Support for Local Apprenticeship and Skills Training Programs

National Apprenticeship Week is a great time to consider how your industry can support local workforce development initiatives. Apprenticeships, on-the-job training, and skills-based certification programs are tools that enable labor, education, business, and civic leaders to join forces in their efforts to hire qualified workers and strengthen local economies.

COO & President Claude Powers is at the forefront of a Lake County initiative that will make accurate, comprehensive information about post-secondary career resources in Northwest Indiana.

A member of the Gary Chamber of Commerce (GCC) Education Committee, Powers and a group of local leaders have launched a Schools2Careers program with two initial areas of focus:

  1. Building a web-based clearinghouse with links to existing regional training programs and resources.
  2. Developing supplemental after-school programs for K-12 youth.

"Today's career paths are less linear. A college degree is no longer necessarily a dividing line or barrier for job applicants who seek meaningful careers, especially in construction. Often, it is a matter of guiding students and job seekers to the resources for learning new skills and knowledge, so we support approaches that combine education with hands-on work experience," Powers reports.

Pathways for Greater Opportunity
Apprenticeships can serve as the first step in a career journey that includes continued growth and advancement. Despite the availability of good jobs and wages with paid employment, OTJ training, and classroom instruction, less than one in ten apprentices are women. Groups like Chicago Women in Trades, the California-based Tradeswomen Inc., and the U.S. Department of Labor through its WANTO grant are helping to increase construction opportunities for women.

Some of the most in-demand construction jobs include construction project managers, with a projected growth rate of 11 percent growth through 2030. Others include first-line supervisors of construction trades workers, electricians, architectural and engineering managers, plumbers, carpenters, drywallers, and painters.

U.S. Labor Secretary Marty Walsh published a video explaining the critical impact registered apprenticeships make in America. They are available in hundreds of occupations that touch nearly every major economic sector and aspect of daily life.

Building a Strong Local Talent Pipeline
Powers says the GCC committee's work strengthens the Lake County economy by connecting employers with skilled job seekers who are trained to meet 21st century needs.

Programs available through the Construction Advancement Foundation and We Build Northwest Indiana are examples of what he expects to be links to 25 independent partners who share the same workforce development objectives.

  • The GCC website, slated to launch in the first half of 2022, will connect users with direct links to information about programs, services, resources, and benefits.
  • It will serve as a go-to platform for guidance counselors, educators, parents, high school students, young adults, career-changers, and those who have experienced challenges like job loss, homelessness, or incarceration.

Learn how you can support Northwest Indiana apprenticeships and the GCC Education Committee by emailing or calling the Gary Chamber of Commerce at 219.885.7407.