The Who, What, When, Where, Why & How of Apprenticeships

About Registered Apprenticeships:

Defining a Registered Apprenticeship_Fact2Apprenticeship:


Registered Apprenticeship is an employer-driven method of training that pairs on-the-job learning with related technical instruction in order to increase apprentices’ skills. Manufacturers participating in The Network are interested in developing registered programs, which validate the apprenticeship’s quality and ensures that all apprentices who finish their training will earn a nationally recognized certificate of completion.

Benefits of Registered Apprenticeship:

The earn-and-learn model of registered apprenticeship is time tested and a proven way to increase the skills of young people and career changers. If finding qualified applicants for your high-skill job openings is a challenge—or if your highly skilled employees are nearing retirement—then apprenticeship is a logical solution to prepare your business for the future. These are just some of the benefits that apprenticeship provides:

  • Help recruiting and developing a highly skilled workforce
  • Improving productivity and the bottom line
  • Reducing turnover costs and improving employee retention
  • Creating industry-driven and flexible training solutions
  • Potential brand/product improvements via a highly-trained workforce
  • Opportunities to offset training costs.

Because Registered Apprenticeship is backed by the Department of Labor, you gain access to resources and funding that you couldn’t otherwise tap into. As part of The Network, your company is eligible for employer reimbursements, technical assistance, and a network of support.

Types of Apprenticeships:

A key element of apprenticeship is structured OJT. While most occupations include at least some on-the-job learning, it often happens informally and without much structure. By adopting the registered apprenticeship approach, you are committing to providing every apprentice with opportunities to learn a pre-determined set of skills. How you do this—and how you report it to the Office of Apprenticeship in your state—depends on the model you select. There are currently three options available, as described in Figure 2, below.

Time-Based Competency-Based Hybrid
Apprentices complete a required number of hours in OJT and RTI Apprentices progress at their own pace—they demonstrate proficiency through assessments, but are not required to complete a specific number of hours. Apprentices complete OJT within a range of hours and successfully demonstrate proficiency in predetermined competencies.

Programs that choose the Time-Based Model must develop a Work Process Schedule, which identifies the skills and processes an apprentice must learn and the number of hours of OJT the apprentice must complete in each skill. For instance, a machinist apprentice in a Time-Based program may be required to complete 1000 hours of training in the operation of machine tools. Most apprenticeable occupations have Work Process Schedules on file with the Office of Apprenticeship that would spell out suggested skills and related training hours; these can be modified to meet the demands of your company.

Programs that choose the Competency-Based Model must develop Core Competency Requirements, which identify the competencies an apprentice must master and the assessment or credentials they must complete in order to demonstrate their proficiency. In this model, the number of OJT hours is not prescribed, allowing an apprentice to move more quickly through the program or to spend more time to acquire a skill as needed.

Hybrid programs typically develop a Work Process Schedule similar to the Time-Based Model, but will also indicate when an apprentice must complete an assessment to demonstrate proficiency.

Advantages of a Competency Based Apprenticeship SystemSource: NIMS Competency-Based Apprenticeship Implementation Guide

  • Recognition of a journeyworker certification can more clearly communicate the level of skills attained and mastered
  • An apprentice can focus on mastering skills within an occupation at his or her own pace
  • An apprentice can move to the next skill level or achieve journeyworker status upon demonstration of the required competency
  • Programs can be designed to facilitate upward and/or lateral mobility by including competency standards in diverse skill areas within the training occupation
  • Cost savings can be achieved by reducing the amount of time needed for the training of some apprentices.

Group and Individual Sponsorship:

As a member of The Network you are eligible to participate in the MVMC Group Sponsored Model or to develop your company’s individual sponsored model. Which model you choose will determine which parts of this Blueprint you need to focus on.

Choose the group model if: Choose the individual model if:
Your company is small, you plan to hire a few apprentices each year, you need machinists, and/or you are comfortable making decisions by consensus with other manufacturers using the group model. Your company is large, you plan to hire more than five apprentices each year, you have the administrative capacity to manage your program, and/or you are prefer to have complete control over your program.

Companies participating in The Network will benefit from the AAI award through a number of services and incentives to support your company as you develop, expand, or improve your apprenticeship program.

