Last week, the US Department of Labor announced the award of $5 million in grants to support registered apprenticeship programs across the country. As part of the grant award, Ohio workers will benefit from the Industrial Manufacturing Technician (IMT) hybrid manufacturing apprenticeship in partnership with unions and their employers. It will promote the growth of the manufacturing sector and advance the skills of production workers. The AFL-CIO Working for America Institute is partnering with Jobs for the Future, a national workforce intermediary, in the collaborative project.
“We are proud of the professional skills that Ohio union apprenticeship programs provide to workers,” said Ohio AFL-CIO President Tim Burga. “Apprenticeships are an important pathway to jobs that provide working people with wages to sustain a family. As we look at innovative ways to combat income inequality and to raise wages for all workers, apprenticeship programs should be at the center of that discussion,” he said.
Burga also expressed his gratitude to Senator Sherrod Brown, who helped make the new apprenticeship program a reality. “Once again, Senator Brown has exemplified what it means to fight for the working people of Ohio,” Burga said. “Senator Brown continues to fight for Ohio’s manufacturing sector and all its workers so that we can compete in the global economy,” he said.
The apprenticeship grants are part of a larger push by the Obama Administration to highlight the need for affordable, quality career and education choices for students and workers.
The IMT is based on the Manufacturing Skills Standards Certification (MSSC) – world-class standards set by industry and labor. The IMT was developed by WRTP in collaboration with a diverse group of manufacturing employers and unions that include machining, electrical and food processing. Employer representatives included John Deere, Pure Power Technologies, GE Medical Systems, HB Performance Systems, and Ocean Spray.
Representatives from key Industrial Unions included the United Auto Workers (UAW), International Association of Machinists (IAM), United Steel Workers (USW), International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union (BCTGM), Sheet Metal Workers (SMWIA) as well as the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO. This ensured that employer, training and worker interests were aligned in the development of the IMT apprenticeship. Representatives from the workforce development system, career and technical education also assisted.
The IMT apprenticeship was formally recognized by the U.S. Department of Labor in November 2014 and is being implemented in three states – Wisconsin, Michigan and Minnesota with plans to expand to other industrial states in the coming year. The IMT includes 264 hours of related instruction and 2,736 hours of on-the-job learning leading to journey-level certification.
The IMT apprenticeship works because it is designed and implemented through a joint labor-management structure. The IMT provides career pathways to advanced manufacturing as well as stackable industry recognized credentials. Related instruction is competency-based and the design is flexible to respond to specific employers and industry sub-sector needs.