Policy Chapters and Sections

Registered Apprenticeship

Chapter: 12 Section: 1
Effective Date: 10/30/2020
Expiration Date: Continuing
Published Date: 10/30/2020 8:29:48 PM
Status: Current
Version: 1

Registered Apprenticeship (RA) is a proven model of job preparation that combines paid on-the-job training (OJT) with related instruction to progressively increase workers’ skill levels and wages. RA is also a business-driven model that provides an effective way for employers to recruit, train, and retain highly skilled workers. It allows employers to develop and apply industry standards to training programs, thereby increasing productivity and the quality of the workforce. 

Components of Registered Apprenticeship (RA) Programs

All RA programs must consist of the following five core components:

  • Business Involvement - Businesses are the foundation of every program; they must play an active role in building RA programs and be involved in every step of their design and execution. 
  • On-the-Job Training (OJT) - Every RA program includes structured OJT. Companies hire Registered Apprentices and provide hands-on training from an experienced mentor. Every program requires at least 2,000 hours of OJT each year of the program. 
  • Related Training Instruction (RTI) - Registered Apprentices receive RTI or classroom style training that complements the OJT. RTI helps to refine the technical and academic skills that apply to the job. RTI may be provided by a community college, technical school or college, an apprenticeship training school, or by the business itself. The sponsor selects the RTI provider. The instruction can be provided at the school, online or at the work site. Apprentices must receive a minimum of 144 hours for each year of their RA program. 
  • Rewards for Skills Gains - Registered Apprentices receive increases in pay as their skills and knowledge increase. 
  • National Occupational Credential - Every graduate of an RA program receives a nationally-recognized credential, referred to as a Certificate of Completion, which is issued by the U.S. Department of Labor. This portable credential signifies that the apprentices is fully qualified to successfully perform an occupation.

Program Length

RA programs range from one year to five years in length. The RA system approves time-based, competency-based, and hybrid programs. 

Benefits of RA

RA programs provide numerous benefits to job seekers and employers: 

  • National Credential - Every graduate of an RA program receives a nationally-recognized credential, referred to as a Certificate of Completion, which is issued by the USDOL. This portable credential signifies the Registered Apprentice is fully qualified to successfully perform an occupation.
  • Quality Standards - Registration means the program has met national standards for quality and rigor. Registration tells prospective employees, customers, and suppliers that the business invests in its workforce and believes employees are its most important asset.
  • High Quality and Safe Working Conditions - Emphasis on program safety may reduce worker compensation costs.
  • Technical Assistance and Support - Assistance in the creation of RA programs, including support, ongoing expertise, and technical assistance throughout the use of the program. 
  • Funding from the Iowa Apprenticeship Act (15 B and 15 C)  and other Federal Resources

Role of IowaWORKS Staff

It is the responsibility of IowaWORKS staff to engage with businesses by discussing:

  • Benefits of RA with employers, 
  • Support the development of RA programs including OJT and RTI plans, and 
  • Marketing and recruitment strategies 

It is the responsibility of IowaWORKS staff to engage with jobseekers by discussing:

  • RA as a viable career path,
  • Assessments (if applicable to the RA program), 
  • Supportive services
  • Job development 
  • Case management, and 
  • Referrals to RA sponsors. 

Role of U.S. DOL/OA

The U.S. DOL/OA in Iowa is responsible for registering programs that meet federal standards, issuing certificates of completion to Registered Apprentices, encouraging the development of new programs through outreach and technical assistance, protecting the safety and welfare of the Registered Apprentice, and ensuring that all programs provide high-quality training. 

