The Value of an Apprenticeship Program Case Study

The Value of an Apprenticeship Program Case Study

Fortune 500 company builds sustainable, diverse talent pipeline through apprenticeships

Prioritizing initiatives related to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) is now table stakes for organizations large and small. Overwhelmingly, HR leaders consider DEI one of the top five priorities for their businesses this year. 

Diverse perspectives, ideas and beliefs strengthen organizations, foster innovation and attract talent who also value inclusion in the workplace. But even the most committed companies struggle with how to put that commitment into action. 

It’s one thing for a company to say they want to recruit and hire highly skilled, diverse talent, but another to build and execute a sustainable talent acquisition strategy centered on DEI. Many organizations are unsure where to start and unaware of the resources available to them.

Apprenticeship case study: Supporting talent acquisition

A Fortune 500 insurance company reached out to YUPRO with this very challenge. The company had a longstanding commitment to DEI both internally within the workplace and also within the marketplace.  As a leader in DEI, their investment in these efforts was evident through corporate contributions to partner organizations serving diverse talent and committing multimillion-dollar investments in their own DEI talent acquisition strategies. 

While talent acquisition teams were actively working to recruit underrepresented talent, their efforts weren’t delivering the desired results. They sought a partnership that provided the network, alignment in mission and ongoing support to both the client and talent to fill the gaps within their own talent acquisition strategy. Specifically, the team wanted to reach diverse, untapped talent pools previously omitted from their recruiting strategy and expand the organization’s pipeline for entry and mid-level positions.

Organization leadership approached YUPRO because they recognized the benefits of apprenticeships and knew we were an industry leader with a strong reputation for delivering work-based learning programs that produce immediate results.

Building an apprenticeship program as a pathway to full-time employment

An investment in an apprenticeship program would help the organization recruit untapped talent and provide apprentices with skills-based training in high-demand, entry-level positions within the company. 

The program is built to establish a pathway for talent from apprenticeship completion to full-time employment. Talent receive market wages starting at $19 an hour and work alongside full-time team members for 26 weeks to gain critical hands-on experience.

To start, we leveraged our extensive talent database of over 30,000 trained and skilled job seekers to match candidates with the organization’s in-demand entry and mid-level positions. Based on geography and skillsets, the company started small with five apprentices to support business and financial operations, software development, information technology, and sales and customer support. 

Support is a critical component of YUPRO’s partnership with this company. Regular touch bases with managers and apprentices ensure both program leadership and talent needs and expectations are being met. Additionally, apprentices attend weekly professional development training with YUPRO coaches. Individual coaching sessions equip talent with skills needed to navigate the workplace and to help connect their contributions to the company’s overall success. 

To date, 27 apprentices have completed this apprenticeship program with 90% accepting full-time positions with this employer partner.

A work-based learning program that goes above and beyond for corporations and talent

Hiring managers lean on YUPRO’s team of coaches and account managers to deliver just-in-time coaching and career success plans. This strategic approach allows the organization to focus less on how to attract talent and more on assessing and hiring the best talent based on their skills. 

However, success goes beyond the impact on the company’s goals. We encourage feedback from our apprentices and consistently hear that our individualized coaching and mentoring are of tremendous value to their professional development. Our weekly professional development hour brings together apprentices from across the country to learn from each other and share successes and struggles. One apprentice’s story illustrates this support perfectly. 

An HR operations apprentice was off to a rocky start. She struggled with navigating the workplace and understanding how to communicate clear expectations and priorities. Both she and the manager were at a loss with how to move forward and reached out to YUPRO for support.

YUPRO account managers worked closely with both parties to identify the best approach to support the apprentice. Our team leveraged their training to help the manager and apprentice create a shared action plan with clear and aligned deliverables, providing the apprentice with tips, coaching and resources to help her understand and prioritize assigned tasks. We also connected her with social care support through our resources network at https://myyupro.findhelp.com/

As a result, the apprentice began to thrive professionally. Following her apprenticeship, she accepted a full-time HR Coordinator role within the company. 

Skills-based hiring supports DEI initiatives

This skills-based approach to hiring has helped the company build a sustainable pipeline of non-degreed, diverse talent to address future hiring needs. This success has led to company-wide support and acknowledgment of the value of apprenticeship programs.

Their audacious DEI goals are socialized from top leadership through the entire organization. Their expanded view of DEI has allowed them to shift perspectives and practices to focus on skills development and metrics that truly matter. 

With the apprenticeship program, the company has created new pathways to employment for traditionally underrepresented talent that were overlooked in their traditional recruiting methods. With YUPRO as a partner, the company now has support systems for talent starting before they come on site all the way through their career.

