Apprenticeships: The Answer to Your Organization’s Latest and Greatest Emerging Risk

Apprenticeships: The Answer to Your Organization’s Latest and Greatest Emerging Risk

Speed of innovation, increasing regulations, and the pace of digitalization all remain as top risks facing organizations. But what is the latest and greatest emerging risk to enter the board room that is here to stay? Staff shortages.

That’s right – you read this correctly. The top emerging risk facing organizations isn’t responding to cybersecurity threats, or addressing GDPR – it’s the talent gap.

The Talent Gap Is the New Top Risk   

According to Gartner, Inc.’s latest Emerging Risks Survey, global talent shortages now top the charts as the greatest emerging risk facing organizations today after surveying  137 senior executives in the fourth quarter of 2018.

Many leaders find themselves at a crossroad where they need to shift away from traditional external hiring strategies, and consider internal training efforts to mitigate supply and demand issues.

Apprenticeship Programs Offer a Risk Mitigation Strategy   

In Gartner’s press release about the survey, Matt Shinkman, Managing Vice President and Risk Practice Leader, stated that “a common denominator here is that addressing these top business challenges involves hiring new talent that is in incredibly short supply.”

But, what if you had the ability to train and retain your own ideal workforce?

Apprenticeship programs offer an alternative solution to the growing talent crisis. Apprentices can create a high-value alternative for employers to:

  • Attract the best employees
  • Reduce turnover
  • Decrease training costs
  • Increase productivity
  • Ensure availability of skilled professionals
  • Improve community and employee relations

Partnering to Reduce Risk and Build Your Talent Pipeline

The talent gap is a national crisis that threatens America’s competitive edge. Franklin Apprenticeships is a consulting firm that partners with businesses and economic and workforce development agencies to offer custom learning programs that solve workforce supply issues.

Founded by professionals in the U.S. and U.K., the Franklin Apprenticeships team is passionate about applying the timeless practice of apprenticeships to create new training and retention solutions for employers.

For instance, Franklin Apprenticeships is currently working with the State of Missouri, the State of Maryland, and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania on new apprenticeship programs to close the IT talent gap for employers – Missouri Digital and Franklin Digital. Missouri has also released AutoMOtive!, a program focused on developing Automotive Service Technician talent. 

With each program, the States offer tax benefits or subsidies to lighten the costs of training and services so employers can focus on growth without the worry of recruitment, training, and program development costs – a win-win situation for all involved.

Discover how our apprenticeships can benefit your organization by visiting each program’s dedicated web page: AutoMOtive!, Franklin Digital, and Missouri Digital.

Build vs. Buy: Solving the Cyber Talent Shortage, Today

Build vs. Buy: Solving the Cyber Talent Shortage, Today

Cybersecurity Ventures says the worldwide deficit of qualified cybersecurity professionals will reach 3.5 million by 2021. Yet,  CSO’s Top 5 cybersecurity facts, figures and statistics for 2018 paint a more dire picture:

Since every IT position is responsible for protecting and defending data, apps, devices, infrastructure, and people – every IT position is also, to a degree, a cybersecurity position.

 That explains why the cybersecurity unemployment rate today has dropped to zero percent.  The actual workforce shortage represents an even greater supply and demand dilemma.

How are employers coping with this critical cyber skills shortage?  The ability to attract and retain the best and brightest is a constant, costly battle. Recruitment teams are poaching talent by sweetening salary and benefit packages. But, increasing employment costs is not a sustainable solution. Especially for companies who are losing talent to larger competitors.  And, as the talent pool continues to decline, the ability to dip in and not come up empty will become more difficult.  No matter how much money you throw at it.

So, one may question: What about new talent in the pipeline?  The next generation of cyber talent is almost ready to enter the workplace. Shouldn’t the numbers improve? The answer is: Not likely.  We are facing a shortage of skilled labor PLUS a shortage of skilled educators.  Most current education, training, and certification programs are not producing qualified, job-ready candidates.  Given the growing number and sophistication of attacks, this comes as no surprise. Cyber education requires a deep, hands-on, in the trenches approach to learning to produce qualified cybersecurity professionals.

The cyber industry needs a new recruitment, education, and training strategy. A strategy that can keep pace with the industry’s complex skill requirements.  A strategy that can also attract more talent to the field and supply qualified cybersecurity professionals.

Apprenticeships – A Perfect Solution

Apprenticeships offer a perfect solution.  In the UK, standards for cyber apprenticeship programs are opening possibilities. The programs broaden entry-level routes into the profession and develop new career pathways. This opens the door to a new genre of talent – individuals who may not have considered cyber as an option.  It also opens the talent pool for employers.  And, it moves individuals- even those with low or no skills – up to full competency in 12-18 months.

The move in the US towards modern apprenticeship programs is behind other countries.  But, initiatives have been underway in both the former and current Administration.  Fortunately, apprenticeship programs have managed to maintain ongoing bipartisan support. Last year, President Trump issued an Executive Order for “Expanding Apprenticeships in America.” A special Task  Force on Apprenticeship expansion filed their final recommendations. Cybersecurity, of course, was a sector covered in the Task Force report.

