Apprenticeship Provides a Blueprint for the Future
Optimism in the Workforce Development Professional Apprenticeship Program

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Job coaches in the Workforce Development Professional Apprenticeship Program went through extensive training in the classroom and on the job and experienced, not only a professional transformation, but a personal one too. A group of managers and executives documented the dramatic changes.

Inside the Apprenticeship

Bob Lanter is a co-creator and instructor in the Workforce Development Professional Apprenticeship Program. He is also the executive director of the California Workforce Association (CWA) and sees workforce practitioners on a daily basis.

He grew increasingly concerned about a skills gap he noticed within the industry. And in response, he helped develop a new and innovative training program – the first non-trade apprenticeship approved by the State of California.

“One of the key aspects of this program is that seasoned as well as new staff are gaining the ability to ‘connect the dots’ on the workforce industry,” Lanter explained, “learning how workforce boards and America’s Job Centers of California were created, learning key techniques to improve their jobs, as well as leadership, project management, presentation and facilitation skills that make them better employees.”

Bob Lanter instructs the first cohort of the Workforce Development Professional Apprenticeship Program, 2016. (Babette Jimenez/College of Continuing Education)

Lanter says the Workforce Development Professional Apprenticeship Program is a “one-of-a-kind training program” that is “opening the minds and hearts of our state’s workforce development staff.”

The CWA is working with legislators on a workforce development apprenticeship program on a statewide level, on the heels of a successful run on the local level. Workforce leaders in Colorado have also called the association expressing interest in the apprenticeship.

“I have traveled the country and can safely say that there is no other training quite like this,” Lanter said. “In addition to a training curriculum that is both deep and wide, students participate in capstone assignments working on real life projects that are transforming their workplaces immediately.”

Apprenticeship’s Impact

Kathy Kossick is the executive director of the Sacramento Employment and Training Agency (SETA). She worked with the CWA and the College of Continuing Education (CCE) in recruiting the first cohort for the Workforce Development Professional Apprenticeship Program.

Her staff of 17 job coaches went through the apprenticeship and the impact was felt immediately. “This partnership brought structure to SETA’s hiring and advancement process and ensured that all workforce development professionals share a common set of industry-valued skills to advance their careers,” Kossick observed.

“As the first formal apprenticeship for the workforce development sector, this program has revolutionized and redefined the profession throughout California.” – Kathy Kossick, Executive Director, Sacramento Employment and Training Agency

Kathy Kossick, executive director of the Sacramento Employment and Training Agency (center, seated at the table), participates in the signing of state documents approving the apprenticeship program, 2015. (Babette Jimenez/College of Continuing Education)

“The program has impacted Sacramento County by providing workforce development professionals, who were responsible for counseling and coaching individual job seekers, with the knowledge and skills to develop relationships and lead initiatives with education, labor and business partners and expand the impact of workforce services across the capital region,” Kossick added.

Apprenticeship’s Future

Diane Ravnik (retired) chief of the California Division of Apprenticeship Standards (DAS), which approves and registers apprenticeship programs in California. She kept a close eye on this first cohort. 

The workforce apprentices were participating in “the first program of its kind in the state, and possibly the nation,” said Ravnik, who attended the apprentices’ capstone presentations and their graduation ceremony in November 2016. She saw a new generation of leaders emerge and a blueprint for the future.

“I believe Sacramento State’s Workforce Development Professional Certificate Program as the educational arm of this professional apprenticeship, will become a national model for similar programs around the country.” – Diane Ravnik, Chief, California Division of Apprenticeship Standards 

Diane Ravnik, (retired) chief of the California Division of Apprenticeship Standards, addresses the first cohort to complete the apprenticeship program, 2016. (Morgan Murphy/College of Continuing Education)

The Workforce Blueprint

Trade apprenticeships, which most of us are familiar with, are offered through community colleges and trade schools. An apprenticeship at the university level opens up new possibilities, Ravnik predicts, for fast-tracked, on-the-job training in non-trade professions. And she credits the Workforce Development Professional Apprenticeship Program

“This groundbreaking program exemplifies the kind of rigor, high standards and innovation that the California Division of Apprenticeship Standards seeks to expand in new industries and occupations around the state.”

Be sure to check out Testimonials. See how workforce development professionals are putting their new knowledge and skills to use – and how they are serving the people of California.

The Workforce Development Professional Apprenticeship Program was made possible in part by a grant from The Commission on the Extended University