At Lockheed Martin (LM), apprenticeships take many forms. They are geared toward everyone from high school students to mid-career professionals looking to change career paths, and that is where Lockheed Martin’s Career Development Technician Apprenticeship program comes in.
Just as sports teams rely on coaches to guide them to success, Lockheed Martin ensures the success of its apprenticeship programs by building capabilities from the inside out. The Career Development Technician Registered Apprenticeship Program prepares Lockheed Martin employees, called Apprenticeship Navigators, to support the design and scaling of apprenticeship programs across the enterprise during all phases of development.
General Approaches to Establishing Registered Apprenticeship Programs
In 2017, Lockheed Martin was just starting to build its apprenticeship capability at the enterprise level. The LM Apprenticeship Resource team was formed and it began supporting its business areas in establishing registered apprenticeship programs. In October 2018, LM had only three occupations, under its DOL-approved National Standards of Apprenticeship. By August 2020, the company had 726 registered apprentices in 25 programs, ranging from advanced manufacturing occupations to cyber, software, IT, engineering, human resources, and other non-traditional occupations that included innovative workforce development strategies for registered apprenticeship programs. For example, LM was the first company in the U.S. to develop a Payroll Specialist RA program under the Accountant Technician USDOL occupational title. That program includes a career pathway for high school students.
Another key registered program that LM developed is the Career Development Technician program. This program is unique to the A&D industry and expands LM’s capability by creating apprenticeship experts embedded across the enterprise. The program is innovative in its design to develop apprentices to become experts in apprenticeships, supporting apprenticeships across Lockheed Martin’s entire enterprise. These experts form a networked enterprise team supporting apprenticeship programming and sharing challenges and successes with each other. In addition to establishing an enterprise apprenticeship capability during this time LM also registered its programs with the U.S. Veterans Administration enabling LM’s veteran community to access quality training and industry work experience, as well as obtain financial incentives using their GI Bill benefits.
The LM Apprenticeship Resource team, under a newly formed Strategic Workforce Initiatives function, continues to expand its service offerings, develop new work-based learning programs and scale existing programs to address the needs of its customers.
Colleges can play an important part in the larger ecosystem of registered apprenticeships. As a community partner to businesses in the regions that they serve, community colleges are uniquely positioned to effectively serve the needs of the businesses and their apprenticeship participants. Many businesses collaborate directly with community colleges to provide some or all the related instruction courses required under apprenticeship programs. These courses can result in participating apprentices receiving college credit toward their associate degree, as is the case with LM’s partnership with the College of Central Florida (CF). For many, this can result in an on ramp into college. Effective college/business partnerships can result in a win-win-win scenario: businesses receive high-quality, trained employees, apprentices receive a high-quality education with college credit, and the college builds a potential pipeline of future academic degree seekers.
Well-planned partnerships and a holistic approach to apprenticeships and career pathways can further benefit all parties. Using stacked or progressive apprenticeship programs over time can produce enough college credit to result in academic certificate, associate and bachelor’s degree credentials. This provides additional revenue for colleges, an academic credential for the apprentice, and a well-educated employee for the employer all obtained under the framework of apprenticeship.
Taken to the next level, corporate college campuses can be built creating an extension of the partnering college by physically and virtually locating inside of the business as part of the apprenticeship framework. Lockheed Martin has created a MOU with CF involving the sharing of equipment, classroom space, instructors, curriculum, training materials and supplies in furtherance of creating a presence of LM at the college, and the college at LM. It is a comprehensive and effective approach to apprentice (employee) development, academic relevancy, and professional development of both faculty and employer instructors. Utilizing the expert knowledge of the employer’s staff delivering education in the context of the business has clear and distinct advantages to maximizing benefits while minimizing the time and money spent on developing employees. These corporate campuses rely on articulation agreements with the employer. Education delivered on the college’s behalf rely on the use of the employer’s professionals and subject matter experts as adjunct faculty of the college. Employer apprenticeship programs are reviewed by the college for academic credit. This can include academic credit for both classroom related instruction courses required under an apprenticeship program, as well as “co-ops” structured to include credit for on-the-job learning that occurs every day.
This rigorous competency-based, contextualized education is what employers need to remain competitive and to grow a knowledgeable and effective workforce of the future. This model allows apprenticeship programs and education to both move at the speed of business. Local colleges can create incredibly close partnerships with businesses, solve very challenging business problems, and create a pipeline of students into and through their college programs that are directly connected to employment in their field of study. This is and should be the prime objective of any community college.
Jessie Johnson, Ph.D., is one of Lockheed Martin’s Apprenticeship Navigators who is completing the Career Development Technician apprenticeship program in the company’s Missiles and Fire Control (MFC) business area. Jessie is helping create new apprenticeships, devising strategies to expand the hiring pipeline and creating development programs that drive innovation and expand employee skillsets.
While working with MFC engineers, Jessie saw an opportunity for cyber engineers hired out of college to become apprentices, encouraging them to apply their knowledge and increase their skills. Jessie worked with cyber engineering subject matter experts to create a new cyber engineering apprenticeship. Upon completion of this apprenticeship, cyber engineers will be better prepared to take on the high-tech world of aerospace and defense engineering, and Lockheed Martin will gain employees trained to support the company’s missions.
After only a few months at Lockheed Martin, Jessie was asked to lead MFC’s apprenticeship efforts to better align with corporate priorities and to grow the programs which now include the development, implementation and sustainment of multiple apprenticeship programs that are developing hundreds of apprentices across Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control.
With dedicated employees like Jessie helping manage apprenticeship opportunities, the company can more efficiently recruit, develop, and retain talent. Jessie sees the potential for apprenticeships like hers to revolutionize the way A&D human resources functions.
In working with industry partners on the development and implementation of apprenticeship programs, colleges should remain flexible. They may be working with smaller companies who rely on the college to sponsor the apprenticeship programs, provide the related instruction, provide college credit for related instruction, manage the apprentice training and reporting to the Department of Labor, and perhaps even recruit apprentices. However, in working with larger employers, colleges may find that the employer, like Lockheed Martin, sponsors their own apprenticeship programs and therefore may need the college to deliver possibly only a portion of the related instruction, and should position itself as a flexible partner to support the industry partner’s goals related to recruiting talent and workforce development. Colleges can establish meaningful relationships with industry partners by aiding with curriculum development, providing training capacity both physical capacity and delivery capacity, as well as aligning industry partners and funding opportunities that support the use of apprenticeship.