A 21st-century apprenticeship approach aligns cyber workforce training and education with employer requirements.  It rejuvenates training and recruitment methods. It builds teams of dedicated employees mentored to succeed (among other things).  The task force report recommendations offer inspiration and hope for change.  But, change takes time.

Do US employers have the luxury of time to wait for our government or educational systems to catch up? US employers who focus today on tomorrow’s workforce can begin to build it, rather than continuing to buy it. After all, the law of supply and demand is not working out in anyone’s favor as it relates to qualified cybersecurity professionals.

“Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today.”

 ― Benjamin Franklin

Interested in learning more about our digital apprenticeship programs, or becoming a partner? Contact us.


Cybersecurity Talent Shortage – A Solution for Financial Services and Insurance

Cybersecurity Talent Shortage – A Solution for Financial Services and Insurance

This US industry is prime for a cybersecurity apprenticeship movement!

Cybersecurity, one of the fastest growing job skills of the new economy, is also one that holds the fastest growing skills gap. For the financial services and insurance industry –the largest spenders and consumers of cybersecurity technology next to government – the cybersecurity talent shortage threat is significant.

The latest report from CyberSeek shows an estimated 285,681 job openings today. Every year, 40,000 information security jobs remain unfulfilled in the US. US employers also report a current deficit of over 200,000 “other security-related” roles.

The numbers get even more alarming. By 2021, Cybersecurity Jobs Report forecasts that the worldwide deficit of qualified cybersecurity professionals will reach 3.5 million. The cybersecurity talent shortage threat is significant globally.

What are the reactions from Financial Services and Insurance leaders? A recent McAfee report, Hacking the Skills Shortage: A focus on the cybersecurity skills shortage in Financial Services and Insurance reveal:

  • 82% of respondents report a shortage of cybersecurity skills
  • 71% of respondents attest that cybersecurity shortages leave companies vulnerable to hacking targets, reputation, and data loss
  • 53% of respondents say the cybersecurity skills shortage is their worst IT talent deficit
  • 50% of respondents believe a bachelor’ degree is required for field entry, even though few universities and colleges have cybersecurity concentrations
  • 76% of respondents feel government is not sufficiently investing in helping to develop cybersecurity talent

Why should US Financial Services and Insurance companies be primed for a cybersecurity apprenticeship movement?

  • Education and training investments are not optimized to suit how cybersecurity skills are best learned and applied. Apprenticeship programs create hands-on, multi dimensional learning environments.
  • Cybercrime is an evolving industry that grows in scale and sophistication. Traditional academic curriculum can’t prepare for what may have happened last week, nor predict what might happen next month. Apprenticeship programs create a learning culture that is real-time.
  • Competition for and scarcity of skilled labor causes wages to rise, and loyalties to shrink- especially in this industry.  Apprenticeships programs offer pathways to growth that balance skill development with increased earning potential. These standards increase retention and inspire loyalty.

Still, US apprenticeship programs remain scarce – despite proven results of program effectiveness in other countries. 21st century US apprenticeship programs in new skill areas (such as those relating to IT and cyber) are theoretically endorsed, politically supported, and conceptually embraced. Yet, overall US employer adoption is slow to take hold.

Build it, and they will come.  Companies need to collectively commit to advancing an apprenticeship movement.  As an industry at peak risk for cyber crime, US financial services and insurance companies should challenge their traditional recruitment and education paradigms.  Apprenticeships, as a strategic focus, can help to solve our nation’s growing cybersecurity talent shortage. And that, my FSI friends, results in a win/win for all concerned.

Recent Report Validates Room for US Apprenticeship Expansion

Recent Report Validates Room for US Apprenticeship Expansion

Can Market Facts Change Market Perceptions?

A recently released report from Harvard Business School and Burning Glass Technologies validates the fact that there is opportunity to expand US apprenticeships into new fields of occupations.   Room to Grow, Identifying New Frontiers for Apprenticeships analyzed the Burning Glass job postings data and discovered:

Ø  The number of occupations using apprenticeships could be expanded from 27 to 74;

Ø  The number of job openings filled by apprentices could grow from 410,000 to roughly 3.3 million;

Ø  Many of these new fields pay more than current apprenticeship occupations, with up to a $20,000 salary premium; and,

Ø  Many of these occupations are difficult for employers to fill using current channels.

All of this data comes on the coattails of the Trump Administration’s goal to create 5 million new apprenticeships in the next 5 years.  To meet the 5 year growth objective, the current number of active apprenticeships – 505,371 in the last quarter of 2016 – will need to increase almost tenfold.

The report analyzed the largest concentration of US apprenticeships today (Core Apprenticeship Occupations), and identified two additional groups of occupations (Expanders and Boosters) that fit the apprenticeship model as logical candidates for program expansion.

Clearly, there is significant growth potential in the US apprenticeship system.  Expansion means greater career options for individuals to gain employment, and greater recruitment and training alternatives for employers to develop skills, retain talent, and remain competitive. As such, the challenge for the US to reach its goal should just be a common sense win?  Right?

Unfortunately, it is not that simple.

