IALR to create regional apprenticeship consortium and serve as VA DOLI intermediary sponsor for employers
The Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission (TRRC) has awarded the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research (IALR) a grant of $497,890 for its ExTRA (Expanding Talent through Registered Apprenticeships) program to grow state registered apprenticeships within the 15 Southern Virginia localities throughout GO Virginia Region 3. IALR will create a regional apprenticeship consortium to recruit apprentices and employers, as well as serve as the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry’s (DOLI) intermediary sponsor to help employers lacking capacity to fulfill the role as primary sponsor.
Virginia’s Registered Apprenticeship program is an occupation-specific training model designed to produce highly skilled workers to meet the demands of employers. The model includes a combination of on-the-job training and related technical instruction with a paid job experience for the employees.
“Apprenticeships are a win-win for both employers and job seekers willing to learn on the job,” said Dr. Julie Brown, Vice President, Advanced Learning, IALR. “The employer remains globally competitive by recruiting and retaining a highly skilled staff, and the job seeker receives a job with a good starting wage, valuable training and the chance to earn a portable Journeyworker credential without accumulating debt.”
In alignment with economic development interests and employer needs, IALR will focus on expanding apprenticeships for occupations in construction, healthcare, early childhood education, manufacturing and information technology. TRRC funding will support the following:
- continued support for a dedicated Apprenticeship Coordinator to provide technical assistance to employers in designing apprenticeship opportunities;
- incentives to employers to cover the direct costs of the required Related Technical Instruction (anticipated at 144 hours per year per apprenticeship), limited to $2,700 per year per apprentice; and
- development of a regional apprenticeship consortium with a website and marketing materials to support recruitment.
IALR plans to provide assistance for up to 36 new apprentices each year for three years, for a total of 108 apprentices (recognizing that depending on the selected occupation apprenticeship, terms can run one, two, three or four years). Employers will provide wages and fringe benefits averaging $16 per hour.
New apprenticeships will be registered through the state DOLI. Apprentices who succeed in this program will receive their Journeyworker credential, a nationally recognized certificate demonstrating an individual has completed an apprenticeship and has the ability to perform all tasks of the trade in the area certified.
The Danville Regional Foundation and employers will provide matching funds for the grant. The total estimated contribution from employers (for apprenticeship wages and benefits) is over $7 million for the three years of the grant period.
The TRRC grant award is a follow-up to the $64,800 2021 TRRC grant award, which funded the development of an implementation plan with a list of employers, by sector, who were interested in establishing an apprenticeship program; and details on the credentials for the different apprenticeship programs and associated training needs. Apprenticeship Coordinator Natori Neal of IALR, hired as part of this project, completed the aforementioned requirements, worked to have IALR approved as a Virginia DOLI intermediary sponsor, and has already begun assisting employers through the apprenticeship process.
“IALR works to increase awareness for registered apprenticeship as a high-quality, work-based learning model, provide companies with program development and registration support, and offer connections to resources that are integral to program sustainability,” said Neal. “We also have the capability to manage the administration of programs for businesses that do not have the capacity to serve as the primary sponsors of apprenticeship programs.”
Neal has helped five employers establish registered apprenticeship programs and currently has one company participating as an employer of record in an IALR-sponsored apprenticeship program.
“The journey to establish our apprenticeship program has not been one we’ve traveled alone,” said Justin Hylton, Vice President of plumbing solutions provider Southside Mechanical Services Inc. in Danville. “We’ve had a lot of help from the folks at the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research, our DOLI representative, as well as the people with Virginia Technical Institute.”
State registered apprenticeships are one aspect of IALR’s EmPOWER framework to promote work-based learning. An employer-driven system, EmPOWER provides job seekers opportunities and tools for career awareness, career exposure and engagement, and career experience, all to drive employment.
“ExTRA aligns perfectly with the Commonwealth’s goals to increase opportunities for licensing, training and job opportunities for in-demand, high-paying skilled positions,” said Jessie Vernon, Program Manager, IALR. “IALR is here to serve as an accessible resource and helpful guide for businesses and potential apprentices. In this way, we hope to generate more state registered apprenticeships, what we consider to be the pinnacle of work-based learning experiences.”
Interested businesses or potential apprentices should contact Neal at firstname.lastname@example.org or 434.766.6657.