Apprenticeships and Veterans: A Paying Combination

Recently, the Bay Area was granted over five million dollars in federal funds to support apprenticeship programs that have been adopted by the Workforce Investment Boards and colleges throughout the region. Apprenticeships are structured to run in three main phases: recruitment, job placement, and education and training.

Often, internship and apprenticeship are used interchangeably; however they do differ from each other in several ways. Internships are shorter in length and are not attached to full-time employment. Apprentices are hired before their training begins and are guaranteed full-time work at the end of the apprenticeship. Internships often provide college credit and/or a small stipend, while an apprenticeship is a fully-paid training that provides hands-on experience.

Apprenticeships do not only benefit apprentices, they also greatly benefit the employer. California’s Department of Industrial Relations reports that for every $1 invested in an apprenticeship, the employer nets $0.40. Another study finds that for every $1 invested in apprenticeships, $23 is returned to taxpayers. Apprentices start out at a lower wage than the position is entitled. This allows companies to leverage the cost of mentorship and additional instruction.  These savings translate to employers spending less money for highly-trained and skilled employees.

While apprenticeships can benefit many different industries, employers wanting to fill highly-skilled positions will see the biggest impact. Two job sectors that can greatly benefit from apprenticeship programs are Advanced Manufacturing and Technology. Advanced Manufacturing has seen a steady growth over the past decade; yet, a great number of employees are reaching retirement age. There are few people trained to step into these positions. Veterans are ideal candidates for this field. They possess the basic skills that these jobs require, and through an apprenticeship program can gain the necessary on-the-job training and certifications to fill these highly-skilled jobs and meet this anticipated employment gap.

In the Bay Area, the technology industry has flourished in the past few years. The creation of veteran apprenticeship programs in Technology would allow veterans to gain the appropriate training and provide a gateway into this exciting field. Technology employers will benefit from apprenticeship programs because they will be able to shape the training and skills that a veteran receives so that it is specific to their company.

Veterans spend their time in the service working with highly-advanced technology. When they separate from the military, they may lack the civilian accreditations, but not the skills, that many other qualified tech employees have. By creating apprenticeship programs in this field veterans will have the opportunity to gain the necessary training and certifications to enter a long-term career in the tech industry in a much faster time frame than the traditional four-year academic route.

Swords to Plowshares’ Employment and Training program has worked with numerous employers throughout the Bay Area on a multitude of hiring projects and is now focusing on working with employers to develop Employer-Driven Curriculum (EDC) trainings, which assist in the start up of the Veteran Apprenticeship Program (VAP).  If you are interested in partnering with Swords to Plowshares to develop an apprenticeship program, please contact our Community Workforce Liaison, Chris Adame, [email protected]


Sheila McCracken

Sheila began as a Job Developer with Swords to Plowshares and now works as the Employment Program Relations Coordinator. With over three years working in employment services, her expertise lies in forging and maintaining employer relations and assisting them in meeting their veteran hiring needs. She manages the social media outlets for Employment and Training and contributes employment-related content to the Swords to Plowshares blog.


Feature image: #ApprenticeshipWorks for Women (Department of Labor blog)