Running an effective registered apprenticeship program at Grand Rapids Community College (GRCC) began with creating an effective plan, with clear outcomes, measurements and who is responsible to deliver those outcomes. While building a plan seems natural, it is vital to bring partners to the table as the plan is being created, and to continue to communicate with those partners throughout the process. Plans require continual updating to refine strategies and outcomes. Our partnerships are vital to our work, and our apprenticeship work is no exception.
Partners involved from day one:
- Workforce board members from the U.S. Department of Labor America’s Career Center. (The state organization who oversees WIOA, PATH and other federal and state workforce funding initiatives in your community.) These partners bring vital additional resources and communication networks that will benefit the college and the students.
- Employer partners who have invested in apprenticeships. We cannot stress enough the importance of involving employers who have apprentices. Involvement by them will help grow the number of employers and apprentices. Never underestimate the value of one employer talking to another about the benefit of apprenticeships. This tactic will bring value more than any advertisement or email outreach.
- Faculty members from your college. Establish a communication process with faculty on what apprenticeships are and how they benefit students, even those who may already have started an educational pathway. Look for faculty in non-traditional apprenticeship areas. This communication steam internally creates a revenue of another set of individuals who interact with employers to extend the message and promote registered apprenticeship programs.
- Current apprentices. Use the student registered apprenticeship stories as a form of marketing to showcase the college registered apprenticeship program and industry partnerships. Use this marketing as a form of recruitment to attract new employers and students.
- Work closely with the communications department at your college. They will assist in building effective communication tools to assist in the expansion of your registered apprenticeship programs.
- Integrate your apprenticeship paperwork and tracking into processes you already use for student registration, student intake and reporting. Wherever possible use your campus student management system to input data, so it will be easier to “pull it” when you need it for quarterly reporting. great management systems require reviewing metrics regularly. At GRCC, we review our metrics every Monday morning in a 10-minute virtual “stand up meetings.” This process brings the focus back to our goals and reminds us what we must accomplish.
- Provide updates as a part of leadership meetings and college communications.