Sac State’s Apprenticeship Program Tallies Success
Workforce Development Professional Apprenticeship Program Serves as a Model

Photo gallery

Students interact with Bob Lanter, executive director of the California Workforce Association, who’s a co-creator and instructor in the Workforce Development Professional Apprenticeship Program, 2016. (Babette Jimenez/College of Continuing Education)

6-Month Progress Report

A group of job coaches gave an old concept a new twist. Their employer, the Sacramento Employment and Training Agency (SETA), sent them through the Workforce Development Professional Apprenticeship Program, the first apprenticeship program offered at Sacramento State and an untried model for the State of California.

Ira Ayers worked in human resources and with foster youth before he was laid off. When he became a job coach, Ayers wanted his clients to know he’s been in their shoes, and that they “are not alone.” 2016. (Babette Jimenez/College of Continuing Education)

“We learned economic development,” explains graduate Ira Ayers, a job coach and workforce development professional. ”We’ve learned how to reach out to companies, how to strategize and equip workers to be ready for an employer.”

He credits the program for expanding his thinking, how to be a better communicator and adapt to changing circumstances. “I feel like the program has enhanced my ability to perform my job. I think we’re better equipped,” Ayers says.

Graduates Advance Their Careers

The 17 graduates from the program’s first cohort earned a professional certificate that’s valued in the workforce industry, a promotion from a Workforce Development Professional II classification to a Workforce Development Professional III and a 5-percent raise.

Robin Purdy, a co-creator and instructor of the apprenticeship program, celebrates with graduate Megan Bailey at the Workforce Development Professional Apprenticeship Program graduation, November 2016. (Morgan Murphy/College of Continuing Education)

The workforce development professionals took on new supervisory roles at SETA, leading new projects and developing “innovative ways to train and place job seekers,” says Robin Purdy, a co-creator and instructor in the apprenticeship program, who’s also a consultant at SETA.

Three of the graduates accepted new jobs at the California Workforce Association (CWA) as program managers, and a fourth took on a new role at the California Environmental Protection Agency as a program analyst.

The Opera Singer’s Story

“The apprenticeship program was a true turning point in my life,” says Brandon Anderson, a program manager, who is handling million-dollar training programs at CWA. He started out as an unemployed opera singer, who was hired by SETA as a clerk and typist. He was promoted to a job coach, where he prepared people with disabilities to enter the workforce as viable job candidates.

Anderson earned a spot in the apprenticeship program.

“I have learned so much higher level thinking from this apprenticeship. It has entirely changed the way I interact with my customers and my coworkers, for the better.” – Brandon Anderson, graduate

Workforce development professional Brandon Anderson, who’s an opera singer with a bachelor’s degree in music, finds a new audience to connect with during a class presentation, 2016. (Babette Jimenez/College of Continuing Education)

Anderson says he learned better ways of communicating. “I have learned so much higher level thinking from this apprenticeship. It has entirely changed the way I interact with my customers and my coworkers, for the better.”

Anderson says he also learned to see an even bigger picture of workforce development. “We’re not just engaging employers and job seekers but bringing community resources together to help customers on their path to finding full-time employment.”

Anderson took an unexpected path to his own full-time and fulfilling employment. In fact, at least one-third of the participants in the first cohort had been unemployed at one point in their lives. They know what it feels like.

“This program aligns with the federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) and has the potential to serve as a model for professional apprenticeships in other industries.” – Kathy Kossick, executive director, Sacramento Employment and Training Agency

Setting a Professional Standard

Kathy Kossick, SETA’s executive director, says the professional certificate earned through the apprenticeship set a much needed standard and “brought improved structure to SETA’s hiring and promotion process.”

Workforce development professionals now “share a common set of skills.” And Kossick says the program’s reach can go even further, that the educational arm of the apprenticeship “has the potential to serve as a model for professional apprenticeships in other industries.”

Diane Ravnik, chief of the California Division of Apprenticeship Standards, agrees with Kossick’s assessment, that CCE’s apprenticeship program can serve as a standard for workforce development agencies and as a model for new professional apprenticeships.

Interest in the Program Grows

Right now, workforce development apprenticeship programs are being replicated in Southern California, says Bob Lanter, CWA’s executive director, who’s a co-creator of the apprenticeship program and instructor. He says the program “is gaining the attention of workforce boards across the state,” and the state government is looking at ways to support the program.

Associate Dean Jenni Murphy of the College of Continuing Education is part of the team that created the Workforce Development Professional Apprenticeship Program, 2016. (Morgan Murphy/College of Continuing Education)

Lanter has made presentations on the apprenticeship program at state and national conferences. CCE’s Associate Dean Dr. Jenni Murphy and Senior Program Developer Babette Jimenez have made presentations on the state and national level as well.

Jimenez will report on the apprenticeship’s growth at CWA’s 20th annual conference in September. 

In addition, Murphy and Jimenez will give a presentation on alternative credential programs, like the workforce development apprenticeship, at the University Professional and Continuing Education Association-West Region conference in Seattle, also in September.

Program manager Tiffany Vrattos, left, helps coordinate the Workforce Development Professional Apprenticeship Program, with senior program developer Babette Jimenez, 2016 (Morgan Murphy/College of Continuing Education)

Lanter sums up the Workforce Development Professional Apprenticeship Program’s 6-month progress report: “I have been able to witness the development of a one-of-a-kind training program that is paying huge dividends to the employers and employees in the workforce program. CWA and our members stand fully in support of this effective program.”

Please check out Apprenticeship Provides a Blueprint for the Future.

Enrollment is underway for the second cohort, which begins in September 2017. For more information, please visit the Workforce Development Professional web page.

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