• External Contributor

Tackling the Skills Challenge Through Apprenticeship

Updated: Dec 3, 2020

By: Becky Calwell, EdD, Program Manager, Apprenticeship Works

December 1, 2020


As part of the strategy to address the skills gap in the manufacturing technology industry, apprenticeship programs have increased in number and proven to be effective. But is it right for every business? The Robert C. Byrd Institute’s Apprenticeship Works initiative works with manufacturers to determine if implementing an apprenticeship makes sense for them and, if it is, helps customize, launch, and monitor the program to ensure success.

For details and more about this important work, read the full press release below.



Finding employees with the right skills is a never-ending challenge for American manufacturers. One answer to this problem is an apprenticeship program combining on-the-job experiences with related learning.


With the support of a federal grant, the Apprenticeship Works initiative at the Robert C. Byrd Institute (RCBI) helps manufacturers across the country implement and manage registered apprenticeship programs in 20 high-demand occupations, including industrial maintenance, CNC operations and programming, additive manufacturing, composites, robotics, and others.

These high-skill positions are difficult for most companies to fill from the outside. Apprenticeship programs offer a process for upskilling a company’s existing workforce, in which reliable employees, or new hires – under the guidance of experienced mentors – learn additional skills the company needs to remain competitive.


The Apprenticeship Works team currently works with 30 companies at 51 sites in 18 states. Apprenticeship Works offers manufacturers a full range of services to help them launch programs that fit their needs:

  • Consulting services to develop a customized apprenticeship program

  • Pre- and post-assessment of employees’ knowledge and skills

  • Access to educational materials, offered entirely online

  • Access to a learning management system to track training hours

  • National sponsorship of the apprenticeship program, reducing the administrative load for the employer


The first step for the Apprenticeship Works team is a conversation with company representatives to discover whether an apprenticeship is right for them. The team then works to customize an apprenticeship program to address that company’s operations and work processes.


The Apprenticeship Works team monitors the program, ensuring that the apprentices, their mentors, and others at the company understand how to record and track their progress.

Several companies partnering with Apprenticeship Works started with one occupation and a handful of apprentices and have expanded their programs over time and to sites across several states.


“Our goal is to ensure that manufacturers near and far have the skilled workers they need to grow and prosper in the competitive global economy,” said Lucinda Curry, Director of Apprenticeship Works.


Apprenticeship Works is offering companies the opportunity to enroll new registered apprentices free of charge for their first year, a savings of $1,330 per apprentice. This includes RCBI program management, related online education, and customization and tracking of the on-the-job skills competencies.


Seats are limited and are being offered on a first-come basis until September 30, 2021.

Manufacturers interested in learning more about registered apprenticeship programs are encouraged to contact Curry at lcurry@rcbi.org. More information about Apprenticeship Works is available at www.rcbi.org/online/apprenticeships.


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CELEBRATING 30 YEARS: The Robert C. Byrd Institute (RCBI) delivers expertise and innovative solutions with leading-edge technology to advance manufacturing and entrepreneurship.

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