Registration of Employers 

Employers may have different responsibilities within a RA program. An RA program can be registered through: 

  • Employers who provide RTI - Provide formal in-house instruction as well as OJT at the work site. The employer is the sponsor in this scenario. 
  • Employers who use an outside educational provider - The education provider delivers the RTI. Employers can use two- or four-year post-secondary institutions, technical training schools or online courses for related instruction. The employer is the sponsor in this scenario. 
  • Joint Apprenticeship Training Programs - These programs are run by a joint labor-management committee and are composed of employers and unions. They have apprenticeship training centers where the RTI is delivered. The training schools are usually administered by the union. The unions are typically the sponsor.  
  • Intermediaries - Intermediaries will serve as the sponsor when they take responsibility for the administration of the RA program. They can also provide expertise such as curriculum development, classroom instruction, and supportive services as appropriate:
    • Intermediaries include two- and four-year postsecondary institutions or technical schools - In this model, the educational institution administers the program, works with employers to hire apprentices, and provides classroom or online instruction for the apprenticeship program. 
    • Industry association administers the program and works with employer/member and educational entities to implement the RA programs.
    • Community-based organizations administer the program and work with employers, educational entities, and the community to implement the RA program.
  • National Program Standards 

National Programs

RA Sponsors may choose to register as a state program or a national program depending on the administration of the program. U.S. DOL/OA will make the final determination regarding how a program is registered.  When working with employers interested in becoming national RA Sponsors, it must be determined if the employer meets one of the following categories of National Program Standards. 

  • Single employers operating in multiple states: 
    • Operate facilities in five or more states, and apprenticeship programs in at least three states
    • Have a minimum of 300 employees
    • Have an achievable strategy for registering at least 20 apprentices within two years from approval by the U.S. DOL/OA.
  • Group program sponsors operating in multiple states. (This category includes intermediary organizations, such as national industry associations, umbrella organizations, educational institutions, or other consortia).
    • Have three or more employers using the sponsor's national standards
    • Have registered or have a documented plan to register apprentices in at least three states
    • Have an achievable strategy for registering at least 20 apprentices within two years from approval by the U.S. DOL/OA
  • Sponsors with multi-state or national growth potential.
    • Have an achievable strategy for registering at least 20 apprentices within two years from approval by the U.S. DOL/OA; and
    • Demonstrate in their written plans that they have any of these attributes:
      • Strong potential for multi-state or nationwide expansion, particularly in a high-growth sector, or in a sector or geographic region where apprenticeship programs are not currently widespread
      • Distinctive compensation, training or instructional features that make registration more appropriate for a national, rather than state-by-state approach

The following National Apprenticeship Program benefits must be explained to employers:

  • Simplify their program registration and operation across multiple locations
  • Offer a single point of registration for programs operating in multiple states
  • Establish uniform program guidelines to facilitate easy adoption across multiple locations
  • Provide for reciprocal registration on a nationwide basis
  • Ease of registration in State Apprenticeship Agency (SAA) states 

High School RA Programs

Students may begin RA programs in high school and are subsequently fully registered as a Registered Apprentice, as documented by the sponsor in the RA data management system. Students may begin RTI and OJT prior to entering an RA program. The apprentice agreement must be signed by a parent/guardian if the student is under the age of 18.  

Students take courses at their high school and/or community or technical colleges for the RTI of the RA program in addition to their required high school coursework. At the school district’s discretion, these courses may count toward high school graduation, and coursework can start as early as ninth grade.  

Post-secondary credits are awarded based on signed articulation agreements established between local school districts, post-secondary institutions, and RA programs. Accredited online programs or recognized RA training centers may also award these credits in accordance with the program’s standards. 

Students may start OJT activities at the age of 16. OJT activities will count towards their entry into the RA program. The specific types and conditions of permissible work activities are outlined for 16-and 17-year olds in the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and in State Child Labor laws. The OJT portion of the program is flexible. It can be done when school is not in session (including summers and weekends) or as part of a work-study program. 

Students are employed by the RA sponsor and are under supervision of a skilled mentor during the OJT learning. 

The RA sponsor will continue to employ the individual and count the OJT hours earned in high school toward the RA program. Post-secondary coursework can be provided by community, technical or four-year colleges, accredited online programs or recognized RA training centers in accordance with the program’s standards. 

