Rhodes State College (RSC), located in Lima, Ohio, has focused on expanding registered apprenticeship programs in our region since 2012. Initially, RSC concentrated on providing the related technical instruction for local manufacturers incorporating our current credit coursework and additional courses that needed to be developed to meet industry needs. The development of the courses was done through collaboration between the employers and RSC. RSC listened to the needs of the employer and established learning objectives for the credit courses. In addition to developing new courses, current courses are continually being improved to meet the evolving needs of the employers. Our registered apprentices can now earn college credit for their related technical instruction that leads to a completion of college certificates, associate degrees, and bachelor’s degrees.
Registered apprenticeship programs can be highly competitive, and the selection process varies by the individual employer. Colleges can help support the selection of those apprentices by offering assessment testing, interview guidelines, study sessions, and mock interviews. Each of these services can be used independently or can be combined to help support the selection process. RSC partnered with one local employer to offer a comprehensive selection process. The program consists of skills training that is voluntary for the prospective registered apprentice to attend that covers basic math, mechanical skills, and spatial relations. Nationally recognized assessment testing in mechanical reasoning, math, and spatial relations were administered to each potential registered apprentice. RSC offered mock interviews to help support individuals with their interviewing skills as well as supported the employer with the development of an interview guide to be used for each interview. There were more than 60 applicants who went through the process and of those, 13 were chosen to begin the registered apprenticeship program. Colleges are also a great resource for employers to help recruit students who are interested in becoming registered apprentices or pre-apprentices.
Pre-apprenticeship programs are designed to prepare individuals to enter and succeed in a registered apprenticeship program. These programs promote a diverse and skilled workforce and prepare participants to meet the basic qualifications for entry into a registered apprenticeship. RSC has worked with local high schools and community centers to develop pre-apprenticeship programs that focus on in-demand occupations in healthcare, manufacturing, and agriculture. Pre-apprentices can move seamlessly into RA programs, creating a pipeline of students with entry-level skills available to employers who provide RA programming. RSC developed a healthcare pre-apprenticeship program in which participants are given the opportunity to explore healthcare careers and earn the State Tested Nursing Assistant (STNA) credential. The program was designed to allow for various pathways for a student. A student can move forward into a RA program in STNA and earn an additional credential such as activities director or dietary aide. The student could also pursue further education and a career as a licensed practical nurse or a registered nurse.
To support local RA programs, colleges can become a Registered Apprenticeship Sponsor. In 2016, RSC became a RA Sponsor, meaning RSC can work with employers to assist them in developing their related technical instruction (RTI) and on-the-job (OJT) training, both required to create the standard of apprenticeship. The college can support employers by handling some of the administrative tasks that are required by the U.S. Department of Labor. Today, 65% of the college’s registered apprentices who are taking their RTI through the college are sponsored by RSC.