Many employers lack the willingness to change their current systems; and many parents and young adults lack the awareness to change their current beliefs.   American’s maintain a jaded perception of apprenticeships – one that is outdated and devoid of fact.

Employers: Perception vs. Fact

Perception:  Apprenticeships are expensive.

Fact: In countries where apprenticeship programs are more widespread, apprenticeships have reduced hiring costs by providing a streamlined channel of new talent, have reduced attrition by building a common loyalty between company and employee, have reduced business losses by filling vacancies with skilled labor, and have increased productivity.  In the UK, for instance, 72 percent of businesses report improved productivity as a result of employing an apprentice.

Perception: Apprenticeships are not suited for degree positions.

Fact: According to the study, employers are trapped in “degree inflation.” Many positions that “prefer” or “require” a bachelor degree involve skills that can be accomplished by non-degree workers. While performance metrics cite equal achievement from both degree and non-degree workers, degree workers are shown to have higher salary expectation, higher turnover, and less job satisfaction.  

Apprentice programs scale salaries as skill completion is satisfied, and are known for high retention and job satisfaction.

Perception: A degree candidate will have better soft skills.

Fact:  Payscale surveyed hiring managers and asked them to weigh in on the critical soft skills gaps found in their recent grad talent pool.  Those cited as the top deficiencies include: critical thinking, problem solving, attention to detail, and writing proficiency.

Apprenticeship programs foster and develop soft skills as a primary course of study. Soft skills, by nature, are situational and best learned in the field, as opposed to the classroom.

Parents and Young Adults: Perception vs. Fact

Perception: Apprenticeships are mostly lower income, trade positions.

Fact:  The study indicated opportunities beyond Core Apprenticeship Occupations for apprenticeship programs in the Expanders (+21) and Boosters (+26) categories, with the Boosters category as the most compelling avenue for middle-class earnings.  Apprenticeships also provide fertile ground for the newly emerging jobs of the 21st century. My post Congressional Bill Announcement: The CHANCE in Tech Act outlines the initiatives underway to help solve the IT skills shortage that we face as a nation.  IT jobs, as example, are known to be high-income level entry opportunities in areas of emerging growth.   

Perception: Apprenticeships are a second rate alternative to the gold standard of a 4 year degree.

Fact: The 4 year degree is no longer the gold standard of education.  Much of today’s college curriculum does not cover areas of study that are required in the emerging job market, and often includes areas of study that are not relevant to career outcomes.

Apprenticeships provide occupational and employer-specific education suited to match the skills employers need to grow and remain competitive.  Apprentices, as they work through a development plan, can also develop a wider variety of skills that can lead to a more fulfilling, successful career.

Perception:  Investment in a college degree will pay off.

Fact: Unfortunately  Accenture Strategy 2016 U.S. College Graduate Employment Study shows underemployment for recent grads is the current reality: 51% of 2014/2015 graduates report working in jobs that do not require their college degree, a steady increase of 10% since 2013. While those numbers keep climbing, so does the average student loan debt. Edvisors reports an average of $35,051— the highest in history.

Apprentices earn while they learn. An apprenticeship also provides a pathway into a career with higher earnings, without the need to incur gobs of debt.  The ability to work with mentors and focus specifically on the job at hand leads to faster advancement into positions with even higher wages.

Yes, there is room for expansion of US apprenticeships. I have only touched on a sampling of the flawed perceptions in the market, today.

Until we can replace outdated perceptions and continue to educate the market with current facts, the American Apprenticeship Movement will remain a challenge.  Thank you, Harvard Business School and Burning Glass Technologies, for taking on this study to help tackle that challenge!


Who Will Take Care of Mom and Dad?

Who Will Take Care of Mom and Dad?

Addressing America’s Growing Home Health Aide Crisis

Home Health Aides – a member of the Direct Care Workers category alongside Nursing Assistants (usually known as Certified Nursing Assistants or CNAs), and Personal Care Aides – is one of the lowest paying fields in not only healthcare, but also in the economy. In 2016, the Bureau of Labor and Statistics reported a median annual wage of $22,600 – which is lower than the median annual wage for all occupations in the economy.

When considering the need for home health aides is projected to grow 38 percent from 2014 to 2024 (a rate much faster than the average for all occupations), and the growing population of elderly — one has to step back and ask the question: Who will take care of Mom and Dad?

According to a United States Census Bureau Report, “An Aging World: 2015”, America’s 65-and-older population is currently 48 million, and it is expected to reach 88 million by 2050. So, if you are now awakening to the awareness that one day – in the not too distant future – you shall be classified as “aging”, the question comes even closer to home. Who will take care of me?

How can we attract, retain, and train quality workers to address this growing American crisis? Home health care is an emotionally and physically demanding job. It is a low income ($10.87/hr. is the reported average), high stress (lifting people in and out of bed, helping them to toilet, shower, eat, stay active, and often dealing with challenging behaviors), and sometimes, thankless job. It is not surprising that the average turnover/ burn out rate is 40-60%.

For those who remain committed to the occupation, many still need government subsidies such as low-income housing, food stamps, and Medicaid. About a third receive food stamps, and 28 percent rely on Medicaid for health insurance. In short, there are not a lot of perks provided to the caregivers tending to our loved ones.

