Apprenticeship is a time-proven instructional delivery system that dates back to the Babylonian Empire. The California state apprenticeship system was established by the Shelley-Maloney Apprenticeship Labor Standards Act of 1939.
Traditional registered apprentice programs in California define a formal relationship between an employer and an employee in which the apprentice learns a craft or trade through formalized, on-the-job training and related classroom instruction. Individual programs typically span a period of three to five years. During each year of their apprenticeship, registered apprentices work on the job for 2,000 hours of reasonably continuous employment and attend approximately 144 hours of related and supplemental classroom instruction.
Related and Supplemental Instruction
An essential part of apprenticeship programs is formal classroom instruction that is integrated with on-the-job training. The growing importance of technical knowledge, academic skills, and the ability to make sound technical judgments has made the inclusion of formal classroom instruction that is tied to on-the-job training an integral component of apprenticeship programs.
Related and supplemental instruction (RSI) constitutes the classroom aspect of an apprenticeship program. That instruction is the joint responsibility of the local school district and program sponsors; regional occupational centers and programs (ROCPs) and adult schools, together with apprenticeship committees or other program sponsors, provide the required RSI.
Most of the funding to support RSI is provided by program sponsors. Supplemental funding, through California's annual budget, is administered by the California Department of Education. Throughout the fiscal year the Department makes distributions, based on pre-established funding limits and apprentices' actual attendance at the RSI courses, to approved local educational agencies (LEAs).
A single employer, an employer association, or a jointly sponsored labor/management association may sponsor apprenticeship programs.
Sponsors/employers develop the apprenticeship program standards. Program standards contain procedures for the fair and equal selection, employment, and training of apprentices. Sponsors/employers also evaluate work site conditions, determine the availability of facilities, review equipment, identify skilled workers to serve as trainers, and schedule work processes through which apprentices are rotated during training.
Sponsors/employers also share responsibility with LEAs for ensuring that industry standards are integrated into both on-the-job training and RSI content. Sponsors/employers and LEA representatives monitor and update the curriculum/workplace linkage, identify the changes necessary to keep the program current, and provide information on growth and projections of training needs in the industry.
Division of Apprenticeship Standards
All apprenticeship standards must be approved by the Chief of the Division of Apprenticeship Standards (DAS). The standards, prepared by program sponsors, include all terms and conditions required by the California Labor Code.
Sponsors select apprentices according to procedures set forth by the standards. Candidates enter into an apprentice agreement that registers them with DAS. Sponsors oversee apprentices' on-the-job training and attendance at related classes and, periodically, review apprentices' progress before recommending advancement to the next pay level.
When an apprentice has completed an entire program of on-the-job training and RSI, the sponsor recommends that DAS issue a Certificate of Completion of Apprenticeship.
After receiving a Certificate of Completion, an apprentice attains journeyman status. The certificate is recognized by industry as a valid indicator that the holder has received consistent, high-quality, standardized training and is prepared to serve at the journeyman level in the holder's craft or trade.
Advantages to the Student
Apprenticeship offers significant advantages to students in ROCPs and adult schools:
- Training to meet the needs of new and emerging crafts and trades
- Curriculum and training that tie to industry-supported standards
- Training to achieve journeyman status
- Increased earning power; wages and benefits that can lead to financial independence
- Motivation and resources for continued education
Advantages to the School
Apprenticeship programs offer benefits to LEAs:
- Purposeful links with employers and labor representatives
- Curriculum updates developed by members of an involved and motivated advisory committee
- Alternatives to student retention
- Options for solving motivation and career pathway dilemmas
- Solid linkages to curriculum integration
- Nontraditional career opportunities for women and minorities
Advantages to Employers, Labor, and the Community
Apprenticeship programs offer benefits to employers, labor, and the community by supporting:
- Responsive programs that meet the needs of the community's new and emerging businesses and industries
- Reductions in business and industry training costs
- Certified programs
- State-of-the-art equipment and facilities
- On-the-job training and RSI
Emerging K-12 Apprenticeship
Spurred by national initiatives, apprenticeship career path options, including school-to-career apprenticeship programs and pre-apprenticeship programs, have recently emerged.
The apprenticeship career pathway begins in elementary school with an integrated curriculum that supports apprenticeship awareness. Middle school students enjoy an integrated, modularized curriculum that promotes their exploration of apprenticeship opportunities. High school pre-apprenticeship, combining classroom and on-the-job training, provides experiences for students in one or more craft or trade.
Apprenticeship awareness occurs when students:
- Are aware of academic and career options
- Are provided integrated content and experiences that enhance the curriculum
- Receive an orientation to crafts and trades
- Understand various uses of technology
Apprenticeship explorations offer students:
- A broad-based, integrated, modularized curriculum
- Informed academic and career decision making
- An understanding of labor/management dynamics
- An understanding of the relationship between school and work
High School Pre-Apprenticeship
High school pre-apprenticeship offers opportunities for:
- Exploring essential skills
- Receiving on-the-job training and related instruction
- Building industry/education partnerships
- Understanding career-entry options
- Entering into a chosen career option
- Succeeding in school and in the workplace
John Dunn, Program Coordinator
Policy Alignment and Outreach Unit
Division of Workforce and Economic Development
California Community College Chancellor's Office