In recognition of National Apprenticeship Week, November 11-17, 2019, JEVS Human Services is publishing a four-part series to explain how the organization is embarking on filling Philly’s skills gap by introducing apprenticeships to employers and job seekers.
By Alex McNeil, Apprenticeship Navigator
While innovation is essential to keeping up in any business, industry leaders in every sector always have their respective “best practices” that they lean on. These are the standard-bearing methods that have stood the test of time, quite simply, because they work. No need to reinvent the wheel, and if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it!
However, ever-evolving business challenges require those same leaders to innovate. Adapting those proven-methods to their current reality to consistently improve their outcomes and stay ahead of the game. One such obligation facing businesses in all sectors is the development and retention of talent in their workforce.
As a multi-faceted human services organization, JEVS engages in a wide variety of activities. However, from the beginning—nearly 80 years ago—we have always focused a great deal of effort on what many refer to as “workforce development” in Philadelphia and surrounding areas. Basically, our business is to connect people to job opportunities and ensure that they’re successful in obtaining and maintaining employment.
An essential part of this is working closely with the business community to remain responsive to their workforce and staffing needs. Throughout our extensive history of building connections with business leaders, we’ve learned a few things about what employers are looking for in potential candidates as well as their challenges in onboarding and retaining staff.
In an effort to address some of these obstacles, JEVS has recently undertaken the work of building talent pipelines to businesses by utilizing a “best-practice” that is literally centuries-old…the apprenticeship model. While this approach is traditionally seen in the building trades, innovative leaders have begun adapting the model to a wide range of occupations and sectors, like health care, information technology, manufacturing, and retail and hospitality, to name a few.
The concept of apprenticeship is pretty simple and remains the same in these “non-traditional sectors”: a new worker is trained on the job by someone with more experience while also receiving technical instruction on the craft they are mastering. As the apprentice demonstrates their newly acquired skills and knowledge, they are rewarded with merit-based pay increases. This approach to onboarding and upskilling allows employers to train new hires to current industry standards and the company culture. Additionally, this investment in employees can increase job satisfaction and loyalty.
Where Does JEVS Fit In?
- As a large, well-established organization with a multitude of programs serving job seekers, JEVS Human Services is uniquely positioned to advance apprenticeships in the Philadelphia region. Over the past several years, we have begun engaging in this work in a variety of ways.
- As an intermediary, JEVS provides technical assistance to businesses while connecting them to talent, training providers, and resources.
- As the operator of an accredited educational institution, Orleans Technical College, we are an instructional provider for trades-based apprenticeships and have been building internal programming, and external partnerships, to deliver training for individuals entering into the information technology field.
- Finally, as one of the largest employers in the region—more than 1,000 staffers strong—we have utilized the model in hiring for a variety of positions throughout our organization.
JEVS Human Services has a long tradition of providing workforce solutions, however it is our sense of innovation that has taken us on this journey. In this series, I will be highlighting the benefits and considerations for implementing the model, simplifying and demystifying the process, and sharing our endeavors with apprenticeships.
To learn more and follow upcoming posts, be sure to visit our Apprenticeships page and follow JEVS on social media.
Alex McNeil is the apprenticeship navigator at JEVS Human Services and has been working collaboratively to develop the infrastructure and resources to help advance apprenticeships in the Philadelphia region. McNeil studied Social Work and Political Science at Temple University and has ten years of experience as an educator and program manager in the workforce development field.