Company leaders have built a model for what successful skills-based hiring should look like. They are expanding their engagement with YUPRO as a key partner in their DEI hiring strategy for all entry-level and middle-skill talent needs across the organization. 

How an Apprenticeship Launches Your Career

Set aside everything you think you know about apprenticeships. Often considered in the context of high-skilled trade careers, such as plumbing, construction, welding, and mechanics, apprenticeships abound in a much broader swath of fields. Today’s apprenticeships are offered in industries ranging from information technology, financial services, and consumer banking to healthcare, insurance, and higher education.

Apprenticeships empower you to reach your full potential and guide you toward a successful career path, all while paying a fair market wage. They jumpstart your career through critical on-the-job training. Additionally, in economically challenging times, apprenticeships offer stable employment and the strong likelihood of a full-time job after completion.

Instead of waiting years to begin their career journey, most apprentices are fast-tracked and starting a full-time job within about six months. 

What is an apprenticeship and who is it for?

Simply put, an apprenticeship is an accelerated career path connecting you with today’s most in-demand jobs. It’s a paid job in which you gain industry-driven, in-demand skills and experience through on-the-job learning. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, there are currently 600,000 active apprentices and 27,000 registered apprenticeship programs across the country. 

Seeking onramps to in-demand careers, apprentices are paid to gain the skills and experience needed for entry-level jobs in technology, business, software development, and financial services. For some, an apprenticeship is an alternative to a four-year degree. For others, it’s the starting point for their post-high school education. 

Apprenticeships are designed to fast-track motivated, hard-working individuals into permanent roles within America’s largest companies, such as Accenture, The Bank of New York Mellon Corporation, Microsoft, and Wayfair. Ninety-two percent of apprentices retain employment after completion of the program. 

Structure and expectations

Think of an apprenticeship as a full-time job where your core responsibility is to learn everything you can about your chosen career for a set period of time. It’s hands-on experience with a paycheck. 

YUPRO apprenticeships, for example, are 26 weeks long and apprentices work approximately 37 hours a week earning a market wage during the entire program. YUPRO also offers benefits, including health insurance, professional mentors and social care resources, and provides apprentices with opportunities for online learning that results in industry-recognized certifications.

As with any job, you’re expected to show up on time, complete the work you’re assigned, seek feedback, and commit to the full apprenticeship journey. The pot of gold in the end is a job where the average starting salary is approximately $50,000.

What should you look for in an apprenticeship?

An apprenticeship prepares you for a real job in the real world, but a great apprenticeship takes it a step further. Look for a program that provides strong support, mentorship, and career coaching throughout your program. Your experience should be one of acceptance, encouragement, and patience, not judgment, detachment, or apathy. 

Of course, life doesn’t stop just because you are an apprentice. Family responsibilities, illnesses, transportation issues, and other personal struggles can impact your availability and mental wellness. Look for an apprenticeship that offers flexibility and access to resources in times of need. A strong partner will show compassion and help you work through difficult times.

Seek to understand a program’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). You’ll want to understand the composition of their board and senior leadership ranks, as well as their plans for increasing DEI at those levels. Additionally, ask how they support DEI at the mid and entry levels. For example, do they offer mentorship programs? What about career coaching and social care resources? Do they pay fair market wages and offer health and wellness benefits?

Finally, inquire about the apprenticeship program completion rates and full-time job placement rates upon program completion. You want to know the likelihood of a real job with career progression at the end of the program.

At YUPRO, 90% of apprentices complete the program and land a full-time job!

What is the value of an apprenticeship?

Skilled workers are desperately needed in the workforce—right now! But those without four-year degrees are often overlooked and face barriers to employment. An apprenticeship can break down barriers and send your resume to the top of the pile. 

An apprenticeship will help overcome gaps in employment, position you for the next step in your career, and recession-proof your resume. Wage-based apprenticeships also provide you with financial security while you learn. At YUPRO, apprenticeships earn an average of $20 per hour while gaining legitimate work experience with an organization that values diversity and welcomes different perspectives. 

Start forging your career path

Your skills, your life experience, and your unique perspectives matter. You deserve success, growth, financial stability, and a career you’re passionate about. An apprenticeship can be a stepping stone to that and more. 

An apprenticeship could be the life-changing, career-building opportunity you’ve been searching for. Start your career journey today

Closing Skills Gaps Through Apprenticeships

There is a growing global skills shortage that is leaving American businesses vulnerable. It is a problem that cannot be solved with brilliant recruiting or generous perks. It is not a matter of finding more skilled candidates. With more than 11 million unfilled jobs in the current U. S. economy, traditional talent pools appear to be tapped out. The skills gap is a fundamental challenge that requires rethinking how you build the skills needed to thrive as well as the talent best suited to help you fill the gaps. How an employer approaches the need for building skills and creating opportunities to learn can lead to new, untapped sources of talent. One increasingly effective way to do this is to resurrect a practice popular in the Middle Ages: apprenticeship. It is the old, new way to build critical skills, close skills gaps, and open up opportunities for individuals often overlooked by traditional recruiting approaches. 

