By the end of last year, there were nearly 448,000 registered apprentices in the U.S., with almost 14,000 in active manufacturing apprenticeship programs, but there are still more than 600,000 open manufacturing jobs and few skilled workers to fill them. In response to this shortage, Tooling U-SME has established a work-based learning model called the Apprenticeship Acceleration Framework that will help transform the future of training and assist manufacturers and educators in building successful apprenticeship programs tailored to meet specific job needs at their companies.

The Framework defines specific knowledge and skill requirements aligned with common apprenticeship job functions. By establishing apprenticeship programs based on industry-wide standards, American employers that sponsor apprenticeships can build a pipeline of skilled workers, boost retention, reduce recruiting costs, and improve productivity.

“Traditionally, apprenticeship programs have been constructed through the completion of educational hours combined with on-the-job training hours. Unfortunately, the system has always lacked an industry-wide standard, leaving companies with the task of doing the heavy lifting to carry out the program design, implementation, and management,” said John Hindman, director of learning and performance improvement, Tooling U-SME. “With the dwindling number of skilled workers, and an effort to rebuild apprenticeship programs across the country, we have been presented with an opportunity to modernize the apprenticeship model.”

Tooling U-SME’s model ties traditional apprenticeship initiatives with training programs that identify specific knowledge and skills required throughout the duration of an individual’s apprenticeship. The competencies are stackable and customizable, so manufacturing companies and educators can take the models and adapt them to requirements that will align with their business needs and processes.

“Some of the initial models developed include CNC operators, maintenance technicians, and additive manufacturing technicians; these models will provide a roadmap for the successful development of apprentices within every organization. The roadmap aligns to the Department of Labor’s (DOL) requirements for related training instruction hours and on-the-job training objectives,” said Hindman. “With these models, Tooling U-SME creates a more standardized method of validating an apprentice’s skills over time,” he said.