Throughout the American Apprenticeship Initiative, MVMC staff is available to support manufacturers in developing their apprenticeship programs. The team can help your company:

    • Understand the registered apprenticeship training model
    • Identify existing models for the occupations you need
    • Connect you with appropriate resources to assist with your program
    • Draft Standards of Apprenticeship, on-the-job training, and classroom instruction outlines based upon your input
    • Submit your registration paperwork to the state apprenticeship agency for full recognition in the National Registered Apprenticeship System
    • Assist you with program updates as your workforce needs evolve

Find Your Occupation:Employer Recruitment Brochure 1

Is Apprenticeship Right For You?


We think so! The goal of the Network is to simplify and streamline the logistics so that you can focus on training your staff. Employers often tell us that apprenticeship isn’t a viable solution for their business because the rules and regulations are too confusing, or they don’t have the administrative staff to take on the paperwork required by the state or federal Office of Apprenticeship.


More than 1000 occupations are apprenticeable according to the Office of Apprenticeship, including some of the most common manufacturing jobs: machinist, welder, industrial maintenance technician, tool and die maker, and others. Whether you need to train one or 100 new employees, an apprenticeship can help.

Selecting Your Apprentice:

Apprentice Qualifications:

Now that you’ve put shape to your program, it’s time to start recruiting, hiring, and training apprentices. In Section Two (Developing a Program), you learned about the Standards of Apprenticeship, which includes determining the minimum qualifications for applicants and the selection procedure. In this section, we will discuss the importance of setting the right minimums to ensure the success of your program. Keep in mind that the apprenticeship selection process is not intended to replace your company’s human resources and on-boarding policies, but rather to complement them in order to maximize the apprenticeship’s results.

The Network recommends the following minimum qualifications based on best practice research:

  • Apprentices must be at least 18 years of age
  • Apprentices must have a high school diploma or GED
  • Apprentices must be physically able to complete tasks associated with the job
  • Apprentices must have demonstrated a strong work ethic through prior education and/or employment
  • Apprentices must be able to pass a drug test

In addition to these minimum requirements, companies may choose to require additional qualifications for applicants. One qualification some companies choose to implement is that all potential apprentices be current employees of the company.  This practice ensures that apprentices are a good fit for the company culture and allows both parties to demonstrate the potential for loyalty. Other companies are comfortable with new hires entering an apprenticeship program directly as a way to begin equipping them with the skills needed to succeed and grow on the job from day one.

It’s important to keep in mind that an apprenticeship is designed to offer individuals an opportunity to enter into a career pathway and to learn the necessary job skills while earning a wage. This requires a careful balance between attracting strong candidates and hiring individuals with the potential to learn. As you set your minimum qualifications, keep this in mind. You may want to develop an apprentice profile that highlights some of the skills and attributes your most successful new hires possess so that you can attract similar applicants to the program.

Candidates for Pre-Apprenticeship:

As you begin searching for candidates you may come across individuals with interest and potential, but not enough exposure or experience to manufacturing to currently be hired by your company. Keep in mind that you can refer these individuals to the Manufacturing Readiness Program.

The Manufacturing Readiness Program was created as a pre-apprenticeship course to prepare individuals for entry-level manufacturing positions. The class is conducted over seven weeks and participants earn seven nationally recognized credentials. Weeks one and two focus on work readiness and contextualized remediation, including: workplace skills, personal effectiveness, math and reading remediation, goal planning, team building, resume and interview workshops. Weeks three through six focus on technical training based upon the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and Manufacturing Skill Standard Council (MSSC) Certified Production Technician (CPT) curricula. Individuals successfully completing this program will earn nationally-recognized and transferable credentials (WorkKeys® National Career Readiness Certificate, OSHA-compliant 10 hour safety for general industry, and the MSSC CPT).

Attraction and Recruitment:

We don’t have to tell you that recruiting young people for jobs in manufacturing is difficult, but we believe that apprenticeship is, in itself, a recruitment strategy. Individuals without formal training are often caught in a catch-22 of needing to find work and needing to develop their skills at the same time. This often forces them to choose low-wage jobs, to avoid training programs that interfere with their work schedule, or to go into debt while pursuing traditional education. Apprenticeship allows individuals to choose both—working and learning—at the same time. This is the key message when recruiting for your program.

Still, it is important set expectations. The Manufacturing Institute explains:

Always be realistic in your portrayal of the Apprenticeship Program. Showcase the many advantages but do not down play the commitment needed to be successful in this role. This will help ensure that you are attracting the right pool of candidates.

Please refer to the Apprenticeship Playbook, pages 56-60, for a detailed approach to branding and marketing your program with these expectations in mind.