Restrictive Job Descriptions and Job Postings Limit Opportunities 

Employees tend to be happier and more engaged in their work when they have opportunities to gain experience, hone valuable skills, and achieve new levels of growth. Yet, traditional hiring practices with restrictive job descriptions continue to set absolute requirements that preclude anyone who doesn’t already have the skills, educational credentials, and certifications needed for the positions they want to fill. Pre-pandemic, we started to recognize that our tried-and-true hiring models were exposing skills gaps. This has become more apparent this past year, with Hisayuki Idekoba (CEO of Recruit Holdings Co., which runs Indeed.com and Glassdoor) declaring that we need to move away from the traditional resume-profile culture. In fact, there is a growing trend for employers to remove degree requirements from from both job descriptions and job postings to broaden the pool of applicants. A study of 51 million jobs by Harvard Business School and Burning Glass Institute found that degree requirements were eliminated from nearly one-half of middle-skill and nearly one-third of high-skill jobs over a two-year period. That led researchers to estimate that some 1.4 million jobs would open up over the next five years for candidates without college degrees.

Try a New, Yet Proven, Approach to Acquire Skills

To tackle these issues, companies can embrace entry-level, work-based learning through apprenticeship programs. Rather than stick with outdated hiring practices that fall short in addressing hiring needs, apprenticeship programs offer opportunities to discover fresh talent while building skills and support for a high level of job engagement and company loyalty. 

A growing number of companies are investing in apprenticeship programs. Based on the most current year for which data is available from the Department of Labor, in a single year, nearly 26,000 programs helped more than 636,000 apprentices learn new skills.

Former U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez suggests that “Apprenticeship is the other college–except without the debt.” Apprenticeships allow those who don’t have four-year degrees to be hired into professional roles. This, in turn, helps create a more diverse workforce, with applicants chosen for their aptitude for a position rather than arbitrary degree thresholds for jobs that do not truly require them. Creative Niche CEO Mandy Gilbert describes apprenticeships this way: “Apprenticeship programs are like mini colleges, only the company is steering the curriculum… The organization pays [students] to learn their systems, adapt their preferred skillsets, and in the end, employs a highly skilled worker.” 

Start with a Partner

It isn’t hard to build work-based learning programs, once you have the commitment to do so and the right partner. Many businesses, labor unions, and technical institutions are now turning to non-profit training providers and community-based career preparation organizations to recruit apprentices. So even if you aren’t sure about managing your own program, you can partner with your city’s employment office or local non-profits that specialize in matching businesses with qualified workers to find large numbers of motivated and interested apprenticeship candidates. This also creates more socially responsible alternatives to traditional corporate staffing practices.

How Work-Based Learning Programs Can Succeed

YUPRO, a public benefit corporation in the staffing industry, has had tremendous success providing traditionally untapped talent to many Fortune 500 companies. These firms committed to hire non-degreed talent for entry-level apprenticeship roles in cybersecurity, data analysis, and other IT roles, where degrees aren’t necessarily a proof point for success. A proven approach to building the future workforce is to offer apprentices market-based wages, comprehensive benefits, and the opportunity to learn the high-demand skills needed for a successful career.  

Economic Bonus

Data shows that apprenticeships can contribute to a strong economy. Switzerland’s post-secondary apprenticeship program has garnered the participation of 40% of its employers, and 70% of Swiss students opt-in. In turn, Switzerland’s youth unemployment rate is under 4%, where the U.S. has more than double that rate at 10.2%. Following suit will not be easy, but it is possible. The Accenture apprenticeship program is a leading model in our country. Its skills-first focus for entry-level talent is helping it expand its workforce from the ground up. 

Bridge the Experience Gap to Close the Skills Gap

Apprenticeships are not a new concept, but in their current incarnation, they can help employers reach untapped talent, focus on potential, and invest in solving their own hiring demand. An apprenticeship program is a long-term solution that can contribute to greater diversity, innovation, engagement, and profit. 

YUPRO collaborates with companies to address their entry-level and middle-skill talent demand, giving partners access to an untapped talent community at various career stages who have the technical, professional, digital, and interpersonal skills required for in-demand jobs. When we work together, the challenges of building an effective apprenticeship program fade away, leading the way for a better and more equitable experience for everyone. To learn how you can build an apprenticeship program, connect with our team at partnerwithus@yupro.com.