June Newsletter: Moving apprenticeship forward

Greetings Fellow Members of the Apprenticeship Forward Community,

It’s hard to believe it's already been over a year since we started planning a first of its kind conference bringing together the growing and diverse field of apprenticeship. The vision for what would become the Apprenticeship Forward Conference was simple: create a space for a community of apprenticeship practitioners, policymakers and employers to have an overdue conversation about the future of apprenticeship in America.

We knew bringing together so many folks with so many perspectives and experiences in one place was never going to be easy. But after two days of watching you share ideas, challenges and contact information, there’s little doubt to us that Apprenticeship Forward was a major success. And we have you to thank for it.

Not only did you pack the house some 600 strong, but your energy and enthusiasm were on display start to finish. Those conversations produced invaluable insights on the state of apprenticeship today, as well as the collective opportunities and obstacles lying on the road ahead.

We know it was an intense couple of days and that’s because we covered a lot of ground:

  • We heard inspired remarks from national industry leaders who believe in the potential for apprenticeship to change their businesses and their communities.
  • We heard from state policymakers who are designing and implementing a vision to expand apprenticeship to new industries and open up access to new populations.
  • And importantly, we head from the apprentices themselves, whose touching stories and experiences ground the importance of this work.

We also used our time together to engage in small groups and dig into the promise and practice of apprenticeship in existing and emerging industry sectors, including IT, advanced manufacturing, construction, financial services and more. We examined innovations in apprenticeship to meet the needs of specific populations, from high school students, to veterans, to women and people of color. We captured the themes emerging from each of those dialogues and we will use them to shape future conversations.

We also carved out time to share lessons learned and discuss themes we in the field encounter every day. That includes the role of the workforce system in supporting apprenticeship, the role of state incentives to drive more industry to the table, and exploring new program models to meet the needs of emerging industries. Finally, we heard from federal policymakers about the new and emerging opportunities for expansion that exist and may be coming soon.

Though the Apprenticeship Forward the Conference is behind us, our work is far from done. We could not have convened this unique and diverse community of stakeholders without collaboration of our partners to make this happen. We are excited to continue to engage with all of them in the coming months and years to support your collective efforts to expand apprenticeship.

We are also thankful to the Departments of Labor and Education for their advice and guidance along the way. We of course owe particular gratitude for the generous support of the philanthropic organizations that made this all happen: the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the Joyce Foundation, the JPB Foundation, the JPMorgan Chase Foundation, and the Siemens Foundation.

But above all, we want to again thank you for your energy, openness and ideas. We hope you will use the connections you made at Apprenticeship Forward to sustain those two unique days of exchange and learning.

We promise to be in touch. In fact, you’ll be hearing from us throughout the summer. We’ll be keeping you in the loop on the work Apprenticeship Forward partners are leading across the country and will ask for your continued engagement as we collectively advance a vision for 21st century apprenticeship.

Thank you again, and we’re excited to see where we can go from here.

Sincerely,

Andy Van Kleunen
Chief Executive Officer
National Skills Coalition

Mary Alice McCarthy
Director, Center on Education and Skills
New America