What do we hear from agencies that struggle to meet supply and demand? One issue is that they have difficulty getting people through 90-day training programs without taking a loss. The cost to put workers through training is often not returned before the worker leaves.

How can apprenticeship programs help? Apprenticeships offer the agency – and the worker – a structured screening, training, and mentoring program. They can also work to establish upward training so that, even if an individual enters the occupation at the entry level, there is opportunity for advancement through ongoing career planning, and education. That not only makes the career more attractive, but it also creates a waterfall effect to help deal with other direct care worker shortages, such as RNs, social workers, and LPNs.

If you have had to go through the headaches of finding a home health aide for a parent, this common sense approach may seem too simple to be true—especially given the dire state of worker shortages.

But, who do you want to take care of Mom and Dad during their last golden days? Someone who feels happy, hopeful, and rewarded with their own career potential, or someone who has to struggle to maintain their own quality of life?

If you have had the opportunity to watch apprenticeship programs unfold, you would agree that age-old, common sense approaches to skilled labor development is one solution. And this is one solution that just may contribute to creating a better future for us all.

The Role of Trade Unions in the US Apprenticeship Arena

The Role of Trade Unions in the US Apprenticeship Arena

An Interview with Dr. John Gaal, Director of Training & Workforce Development, STL-KC Carpenters Regional Council

You run apprenticeship programs in the states. What is the role of trade unions in delivering high quality programs?

I have served as the Director of Training & Workforce Development for the St. Louis-Kansas City Carpenters Regional Council since 2003. As such, I superintend nine training schools in three Midwest states: MO, KS, and IL. These locations serve >15 post-secondary registered apprenticeship programs (RAPs) mainly covering carpentry, cabinetmaking, millwright, and floor laying occupations.

Trade unions in the US play a vital role in some of the most effective and efficient RAPs overseen by the United States Department of Labor’s (US-DOL) Office of Apprenticeship (OA). To be clear, these RAPs are not union-run programs! Back in 1947, Congress (Taft-Hartley Act) changed national labor laws to ensure that both labor and management had an equal voice at the board table. Although the Fitzgerald Act of 1937 serves as the basis for RAPs today, known as 29CFR29, joint apprenticeship programs (JAPs) are usually set up as trust funds under the aforementioned change in 1947. This is a key factor as to why these JAPs’ committees produce the best results when it comes to graduation rates and total compensation. Why? Because the JAP committee—made up of both labor and management representatives—is obliged to make decisions in the best interest of the industry on behalf of the apprentice!

Unions also play another important role. It is by means of a legal contract that both labor and management agree to terms and conditions of an hourly contribution for training purposes. The contract, in effect, becomes the collection vehicle for the employee/member benefit—known as training—which is administered by the trust fund mentioned above. More often than not, in the US construction industry, apprentices are indentured to the JAP…not a single contractor. This multi-employer model allows apprentices to work for any signatory contractor which, in turn, provides for a wide range of OJT learning opportunities. Therefore, when it comes to JAPs, the notion of “poaching” is virtually non-existent! (In the St. Louis area alone, more than $30m is “privately” invested annually into the +15 JAPs.) While, on the other hand, typically in the non-union arena, poaching remains a big issue as well as the quality of training most likely due to a lack of a trusted intermediary and willing partners (competitors). 

What do you think of the claim made by some that the trade unions can sometimes block progress?  

As with most any organization or issue, there are often good and bad characters impacting outcomes. In the US, nearly 70% of the registered apprentices are in the construction industry—of which, approximately 80% of those are in joint labor-management affiliated JAPs, as noted above. It is unfortunate that when so many people in the US hear the word “apprenticeship”, one of two things comes to mind: unions or construction. Growing RAPs in the US will require the US mindset to move beyond those paradigms…it does not have to be either! Nonetheless, construction-related union-affiliated JAPs are often held up as the model for RAPs in the US. In St. Louis alone, the Carpenters JAP provides nearly 150 career days, etc. annually at regional K-12 schools and other community gatherings. Due to global competition, most unions realize that in order to survive they need to grow their programs and expand their intake processes. This includes becoming more inclusive with regards to recruiting and retaining people of color, women ex-offenders, veterans, and people with disabilities. Nearly all these unions have recognized that their jointly trusted JAPs are their competitive advantage going forward and need to leverage it accordingly!

Interestingly, the JAPs receive very little to no federal funding to operate their JAPs. (In the interest of full disclosure, less than 5% of the Carpenters JAP’s budget in St. Louis is made up by the federal government.) Yet, companies looking to expand into the RAP ranks are being enticed by seed money from federal grants. Eventually, these funds will run out! Hopefully, US-DOL’s OA has a plan in place to ensure sustainability of these new RAPs. As a union representative and a trustee of the St. Louis JAP, I am concerned about this most important issue…some may view this as “blocking” progress. I prefer to consider it as being a good steward of the taxpayers’ funds. 

Do you have any advice for companies thinking of expanding their business in the USA? 