Apprentice Selection and Details:


Now that you have a strong pool of candidates applying to your program, the apprentice selection process begins. It is critically important that your selection process be objective and consistent. In your standards, you described the process—which may have included an interview, pre-tests, etc.—each candidate will go through. As always, the apprenticeship program does not supersede your company’s human resources policies, but it is usually a good idea to make your apprentices selection process more rigorous than your standard hiring procedure. Ideally, every apprentice you hire is agreeing to invest their time and energy into your company, and vice versa. It’s essential that this agreement isn’t entered into lightly.

For additional suggestions and strategies for selecting apprentices, see The Apprenticeship Assessment Process,  the Manufacturing Institute Apprenticeship Playbook, and the Greater Oh-Penn’s Apprenticeship Flow.

Wages and BenefitsApprenticeship_Fact5

An apprentice’s wage scale must be progressive and not less than the minimum wage stated in the Fair Labor Standards Act. The scale must reflect the skill level of the apprentice.

The wage scale can be based on monthly increments or by hourly increments; for example an apprentice may see their first wage increase after an assessment of skill at month 12 in the program or after hour 250 in the program, depending on the model chosen (time or  competency-based). A Base Skilled Wage Rate must be decided in order to establish the wage increase scale.

Apprentice wages are tied to progress in the program; increases must be issued when an apprentice successfully completes a performance period (determined in the Standards of Apprenticeship) or an assessment. Minimum increases are set in the standards; however, apprentices can and should receive wage increases in congruence with their progress. In other words, exemplary apprentices may receive increases above the minimum.

Probationary Periods

Probationary periods are designed to allow the employer/mentor and the apprentice time to learn one another and for the apprentice to make the necessary adjustments required to begin working successfully. This is separate from your company’s probationary periods for new hires. Generally, apprenticeship probationary periods are between 90 and 180 days from the start of their apprenticeship program. If an apprentice should decide to dissolve the apprenticeship within the probationary period, it will not have a negative impact on the apprenticeship program.

PA symbolPennsylvania Apprentice Selection: If your company is registering its apprenticeship in Pennsylvania, and you have fewer than five apprentices, you do not have to document your apprentice selection process in your standards.

Apprenticeship Retention:

It’s a common misconception that apprenticeship programs are a high-risk strategy for workforce development. In fact, in our best practice interviews with companies like Butech Bliss, Luk, Hamill Manufacturing, and Oberg Industries—all of which have had successful apprenticeship programs over a number of years or even decades—HR and operations managers have noted that their apprentices are among the most loyal employees.

Your Apprenticeship Program will not be successful without retaining your top performers. Once your top performers have been identified, you will want to make sure they successfully complete the program and transition into full time roles. Though the decision to stay or leave a program/company is a personal one, there are several areas you can focus on to engage and retain participants, especially top performers. This includes:

  • Provide competitive compensation
  • Foster a positive and respectful work environment
  • Create a sense of employment stability during the program
  • Explain that if successful, they will be well suited for a full-time position when available (do not guarantee employment)
  • Ensure that the apprentice feels the work is meaningful; effectively engage them
  • Provide appropriate recognition

A strong retention strategy can turn your best apprentices into your best long-term employees.

Designing a Registered Apprenticeship Program:

Key Components:

There are five key components of a registered apprenticeship.
Apprenticeship Components

The U.S. Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration’s Office of Apprenticeship describes these elements in “A Quick Start Toolkit: Building Registered Apprenticeship Program,” which we refer to throughout the Blueprint:

Employer Involvement: Employers are the foundation of every apprenticeship program and the skills needed by their workforce are at the core. Businesses must play an active role in building the program and be involved in every step in designing the apprenticeship.

On-the-Job Training: Every program includes structured on-the-job training. Apprentices get hands-on training from an experienced mentor at the job site for typically not less than one year. On-the-job training is developed through mapping the skills and knowledge that the apprentice must learn over the course of the program in order to be fully proficient at the job.

Related Instruction: Apprentices receive related instruction that complements on-the-job learning. This instruction delivers the technical, workforce, and academic competencies that apply to the job. It can be provided by a community college, a technical school, or an apprenticeship training school – or by the business itself. Education partners collaborate with business to develop the curriculum based on the skills and knowledge needed by apprentices. All partners work together to identify how to pay for the related instruction, including the cost to the employer and other funds that can be leveraged.

