Due to a nationwide labor shortage, many employers are struggling to fill positions that keep their companies running. Apprenticeships are an incredibly effective tool that Colorado businesses can use to build their own workforce pipeline, helping their organization get qualified employees into their hard-to-fill jobs.
These valuable partnerships combine on-the-job training (provided by the employer) with sponsorship and related classroom instruction (provided by the college). FRCC apprenticeships ensure a smooth transition from education to employment and give students a chance to earn while they learn.
In critical fields like health care, apprenticeships can make a huge difference for people in our local communities. Here at FRCC, apprenticeships also change our students lives—by paying them to get the hands-on training they need to start great careers that allow them to support themselves, their families and our communities.
A Little Background
FRCC started its first apprenticeship program in 2018 in medical assisting—with just two apprentices and a single local healthcare partner. (Read how that first apprenticeship helped student Laura Seitz launch her new career as a medical assistant.) Since then, FRCC has trained 439 apprentices in 11 different occupations in partnership with 36 local employers.
As a college, FRCC’s mission is to enrich lives through learning. Apprentices do just that for our students by providing paid on-the-job learning.
Front Range Community College was the first institution of higher education in Colorado to receive the designation of “Apprenticeship Ambassador” with the US Department of Labor. The ambassador program seeks to create a national network of employers, labor organizations, industry associations, program sponsors, educators, workforce intermediaries, minority-serving organizations, community-based organizations, and other stakeholders to serve as champions for expanding and diversifying registered apprenticeships.
FRCC has strong career and technical education programs that prepare students to enter the workforce in:
- Advanced manufacturing
- Information technology
- And many more
With high demand for a trained workforce in Colorado—and historically low unemployment rates— apprenticeships can meet employer needs by providing a direct pathway with education and employment.
Apprenticeships help shorten the timeframe for employers to be able to hire the workers they need—and these workers (“apprentices”) are paid during their on-the-job training. Many of the employers FRCC works with also pay apprentices during the time they spend in our classrooms.
By providing paid on-the-job learning, apprenticeships allow a more diverse group of candidates to pursue employment in critical fields like health care. (64% of FRCC’s apprentices are first-generation college students. Only 6% of our apprentices have taken out student loans.) And they leave the program with continued employment.
Apprenticeship pathways have tremendous success—93% of our health care apprentices have earned their FRCC certificate or degree. Because they get to do hands-on learning with a mentor at work, which is supported by in-class experience, apprenticeships are more successful than the average technical education program.
Components of an Apprenticeship
- Paid On-the-Job Learning—As an employee, apprentices get one-on-one time with a mentor. Mentors use a set of learning outcomes to guide hands-on learning. Most apprentices work 24-40 hours per week.
- Related Technical Instruction—FRCC provides classroom teaching in a variety of formats:
- In-person instruction
- Online learning
- Weekly real-time connections with instructors
- Credit for prior learning
- Fast-track models that compress a semester or two worth of learning into a much shorter timeframe
Many courses are offered in the evenings, just one day per week, or use fast-track models to allow apprentices to work and attend classes.
- Wage Increases—In registered apprenticeship programs, apprentices receive wage increases as they gain competency at work.
- Registered with Colorado State Apprenticeship Agency and the US Department of Labor—FRCC is the registration sponsor for employers like Kaiser Permanente, UCHealth, Hexagon Machining, and many more.
- Certifications Earned—Apprenticeships result in college credentials. All apprentices who complete the related instruction and hands-on learning earn Certificate of Completion from the US Department of Labor in the occupation they apprentice in. In addition, most students at FRCC earn an FRCC certificate or degree, and an industry recognized credential.
FRCC Student Stories
Check out these profiles of our students who have successfully completed apprenticeships to start rewarding new careers. Their stories are both powerful and inspiring:
- Abner (Surgical Technologist) and Ofelia (Medical Assistant)
- Toni Scruggs (Medical Assistant)
- Quinlyn Sloan (Medical Assistant)
- Zoe Montano (Medical Assistant)
- Earlene Guel (Sterile Processing)
- Ben Reynolds (Pharmacy Technician)
Want to Learn More?
Individuals and organizations are invited to join FRCC to get familiar with the “nuts and bolts” of apprenticeships as a tool to meet workforce needs. To help employers learn from others’ experiences, we’ll share information on how to use apprenticeship models and discuss how to develop these valuable training pathways.
Our sessions will focus on topics like:
- Considerations for sponsorship
- Employing apprentices
- Related classroom instruction
Registered Apprenticeship Programs | A Tool for Solving Workforce Needs
Thursday, September 21, 2023
Sessions: 8:30am – 2:00pm
Networking/Resource Tables: 2-3pm
Front Range Community College
3645 W. 112th Avenue
Rocky Mountain Room (use entrance 2 near the Rotunda)
Apprenticeships at FRCC
Front Range Community College partners with almost 20 local employers to offer registered apprenticeships in high demand healthcare occupations—and the college is expanding offerings in fields like:
- Information technology
- Tree care
If you think apprenticeship might be right for your organization, contact FRCC today!