Without a doubt, I am a huge fan of the Apprenticeship 2000 (A2000) model in Charlotte, NC. Other than in the US constructions trades’ JAPs, the European influence of apprenticeship has been around since the mid-1990s. As noted above, intermediaries are integral to the growth of RAPs in the US. The difficult piece will be the time spent developing better relationships within non-traditional and emerging industries. For without trust, the JAP (or intermediary) model will not be sustainable. In my opinion, it is in the best interest of all industry stakeholders (i.e., companies, workers, training & education providers, and communities) to examine the pros and cons of a program like A2000. Upon investigation, they will find that German and Austrian advanced manufacturing firms operating in the US set aside their competitive differences in order to pool their talents and address the skills shortage issues in their area.

With that said, I think the best place to begin these discussions is within the K-12 school system. Far too often, in the US, the growth of RAPs is only viewed from the horizontal approach (i.e., expanding into other sectors like Health Care, etc.). In order to double the number of apprentices by 2019 this myopic approach simply will not work. We must embrace the concept of vertical growth as well! To this end, students in the upper-secondary grades are a ripe and captive audience for firms and industries as evidenced by the A2000 model…especially in light of the college debt crisis that looms in the US economy.

Finally, do you have any goal you’d like to achieve by the end of 2017?                   

I have a few goals I am working on concurrently:

  1. Linking the RAPs with college/university pathways: Parents play a big role in steering their children towards post-secondary options. For the past +35 years too many US parents have embedded the notion that a college degree is the ticket to the middle class. This myth was dispelled after the 2007 Great Recession began. The idea of graduating apprentices four years after high school who earn +$35/hour and hold a college degree will surely connect with parents.
  2. Furthermore, by coupling the US-DOL Journey-worker certificate with a college degree, the system adds value to the graduate’s future by providing options beyond one’s trade/industry.

Case Study Interview Part 2: Franklin Apprenticeships: Microsoft UK Tackles Its Skilled Labor Shortages with Apprenticeships

Case Study Interview Part 2: Franklin Apprenticeships: Microsoft UK Tackles Its Skilled Labor Shortages with Apprenticeships

What are the Opportunities for the US to Follow Suit?


Microsoft UK


A shortage of skilled talent for Microsoft’s Partner Channel Network


Attract, mentor, and retain aspiring young IT professionals to build critical career skills through real-life, applied knowledge workforce training programs as apprentices.


  • Over 7,500 apprentices started their career through this route in over 5,000 employers since the program was rolled out nationally in 2010.
  • Current hits are > 3,500 apprentice starts per year
  • 92% of apprentices stay with the company with which they started their apprenticeship


Microsoft UK’s goal is for the program to become the established, alternative route to university for young people entering a career in IT working with Microsoft technologies.

In Part 1 of our interview, we spoke with Dominic Gill, co-founder of Franklin Apprenticeships, about his work with Microsoft UK’s apprenticeship program, which helped solve the skilled labor shortage for their channel partners.

In Part 2 of the interview, we will discuss with Kim Nichols, CEO of Franklin Apprenticeships, the state of affairs in the US What does the success of programs –  such as Microsoft UK’s – represent to the long-standing ambition for increased apprenticeship program adoption in America?


JA Communications: Kim, can you give us some insight into the current state of affairs here in the US? What opportunities exist to offer programs like this to our young adults?

Kim: Sure. The skills shortage problem is virtually the same in the US as it is in the UK – especially in the tech industry. And delivering apprenticeship programs is a way we can expand that talent pool and begin to fill the open jobs. The US has a significant skills gap when it comes to filling IT jobs. Experts estimate that there will be 1.8 million unfilled positions in 2022. The main reason these positions go unfilled is simply that candidates lack the technical skills, experience, and soft skills that employers are looking for.

So, this means that employers need to get creative about how to attract future professionals and the Millennial generation. To break this down a bit further, there are currently over 600,000 open computing jobs across the country, but only 43,000 computer science students graduated last year. By 2018, 51% of all STEM jobs are projected to be in computer science-related fields.

The Federal government alone needs an additional 10,000 IT and cyber security professionals. And the private sector needs many more. In this world of constant tech innovation, there are jobs emerging that didn’t even exist a decade ago – roles such as a data scientist, for example.

JA Communications: Those are significant, almost alarming, numbers.

Yes, and they are growing, rapidly. We have to keep up with our ever-changing, digitally-driven workplace. And apprenticeship programs provide the flexibility to bring the most relevant curriculum to young adults with the right attitude, aptitude, and intelligence to be successful, as Dom mentioned earlier.

And every industry needs IT apprenticeship opportunities. Not only technology companies, but also healthcare, finance, retail, manufacturing, and professional services – to address the IT skills gap and build a pipeline of skilled workers. Here in the US, we need to better prepare our young people for IT careers and provide clear pathways for them to learn the industry specific IT skills they need to be successful.

JA Communications: As you and Dom mentioned, the UK is clearly ahead of the US at this point. How much awareness is there about the benefit of these programs here in the US? And what steps can employers take to start their own registered apprenticeship programs?

Kim: Interest in apprenticeship models is gradually building in the United States, partly because of the recent successes in the UK, but also due to some initiatives here in the US – particularly in South Carolina – in stimulating major expansions of apprenticeship training. A robust apprenticeship system is especially attractive because of its potential to reduce youth unemployment, improve the transition from school to career, upgrade skills, raise wages for young adults, increase the US productivity, and achieve positive returns for both employers and workers.

