“You just get started; sit down, write a plan and follow the plan,” he advised.
When devising a plan, determining the retention rate can be beneficial. “If you have a high turnover rate, address that before you start bringing in new employees and training and developing them,” said Ritter.
Make Training a Priority: Bickett said recognition is a huge part of this. One suggestion is to establish a different class of technician; for example, Triple-A Tech or Double-A Tech (AAA Tech and AA Tech). By elevating an employee’s role at the company, Bickett has noticed other workers also strive toward this goal to improve their careers.
Connect With Schools: Reaching out to local schools and working alongside instructors can aid students in working toward a career path. This allows shops to share what skills are needed to be successful so students can focus on those priorities in their coursework.
“I think there are plenty of the next generation who can benefit greatly from the opportunities in our industry,” said Bickett. “I think we have to figure out how to get to them sooner and we have to find a position in the marketplace for the young people.”
Incorporate Mentoring: One of the fundamental aspects of a successful apprenticeship program, according to Luehr, is mentoring. Ritter recommended having mentors share information in “bite-sized” pieces to help trainees retain the information. Also, she said to spend time pairing people who work well together.
Ritter said apprentices who are trained in this way are going to be a shop’s best mentors because that’s how they learned.
“That’s when your culture starts shifting,” she said.
Research Alternative Funding: Funding is often available through workforce development boards and state boards. Ritter said to start building relationships with state and local government officials to find out more about the programs available in your area. Community programs are also a potential source of funding that can be explored.
Collaborate: In order to create positive change, Ritter stressed the importance of collaboration.
“We really need to make sure we are collaborating and working together, lifting each other up and supporting each other,” said Ritter.