Rewards for Skill Gains: Apprentices receive increases in pay as their skills and knowledge increase. Start by establishing an entry wage and an ending wage, and build in progressive wage increases through the apprenticeship as skill benchmarks are attained by apprentices. Progressive wage increases help reward and motivate apprentices as they advance through their training.

National Occupational Credential: Every graduate of a Registered Apprenticeship program receives a nationally-recognized credential. As you build the program, keep in mind that apprenticeship programs are designed to ensure that apprentices master every skill and have all the knowledge needed to be fully proficient for a specific occupation.

Your Apprenticeship Program:

Choose the group model if: Choose the individual model if:
Your company is small, you plan to hire a few apprentices each year, you need machinists, and/or you are comfortable making decisions by consensus with other manufacturers using the group model. Your company is large, you plan to hire more than five apprentices each year, you have the administrative capacity to manage your program, and/or you are prefer to have complete control over your program.

For Assistance with Developing Your Apprenticeship Program or Joining the Group Model:

Contact Megan Wagner Ingram at

or Vicki Thompson at 

Grant Information
Find Your Occupation
Reimbursement Policies and Scenarios
Employer Application

Additional Information:


Understanding the Standards of Apprenticeship:

The Standards of Apprenticeship—often referred to as ‘standards’ spell out the nuts and bolts of your apprenticeship program—the occupational focus, how your company will select apprentices, the type of training that is covered on the job and in the classroom, and how apprentices will be evaluated. A registered apprenticeship program must adhere to the following standards:

  • The starting age of an apprentice to be not less than 16
  • Equal Opportunity Employment
  • Selection of apprentices on the basis of qualifications alone
  • Apprentice receives training and experience on the job
  • Organized training and learning
  • A progressive wage schedule
  • Assigned supervision
  • Standardized evaluations
  • Training records are maintained
  • Mentor-mentee relationship
  • Certification/Certificate of Completion

Additionally, Standards of Apprenticeship in both Ohio and Pennsylvania call for the following:

  • Identification of the Sponsor
  • List of occupations (ONET codes) associated with the Apprenticeship
  • Definitions of terms used in the Standards
  • The application procedure
  • Selection procedures
  • Provision on the awarding of credit for previous experience
  • Defined probationary period
  • Work Process – On-the-job training (OJT) or on-the-job learning (OJL)
  • Related Technical Instruction (RTI) or Related Instruction (RI)
  • Defined progression steps and wages
  • Ratio of apprentices to journeyworkers
  • Complaint procedures
  • Apprenticeship Agreements
  • Safety & Health Training
  • Hours and conditions of work
  • Continuous employment
  • Cancellation of apprenticeship agreement
  • Program registration/notice of registration agency
  • Affirmative Action Plan

For a detailed explanation of these elements, please refer to the Appendix “Annotated Standards of Apprenticeship.”

If you are interested in the group sponsored model, your company will adopt the Standards of Apprenticeship registered by MVMC. If you are interested in developing an individual apprenticeship, we can assist you in defining the standards that are right for your company and connect you with the appropriate state officials to ensure your standards meet the requirements of your state.

In addition to the Standards of Apprenticeship discussed above, each registered apprenticeship must define the Work Processes or Core Competencies that will be learned through on the job training (OJT) as well as the curriculum for Related Technical Instruction (RTI; also sometimes referred to as Related Instruction or RI). Elements of OJT and RTI are determined based upon the occupation and key competencies (knowledge, skills, and abilities) needed to do the job.

Staffing Your Apprenticeship Program:

Supervisors, Mentors, and Other Key Roles:

An apprenticeship program requires a team of individuals to function properly. For those manufacturers who choose to participate in the MVMC Group Sponsored Model, that team will include grant staff as well. In a small company, one person may wear many hats, but the following roles will always need to be filled:

Apprenticeship Coordinator: This person takes the lead role in working with the state Office of Apprenticeship to complete paperwork, track apprentice progress, and enter information into the system.

Supervisor: This person is responsible for overseeing the apprentice’s performance.

Mentor: This person is responsible for the apprentice’s on-the-job training (may be multiple people). Sometimes referred to as a journeyworker in the apprenticeship Standards and related documentation, this is a person skilled in the occupation the apprentice is training for. This can be somewhat confusing, because mentors do not have to have a Certificate of Apprenticeship or Journeyman’s card; they simply must have demonstrated expertise in the appropriate competencies. Please see the Appendix (Mentor Toolkit) for additional information about the critical role of the mentor.