At Franklin, we’ve been talking with many employers across the country about apprenticeship programs as a solution to their workforce issues. We have repeatedly heard employers express their difficulties finding people with the right skills to meet their needs. The number of days job vacancies are remaining open is increasing, which is costing companies a significant amount of money each day in lost profits.

Many employers also have an aging workforce that will need to be replaced in the next five to ten years. Yet, they don’t have an adequately skilled pipeline of workers ready to take over those jobs. On top of that, the impact of emerging technologies is quickly outpacing expertise.

JA Communications: One would assume that companies are well aware of this issue, and are putting plans in place to address these challenges.  So, why aren’t there more programs such as Microsoft’s here in the US?

Most employers recognize the importance of recruiting and developing talent, but still depend on outdated approaches for finding people, developing existing employees’ skills, and improving their performances. So employers agree that apprenticeships can be a solution to their workforce development issues,

But working to identify the competencies and training paths required to get the desired outcomes usually falls under the domain of HR and corporate training departments –  departments that are often saddled with budget and resource constraints.

Overall, we find that most companies are overwhelmed by the process of developing and implementing a registered apprenticeship program. However, it doesn’t have to be so difficult.  It’s really about solving a business issue, (like the approach Microsoft took) and understanding the skills the employers need for entry-level positions. Once competencies and outcomes are identified by the employer, a training provider intermediary builds out the program, delivers the training, assesses the apprentices, manages the regulatory requirements, and recruits apprentice candidates.

Training provider intermediaries can be either community colleges or private training providers. The majority of employers are looking to training providers who can offer turnkey apprenticeship solutions that take the pain away from delivering and administering the programs, while making sure they meet the desired outcomes. So, employers work very closely with the training providers to deliver a successful apprenticeship program.

JA Communications: That’s very interesting. Obviously, there’s a little bit of a process to put something like this together. Can you talk a little bit about what a typical program looks like?

Kim: Sure. A typical apprenticeship program includes the employer (of course), the training provider, and the apprentices. These are the three prongs. The actual apprenticeship program includes an individual learning plan with milestones for each apprentice. It includes a training plan that is competency-based. It includes an engagement and recruitment plan that’s used to attract and engage apprentices. And it also includes a marketing and communications strategy with a solid social media and public relations focus to help increase the awareness of apprenticeship opportunities. Within the apprenticeship program, training is also provided for the employer staff that works to support the apprentice, the various mentors that are used in the program, as well as the success coaches.

JA Communications: What can we learn from the UK success, and how can it be applied into the US markets?

Franklin Apprenticeships has been leveraging the lessons learned from the UK by accessing program content that has been developed and modified for US companies. We are also utilizing processes and procedures regarding the execution. This helps employers and training providers execute, fast-track, and scale apprenticeship programs throughout US. Using the expertise of these UK professionals streamlines the program development and execution for employers in the US. So, it’s a great way to fast-track these programs, develop further data to benchmark and monitor program standards, and build out more competencies, as needed. It is an exciting time, and the opportunity is tremendous.  We’re right at the tipping point that will rejuvenate the age-old practice of apprenticeships – one that helped to build the American dream.  In simple terms: It is an incredibly practical approach.

JA Communications: Well, the Microsoft model looks to have a lot of promise for us in the US. I want to thank you, Kim, and Dom, for joining us today. It sounds like there are a lot of opportunities for employers and employees on both sides of the pond to benefit as these programs continue to take hold.


To learn more about the Microsoft partner apprenticeship program in the UK and learn more about Franklin Apprenticeships and current US initiatives,  contact Dom or Kim.

Case Study Interview Part 1: Franklin Apprenticeships: Microsoft UK Tackles Its Skilled Labor Shortages with Apprenticeships

Case Study Interview Part 1: Franklin Apprenticeships: Microsoft UK Tackles Its Skilled Labor Shortages with Apprenticeships

Franklin Apprenticeships co-founder Dominic Gill has developed some of the world’s most successful skills management training programs for  the biggest technology companies around the globe. And the main ingredient in his secret sauce: Apprenticeships.

Here, Dominic discusses his work with Microsoft UK as they embarked on a journey to solve skilled labor shortages, specifically in its network of supply-chain partners delivering Information and Communication Technology (ICT) services.


Microsoft UK


A shortage of skilled talent for Microsoft’s Partner Channel Network


Attract, mentor, and retain aspiring young IT professionals to build critical career skills through real-life, applied knowledge workforce training programs as apprentices.


  • Over 7,500 apprentices started their career through this route in over 5,000 employers since the program was rolled out nationally in 2010.
  • Current hits are > 3,500 apprentice starts per year
  • 92% of apprentices stay with the company with which they started their apprenticeship


Microsoft UK’s goal is for the program to become the established, alternative route to university for young people entering a career in IT working with Microsoft technologies.


JA Communications: I have certainly heard about apprenticeship programs. But when I think of apprenticeships, what comes to mind is more along the lines of trade unions, as opposed to IT programs such as this. Wasn’t it rare to see a company like Microsoft take this route?

