The Institute for Advanced Learning and Research (IALR) supports the creation and implementation of apprenticeship programs for employers across Southern Virginia through the Expanding Talent through Registered Apprenticeship (ExTRA) program. State Registered Apprenticeship provides on-the-job training, related technical instruction and a paid job as one cohesive experience, making them the “pinnacle” work-based learning opportunity. 

The goal is to increase apprenticeships in the region across all sectors, with an initial focus on construction, healthcare, early childhood education, manufacturing and information technology.

From 2022 to the present, ExTRA helped register 36 apprentices into 18 apprenticeship programs. Many more programs are in development.

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Apprenticeship Coordinator

Natori Neal

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Office: 434.766.6657
Natori Neal
Meet The Team

Why Registered Apprenticeship 

Registered apprenticeship is a high-quality, industry-driven workforce training strategy that combines on-the-job training and classroom instruction to develop highly skilled employees in a particular occupation. What apprentices learn on the job is supplemented by classroom training, providing the theory as to why and how they do things on the job.

In partnership with IALR, the Danville Life Saving Crew – the primary Emergency Medical Services provider for the City of Danville – signed 13 individuals as Virginia’s first Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) registered apprentices during an October ceremony.

The apprentices are paid during their training period and receive compensation increases as they attain certain skills and training milestones. Once the worker completes the required on-the-job training and classroom components (related technical instruction), they obtain a portable nationally recognized credential that demonstrates journeyworker-level proficiency. This credential, combined with their practical experience, equips them to train future apprentices, fostering a continuous flow of skilled talent for businesses. The paid on-the-job training element reduces entry barriers for employees and expands the available talent pool for businesses.

  • Registered apprenticeship terms vary by occupation and are set by the state apprenticeship agency. They are customizable to meet an employer’s individual training needs.
  • At a minimum, apprenticeship programs require 2,000 hours of on-the-job training and 144 hours of classroom training, which can be completed in about a year; others require as much as 10,000 hours of on-the-job training.
  • Employers can customize the related technical instruction for their needs and choose the instruction provider or teach it themselves.
"This EMT apprenticeship program will benefit the participants by providing mandatory training for an EMT position. Adding a cohort of new EMTs like this enables the Danville Life Saving Crew to grow its team and provide qualified emergency medical personnel for our community. Working with Tori and the Institute has…"
Johnny Mills / Danville Life Saving Crew
"We believe that apprenticeship programs like this are essential to our future success. We understand that by investing in the next generation of talent, we are not only shaping our own success but fostering a culture of learning and development. Our apprenticeship programs are not just a part of our…"
Neville Moe / Litehouse Foods
"I can’t speak highly enough of all the help we have received from IALR in getting our apprenticeship program started. It’s been wonderful. When you as an employer invest back into your workforce, you see huge returns."
Justin Hylton / Southside Mechanical Services

Support for Southern Virginia Apprenticeships 

IALR worked with partners, the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry and the Virginia Technical Institute, to help Southside Mechanical Services (SMS) of Danville, VA achieve registration as a state apprenticeship sponsor.

IALR is approved by the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry Division of Registered Apprenticeship as a state apprenticeship intermediary. Through ExTRA, IALR provides the following types of support to employers across the 15 localities in GO Virginia Region 3:

  • Stakeholder education
  • Technical assistance to develop and register apprenticeship programs and apprentices with the State Apprenticeship Agency
  • Grant funding to support employer-related technical instruction costs up to $2,700 annually per apprentice
  • Connections to employers and talent
  • Apprenticeship consortium network

IALR helps businesses to become employer sponsors of registered apprenticeship programs by providing step by step program development and registration assistance. In some instances, IALR will serve as the program sponsor for certain occupations which allows employers to participate in an established program and receive program administrative support.

2023 ExTRA Award Winners

The ExTRA program supports employers of all sizes, ranging from small businesses with just a handful of employees to large organizations with hundreds of employees. Companies that are interested in apprenticeships should contact Natori Neal.

In Southern Virginia, the need for an apprenticeship focus was evident after a 2018 apprenticeship analysis was completed by IALR for GO Virginia Region 3. Over 100 companies responded, and 87 employers expressed interest in considering offering apprenticeships in the near future (within three years). These employers indicated that their highest needs were for information and technical assistance as well as funding for related technical instruction.

ExTRA helps meet those needs. The program is funded through a $497,890 grant from the Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission, which was awarded in late 2022.

Common Apprenticeship Questions

What is the difference between apprenticeships and internships?

IALR also supports businesses in the development and implementation of successful internship programs across Southern Virginia. 

  Apprenticeship Internship
Duration Long Term: 1-6 years Short term 1-3 months (12 months)
Employment  Company employee with no anticipated employment end date Temporary or seasonal
Learning  Structured on-the-job training and related technical instruction required General exposure to industry/work environment through entry-level or project-based experiences
Compensation  Always paid with progressive wages Paid or Unpaid 
Mentorship Mentor required during entire process Optional
Credential  Nationally recognized credential at program completion and other credentials may also be obtained Not typically obtained
What sectors have registered apprenticeship?

There are over 1,000 apprenticeable occupations in industries such as:

  • Construction
  • Healthcare
  • Hospitality
  • Advanced Manufacturing
  • Education
  • Energy
  • Information Technology & Cybersecurity
  • Transportation
What are the benefits of apprenticeship for employers?
  • Customized to meet employer needs
  • Improved pipeline of skilled workers
  • 91% employee retention among apprenticeship completers
  • Promotes teamwork
  • 44.3% median return on investment
  • Grant funding/ tax credit opportunities
  • Demonstrates investment in your community
  • No cost for program registration
What are the benefits of apprenticeship programs for apprentices?
  • Learn and earn
  • High-quality career pathway
  • Portable, nationally recognized credential
  • Mentorship
  • Decreased or no college/higher education debt
  • Industry experience
  • Opportunity to earn college credit

Apprentice Spotlight:

Justin Carter

Employer: Owens-Illinois (O-I)
Occupation: Mold Maker

Why did you Choose to become an apprentice? I really want to be able to get my journeyman’s card. I think becoming an apprentice helped me take my career to the next level.

What do you Like about being an apprentice? I like that I’m able to learn about how a bottle is made and what it takes to fix the equipment needed to obtain a high-quality bottle. I have very good trainers that are showing me everything I need to know in order for me to be a good asset to the mold shop.

What are your day-to-day experiences as an apprentice? On a daily basis at the moment I am repairing blanks and working on my speed in order to keep the machines running. I’m also learning how to repair molds.

What advice would you give future apprentices? Come ready to go to work and be willing to learn everything you can in order to be the best you can be.

Youth Apprentice Spotlight

The following individuals are high school students who are participating in local youth registered apprenticeship programs. These youth apprentices obtain related technical instruction from Southern Virginia Higher Education Center’s Career Tech Academy.

Name: Kate Bishop
Employer: ProductWorks
Occupation: Mechanical Engineering apprentice

“My favorite thing about being an apprentice here is the opportunities are endless and every day I come and get to learn something new and hands on.”

Name: Alexander Shaw
Employer: Hitachi Energy
Occupation: Welder apprentice

“The best opportunity you will have is doing an apprenticeship. It gives you real world experience. You get to do hands on most of the time, and if you have a job you’re looking toward, you’ll already be ready for it, and you’ll have experience.”

To learn more about registered apprenticeship, eligibility for ExTRA RTI funding, and any other questions around apprenticeship Contact Us