Choosing Your Related Technical Instruction Institution:

Alongside OJT, apprentices will complete Related Technical Instruction (RTI) at the rate of 144 contact hours per year of OJT. Contact hours refer to the number of classroom hours that a course must meet during a semester.

The key to a well-designed apprenticeship is RTI that complements OJT, highlighting the academic underpinnings of the concepts and processes being learned at work. RTI may be offered by a number of providers, so long as each provider is named in the Standards of Apprenticeship approved by the Office of Apprenticeship. Classroom, hybrid, and online courses are all allowable.

The Network has a number of education partners, and staff can help you connect with each institution to identify existing courses and gaps that require customized alternatives. At the time of this writing, The Network has identified the following providers for manufacturers interested in offering apprenticeships in machining:

RTI Institution State County Online Courses? NIMS Credentials
A-Tech OH Ashtabula No No
Butler Community College PA Butler No No
Columbiana CCTC OH Columbiana No Yes
Eastern Gateway Community College OH Mahoning No No
Edinboro University PA Erie No No
Kent State University – Trumbull OH Trumbull Yes No
Laurel Technical Institute PA Mercer No No
Lawrence County Area Vo-Tech School PA Lawrence No No
Mahoning CCTC OH Mahoning No Yes
Maplewood CC OH Portage No Yes
National Tooling & Machining Association OH Cleveland Chapter Yes Yes
National Tooling & Machining Association PA Meadville Chapter Yes Yes
New Castle School of Trades PA Mercer No No
Precision Machining Institute PA Crawford Yes No
Trumbull TCTC OH Trumbull No Yes
Tooling U/SME OH Cuyahoga Yes No


Oh PicThe State of Ohio’s Related Technical Instruction provider guidelines:

Program requirements for registered apprenticeship in Ohio state that Related Technical Instruction (RTI) must be designated and/or provided in conjunction with the Ohio Department of Higher Education (formerly The University System of Ohio and/or The Ohio Board of Regents). This means the State requires your apprentice’s RTI be provided by a state university, community college, private university or college, or career and technical center. You can find a list of providers at:

There are exemptions available. An exemption request for the RTI provider is typically a letter submitted to the Ohio State Apprenticeship Council (OSAC) specifying the exemption request and the RTI provider. Typical allowable RTI provider exemptions:

  • if they have a nationally recognized program,
  • are approved by the U.S. Department of Labor Office of Apprenticeship,
  • are approved by the U.S. Department of Education, or
  • are approved by the Higher Learning Commission.

In-house training is also allowable through an exemption if the curricula is approved through a bi-lateral or articulation agreement with an Ohio Department of Higher Education school, and the instructors are subject matter experts (SMEs), and are certified in adult learning-styles teaching.

It is the RTI provider’s responsibility to provide documentation to OSAC of the approval by the U.S. Department of Labor Office of Apprenticeship, U.S. Department of Education and/or the Higher Learning Commission.

Selecting Your Apprentice:

Registering Your Apprenticeship & Receiving Reimbursement

*Interested in becoming an apprentice through your employer? Please fill out this form.

Printable Instructions can be found here.

Contact the Apprenticeship Network for assistance.

In Ohio or Pennsylvania – email Megan Wagner Ingram at

Employer Reviews the Employer Reimbursement Policy and agrees to terms within.

Employer completes the Employer Reimbursement Application and submits the Standards of Apprenticeship for which they are seeking reimbursement.

*Employers participating in MVMC’s group sponsored model communicates this with their Application.

Employer sends the Application and the Standards of Apprenticeship to the MVMC via email:

The West Central Job Partnership (MVMC’s fiscal agent) will draw up a Registered Apprenticeship Master Agreement and submit the Agreement to the employer for review and signature.

When an apprentice is registered (either through an individual company apprenticeship or the group sponsored model apprenticeship), the employer will submit a copy of the Ohio Apprenticeship Agreement or Pennsylvania Apprenticeship Agreement, along with the Apprenticeship Agreement Addendum (Ohio / Pennsylvania) questionnaire and the Ohio State Apprenticeship Council’s Voucher of Credit for Apprentices’ Previous Experience (When Applicable. Ohio only)

The MVMC will notify the West Central Job Partnership that an apprentice/s has been registered. The West Central Job Partnership will then issue an Addendum to the Master Agreement. This Addendum will outline the reimbursement rate and eligible training costs.

The Employer is responsible for invoicing the West Central Job Partnership at agreed upon reimbursement periods. An invoice template will be provided by West Central Job Partnership.