National Apprenticeship Week (NAW) is an annual, week-long celebration that gives businesses, communities, and educators the opportunity to showcase their apprenticeship programs to their communities and nationally while providing valuable information to career seekers. NAW was established by the U.S. Department of Labor and was first held November 1-7, 2015. Since that time, stakeholders have hosted more than 3,000 events with more than 300,000 attendees in all 50 states. AACC recognizes the impact apprenticeships have in helping Americans learn skills for jobs in growing industries and believes the NAW is an instrumental tool to showcase these benefits.
AACC encourages community colleges to be involved in this annual event, and to partner in this celebration with federal and state government agencies, national associations, labor unions, and their local industry partners. The events highlight the benefits of preparing a highly skilled workforce to meet the talent needs of job creators across diverse industries.
At a community college, celebrating National Apprenticeship Week can serve multiple purposes. It is, of course, an opportunity to celebrate the college’s work with apprenticeship. Beyond that, it is an opportunity to highlight, give thanks to, and promote employer partners. It is also an opportunity to do the same with other partner organizations and local leaders. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, it is a public relations opportunity to bring attention to the college, to the enrolled students, and to prospective students, parents, and educators in the community who influence career and educational choices.
Some of the events and activities that community colleges have been involved in related to NAW include apprenticeship program open houses for career seekers, skills competitions, community forums, apprentice graduations, business open houses, high school or college career fairs, apprenticeship signing days, and industry roundtable events. There also may be opportunities to leverage existing venues or events in order to maximize public notice, and attendance.
Colleges that wish to celebrate National Apprenticeship Week should begin planning early and ensure that the dates for specific events are provided to all interested parties with sufficient lead time to ensure invitations can be sent, calendars can be aligned, and all the requisite arrangement can be made.
Step 1. Identify how the college will celebrate National Apprenticeship Week. As noted above, there are many ways to do so, and colleges should consider narrowing their focus initially.
Step 2. Identify whose presence is necessary to make the event a success. Employer partners and apprentices are key to a successful event, but the college will want to ensure that no interested party is mistakenly omitted.
Step 3. Finalize dates, times, and activities and ensure that invitations are sent well in advance. Secondary institutions often work from calendars that are set months in advance or even at the outset of the school year. Save-the-date notices are essential to ensure robust attendance. Consult calendars from within and outside of the institution to ensure all the desired attendees are available to participate.
Step 4. Publicize the event. Colleges with the capacity to do so may wish to prepare a simple press kit for local media that eases the burden on reporters who wish to cover the event. A press kit may even foster coverage from media outlets that are unable to participate in person.
Step 5. Prepare the participants. National Apprenticeship Week events have the potential to highlight programs and individuals that are unaccustomed to the public spotlight. The college is encouraged to ensure that all public facing participants are comfortable with their roles, and with any speaking duties. Rehearsals and/or dry runs may be helpful in identifying any potential areas where additional preparation is needed.
Step 6. Conduct the event!
ECCA Successful Stories and Promising Practices
- Community College of Baltimore County (Maryland)
- Howard Community College (Maryland)
- Joliet Junior College (Illinois)
- Spokane Community College (Washington)
- The U.S. Department of Labor web page of National Apprenticeship Week resources
- National Apprenticeship Week 2020 report (U.S. Department of Labor)