Quality Pre-Apprenticeship Programs

Quality Pre-Apprenticeship programs must include the following elements:  

  • RA Sponsor - Each program must have a documented partnership with at least one RA program. The sponsor should assist in the creation of the Quality Pre-Apprenticeship Program. 
  • Approved training and curriculum - Based on industry standards and approved by the RA sponsor.
  • Strategies for long-term success - Strategies that increase RA opportunities for underrepresented populations, disadvantaged or low-skilled individuals, such that, upon completion, they will meet the entry requirements, gain consideration, and are prepared for success in one or more RA programs. Strategies include:
    • Outreach to populations underrepresented in local, state, and national RA programs
    • Educational and pre-vocational services that prepare individuals to meet the entry requisites of one or more RA programs:
    • Specific career and industry awareness workshops
      • Job readiness courses
      • English for speakers of other languages
      • Adult Basic Education
      • Financial literacy seminars
      • Math tutoring 
      • Other related programs
    • Exposing participants to local, state, and national RA programs and providing direct assistance to participants applying to those programs
  • Access to appropriate supportive services - during the Quality Pre-Apprenticeship program and a significant portion of the RA program.
  • Promote greater use of RAs to increase future opportunities - by supporting the ongoing sustainability of the partnership between Quality Pre-Apprenticeship providers and RA sponsors.
  • Meaningful hands-on training that does not displace paid employees - Training is provided to individuals in a simulated lab experience or though volunteer opportunities, when possible. The program should accurately simulate the industry and occupational conditions of the partnering RA sponsor(s) while observing proper supervision and safety protocols.
  • Facilitated entry and/or articulation - When possible, formalized agreements exist with RA sponsors that enable individuals who have successfully completed the Quality Pre-Apprenticeship program to enter directly into an RA program and/or include articulation agreements for earning advanced credit/placement for skills and competencies already acquired. 

Coordination of Quality Pre-Apprenticeship and the following programs is encouraged as an experiential learning opportunity:

  • WIOA Title I Youth 
  • YouthBuild
  • Job Corps

Quality Pre-Apprenticeship programs must meet WIOA requirements and go through the full Eligible Training Provider enrollment process.

Referral of RA and Quality Pre-Apprenticeship Programs 

U.S.DOL/OA is responsible for registration of all RA programs and recognition of all Quality Pre-Apprenticeship programs.  A standard referral form for an RA program and Quality Pre-Apprenticeship programs must be completed.  Upon completion of this form, the program is referred to the U.S. DOL/OA for registration or recognition . 

Required Enrollment in Wagner-Peyser

Individuals hired by RA Sponsors must be enrolled in Wagner-Peyser, have a completed Individual Employment Plan (IEP) and Objective Assessment (OBA) and be assigned to a RA Career Planner for case management. 

Incarcerated individuals in a RA program receiving participant level basic or individualized career services must be enrolled in Wagner-Peyser. All services including, but not limited to, RA must be documented in the data management system. If the participant remains institutionalized upon program exit, the exit reason selected must be Institutionalized.

Data Collection Requirements

Data collection is captured for RA activities in the data management system and within the U.S. DOL/OA data management system. Services that impact the following metrics must be documented within the data management system: 

  • Total number of new businesses engaged
  • Total number of new RA programs
  • Total number of existing RA programs expanded (e.g., adding occupations or increasing the number of apprentices registered)
  • Total number of participants receiving services under this grant, which could include Quality Pre-Apprentices 
  • Total number of Registered Apprentices
  • Number and percentage of women served in RA
  • Number and percentage of underrepresented populations served in RA
  • Number and percentage of youth (age 16-24) served in RA
  • Number and percentage of veterans served in RA
  • Percentage of apprentices served who complete their RA program (Statewide Completion Rate)

To demonstrate integration with the workforce delivery system, services that impact the following metrics must be also documented within the data management system: 

  • Total number and percentage of Registered Apprentices receiving any services under WIOA Titles I through IV 
  • Total number of RA sponsors receiving support from the State Workforce System with screening, referrals, assessments and other services that support the RA program
  • Total number of RA sponsors receiving WIOA-funded support for their Registered  Apprentices (e.g., supportive services, RTI, OJT, etc.)

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