the Partnership’s network to share innovations in talent attraction, retention, and development.  During the session, speakers shared their organizations’ work to prepare learners for in-demand roles through apprenticeships.

Ryan Craig, managing partner at Achieve Partners and cofounder of Apprenticeships for America, moderated the conversation, which included Jarrett Carter Sr., Vice President of External Affairs, Communications & Advancement at Howard Community College (HCC); Kyla McNally, Managing Director and Head of Firmwide Early Careers at JPMorgan Chase  (JPMC); and Jennie Niles, President and CEO of CityWorks DC.  

According to research from JPMC, 87% of companies experience or expect a skills mismatch, meaning there’s a perceived or actual gap between the skillsets of the incoming workforce and the skills needed for jobs at the company. Noting that over 38% of average entry level jobs require over three years of experience, Craig contextualized the need apprenticeships can meet, “We have a skills gap and we have an experience gap. Apprenticeship is a great answer for both of those…because it delivers both of those.”  

“Just the traditional pathway isn’t enough to make sure that all of our public school students get the great jobs that are in this region.”  – Jennie Niles

Read our key takeaways from this cross-sector conversation: 

There are models within the region for successful apprenticeships – and they’re growing. 

Each of the panelists introduced their apprenticeship offerings within the region, nationally, and internationally.  

CityWorks DC facilitates Career Wise DC, a three-year youth apprenticeship program under the CareerWise USA umbrella that has provided local high school students with a paid pathway to full-time employment since 2020. (Note: GWP board partners Clark Construction and Georgetown University are participants.)  

Beyond CareerWise, CityWorks partners with the Greater Washington Apprenticeship Network (GWAN) to manage the Aon Apprenticeship, which allows students to pursue an associate degree at the University of the District of Columbia while working 25 to 30 hours per week at Aon.  

In the US, JPMorgan Chase collaborates with the NYC CEO Jobs Council and City University of New York (CUNY) to provide college students with software engineering and business operations apprenticeships. JPMC also offers 11 apprenticeships across the globe. 

In 2019, Howard Community College began offering its first apprenticeship program in construction management and has since expanded, stretching to new fields like cybersecurity and health care, and collecting success stories along the way.

A scalable and equitable approach to apprenticeship requires marketing to nontraditional and underrepresented populations. 

The panelists discussed challenges employers have faced nationally in reaching and enrolling apprentices. For Carter, the response is intentionality, and it should stem from the top of the institution. Howard Community College president Daria J. Willis has pushed her team to consider which talent pools aren’t traditionally reached and to tailor their efforts accordingly.  

Carter also noted that strong programs stem from employers keeping students front of mind: “[It’s] building that relationship not only with the college but with the student as well, to know what the expectations are, the timetables, the cost, the flexibility. Our apprenticeship program was built on the back of knowing that many of our students are part time.” 

Employers should be intentional about identifying roles for apprenticeships. 

A role that is a good fit for an apprenticeship program should be a demonstrated talent gap for the company, allow an apprentice to contribute from the onset, and have a clear path for growth. As Niles shared, “the employer needs to think about how to craft a job so apprentices can do productive work, have a willingness to train, and have a true talent need – not just approach it as a corporate social responsibility strategy.”  

If employers can be intentional in selecting the roles for apprenticeships, learners develop pathways not only into, but through, the company. 

Employers can leverage intermediaries for wraparound support. 

According to the panelists, employers and intermediaries should assess a potential relationship and understand the capacity each can bring to the table.  

For intermediaries, their value add is often their ability to offer support beyond the classroom and workplace. Once apprentices are in their programs, CityWorks provides transportation and childcare support, as well as competency evaluations and coaching.  

CityWorks and HCC also both help employers by taking the lead on marketing, outreach and recruitment.

The field of apprenticeship in the U.S. has room to grow across industries. 

Registered apprentices make up just 0.3% of our national workforce and are heavily concentrated in construction and skilled trades, in comparison to some countries where apprenticeships are more prevalent and evenly spread across industries.   

However, apprenticeships in the US are expanding, with organizations like CityWorks launching a new three-year youth apprenticeship with the U.S. Department of Labor to place high school students in federal positions.  

Craig expects growth in tech apprenticeship programs across sectors, seeing parallels between training in skilled trades and training workers in how to use, manipulate and integrate platforms. 

Similarly, Carter sees a positive outlook for the region, projecting new activity spurred by new federal Tech Hubs funding for Baltimore: “It’s something institutions can look at and say, ‘this is where federal and state interest is going. If we know health care, cyber and national defense are going to be big, how do we get ready now?’” 

While there are challenges for any organization looking to build and scale their apprenticeship offerings, there are several successful models regionally and nationally that support the development of apprenticeship programs. Leaders like our panelists are at the forefront of further expanding this innovative workforce development model, and we’re excited to see how their work continues to shape the apprenticeship landscape. 

“The stakeholder buy-in is crucial. Once you have that, finding the right managers who are committed, who understand what they’re signing up for. And, bringing them along on the journey with you and getting their feedback as you’re going.” – Kyla McNally

For more insights from our panelists, check out a recording of the webinar below. Stay tuned for forthcoming Future of Talent webinars from the Partnership. 

To learn more about Greater Washington Partnership’s Skills & Talent initiatives, contact Emily West at [email protected].

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