Dom: I think the first thing that’s worth pointing out is this: Apprenticeships in the UK are more established, especially in more nontraditional routes than they are in the US.  Apprenticeships have been around in their current format since the former Prime Minister Tony Blair era. In the UK, we have a pedigree in looking at nontraditional apprenticeships.

However, I would say in the IT sector, they were not necessarily a recognized route. The reason that Microsoft got involved was primarily to solve a talent acquisition issue in its partner channel.

JA Communications:  What made them decide to begin with the partner network?
Dom: Microsoft has both in the US and the UK – and across the globe – channel partners that work to support, develop on or resell its technology. In the UK, that equates to in the region of 25,000 partners.

In order for these partners to grow and, indeed, for them to grow the Microsoft activity they share, Microsoft understood that it was critical for their partners to have access to talent with the right skill set. But, they were finding that there weren’t sufficient numbers of new talent coming into the sector and, as a result, there was a smaller pond to fish in — especially in new areas such as cloud technology and cyber security. That smaller pond also resulted in salary inflation, which resulted in losing talent to competitive rivals. If Microsoft couldn’t help its partners bring new people into the sector, their competitive advantage would be negatively impacted.

So, first and foremost, we addressed these problems as a business issue in the partner channel. We focused on identifying key common roles that went across the channel that could be, if you like, apprenticeable.  Our objective was to bring new people in at the technician level – potentially straight from school. We would provide them the necessary learning they needed to become competent, and to perform the role that was required of them; but to do that in a structured way. So, that’s essentially the program that we built. And it’s been an incredibly successful program, today.

On the other side of it, of course, this has been a great way to attract new people into the IT sector. It gives young people a fantastic opportunity – young people who might have otherwise been overlooked. Maybe academic learning didn’t suit them at that time in their lives. That’s not to say they weren’t graduate caliber. But, for various reasons, it wasn’t an option for them. What we did was provide them the most fantastic opportunity to get a job from the start, to earn while they learn, and to develop a career. In fact, 93% of the people who start these programs are continuing in employment with the same employer.

JA Communications: Well, I have to tell you, that sounds like an obvious solution. Employers need skilled workers. Young people want a good path to a good job without incurring lots of debt. Tell me a little bit how the program works. Is it pretty similar to setting up and recruiting for internship programs?

Dom: Actually, that’s a really interesting point. I’d say that the mechanics are similar to setting up an internship, but, I think the practicalities are different. And I think there’s one major conceptual difference in that an apprenticeship should be seen as a permanent talent acquisition strategy – so, a permanent talent acquisition solution. That’s not necessarily the case of an internship.

I think when employers are recruiting for apprenticeships, they need to consider whether candidates have the innate strength to go through an apprenticeship program. One important question employers should ask: If they follow the structured training, support, and assessment that is included within the program, will the candidate have a long-term future with our business? And if the answer is yes, then they’re definitely ideal candidates. I would also argue that they shouldn’t expect these individuals to have bags of experience – because they won’t. That’s what the apprenticeship is there for. They need to identify candidates who’ve got that innate strength.

So, I would say that’s a bit different than an internship where you are expecting somebody who’s probably completed a year or so at university, already. Somebody who has some skills, and the internship is a way in which they’re going to build on those skills, and augment them.  And from the company’s perspective, an internship isn’t necessarily a permanent talent acquisition solution, whereas an apprenticeship is.

JA Communications:  Once you finish vetting the candidates, what’s next? You mentioned that most of the new apprenticeships are coming in with little to no formal skills training or experience.  It sounds fairly simple, but how did Microsoft determine the credential pathways for the apprentices, create scalable models, and then ensure the programs were the right ones?

How this program works is pretty simple. Microsoft itself has, to date, only taken on a very small handful. I’m talking only about 20 apprentices per year. We’re currently at a run rate of 4,500 apprentices per year through the partner channel. So, we’ve worked to brand these programs. What would be the common roles that sit across Microsoft’s partners? What roles would be in demand and, consequently, what would then be the common and core Microsoft credential pathways to fit the roles?

We then work with focus groups of relevant Microsoft Partners to align the roles to the certifications.  This not only gives the apprentices globally recognized industry credentials but ensures they acquire a skillset that will enable them to be productive more quickly for the employers who are investing in them – essentially providing an significant ROI for employers!  We then work with a select group of Microsoft Learning Partners to interpret these specs into deliverable programs and support them in rolling the programs out into the Channel.

JA Communications: Wow. You’re giving companies the opportunity to build farm teams – just like in the baseball minor leagues – where they can pull young people trained directly under the tutelage of the organization, so that they really are prepared to step into a job. Have the results so far been positive? Can you expand a little bit on some of the future goals?

Dom: Yeah. Definitely. I’ll just quickly point out that the way that these programs are delivered are through a group of intermediary training providers. We equip these providers to deliver the programs, but you’re absolutely right. This is exactly how companies can build their future workforce. I mentioned that we’ve now hit 4,500 apprentices through programs across the UK partners, per year. Microsoft announced, just a few weeks ago, a further ambition – a continued commitment that between now (the start of 2017) and the end of 2020, they’re looking to add 30,000 more apprentices through this route. That means doubling the year-on-year run rate that we have currently. We feel strongly obliged to honor that ambition, and are excited about the possibilities it represents.


To learn more about Microsoft UK’s Apprenticeship program, download the Microsoft Case Study FACT sheet, or contact Dom and Kim, directly.

Next up:  In Part 2 of our interview, Franklin Apprenticeship’s CEO, Kim Nichols, discusses the current state of affairs here in the US: What opportunities exist to offer programs like this for American youth and companies?




Bridging the Gap Between Community College Grads and Employers

Bridging the Gap Between Community College Grads and Employers

Apprenticeship Programs Provide Critical Training And Resources For Both Students And Employers.

Surveys and studies concur: The skills gap between what college grads offer employers and what grads actually need to succeed in their new careers is very real.

The American Association of Community Colleges issued a report in 2012, Reclaiming the American Dream: Community Colleges and the Nation’s Future, citing sobering data about dramatic declines in median family income, educational attainment and economic mobility.

The report warns that “the American Dream is at risk” and recommends sweeping changes in the ways community colleges prepare students for success.

Among the report’s many recommendations for redesigning the student learning experience is to “close the American skills gaps by sharply focusing career and technical education on preparing students with the knowledge and skills required for existing and future jobs in regional and global economies.”

Apprenticeship programs offer community colleges the opportunity to enhance and integrate classroom learning with real-time job training. Successful programs, such as those adopted in the U.K., have increased student success rates, and prepared students with relevant occupational skills. Employers report dramatic economic gains, efficiency improvements, morale boosts, and a host of other company success factors.

But while community college leaders understand the benefits of stimulating major apprenticeship training expansions, that’s only half of the equation. The ability to execute and build a sustainable apprenticeship model on the employer side remains a huge challenge.

Let’s face it. Most employers are not experts at shaping training programs – nor do they want to be. That’s why many have chosen to outsource and take advantage of model apprenticeship programs, so popular in the UK and around the world.

In the UK, training provider intermediaries have played a pivotal role in apprenticeship growth over the past then years. Training provider intermediaries directly support employers by delivering the training, assessing and tracking apprentice progress, managing regulatory requirements and recruiting apprentices. This is the role community colleges can play in the US which will help drive adoption of apprenticeship programs by employers.

Apprenticeships present a great business opportunity for community colleges to grow revenue, increase relevance to employers, and provide a closer connection to the communities they serve. Expanding apprenticeships can mean far more workers are prepared for rewarding careers by ensuring that students have the right skills employers need – and bridging that gap.

As George Boggs, President and CEO Emeritus at AACC, professor of leadership, and higher education consultant, attests: “Partnerships with businesses have the potential to become an institution-transforming catalyst in community colleges.”

Contact Franklin Apprenticeships and learn how your organization can join the U.S. apprenticeship movement that’s sweeping the U.K.

Defining the Need for Expanding Apprenticeship Programs in the U.S. [Infographic]

Defining the Need for Expanding Apprenticeship Programs in the U.S. [Infographic]

By 2020, America is projected to experience a shortfall of about 8 million workers, according to The Center for American Progress. Apprenticeship programs offer a solution for both businesses and potential employees to address this national concern. Download the Infographic below to learn more about the growing need for apprenticeships in the U.S., and the benefits of program creation and implementation for employers, educators, and workforce development agencies.


The U.S. will experience a significant shortage of skilled workers within the next decade. Yet, our economy has a growing need for candidates with technical competencies.

Additionally, a growing number of young adults require access to alternative methods of formal education and training – Millennials are leaving college unprepared for the job market, with surmounting debt, and limited employment opportunities.

How can employers, educators, and workforce development agencies unite to address this national concern?

Apprenticeships offer a realistic, high-value solution to help restore U.S. competitiveness, and create a path to endless possibilities for young adults to succeed in their careers and lives.

As reinforced by the U.S. Department of Labor, apprenticeships are beneficial to workers –candidates who complete programs earn $300,000 more over a lifetime than their peers who do not. Furthermore, apprenticeships create a competitive advantage for businesses as they:

  • Improve productivity and the bottom line
  • Reduce turnover and increase retention
  • Provide opportunities for tax credits and employee tuition benefits in certain states

Apprenticeship programs also create industry-driven, flexible training solutions to develop a highly skilled workforce that meets national and local needs. For example, President Obama has made expanding apprenticeships a priority, investing an unprecedented $175 million in the American Apprenticeship Initiative Grants in 2015. This investment represents the largest infusion of public funds ever invested in American Apprenticeships, with an additional $90 million due for investment in 2016.

The President has also set a goal to double the number of apprentices to 750,000 by 2020 to help address this national concern. But, are you prepared to participate in program expansion, and benefit from an apprenticeship program?

Whether you are an employer looking to design the right program, a workforce development agency trying to build a pipeline of skilled workers, or an educator shaping an apprentice delivery strategy, we’re here to work with you.   Contact Franklin Apprenticeships to learn more about the power of high quality, registered apprenticeship programs.