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A Veteran’s Perspective

Apprenticeship Works for the Military.

By Jose Velazquez.

Apprenticeship works for the military − from the Sailor conducting preventive maintenance on fuel systems, to the Marine working on aircraft armament, and to the Coast Guardsman overhauling electronic equipment, the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard have trained highly skilled and talented workers while on active duty. It works because through the United Services Military Apprenticeship Program (USMAP), members advance their professional military careers while preparing for their eventual transition into a civilian career.

Jose Velazquez is the Deputy Administrator for Operations and Regional Management at the Office of Apprenticeship. He is a retired Master Chief Navy Counselor, and has moderated the military transitioning panel at the National LATINA Symposium.

USMAP is an opportunity for professional and personal growth available to Sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen to earn a certificate of completion from the Department of Labor. This is a national credential recognized by industries across the nation.

Every year more than 11,000 Sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen complete an apprenticeship through USMAP. Research shows 91 percent of those who complete their apprenticeship programs find employment with average wages above $60,000. The return on investment for employers is also impressive – international studies find that for every dollar spent on apprenticeship, employers get an average of $1.47 back in increased productivity and greater frontline innovation.

That is why in 2014, President Obama set a bold goal to double – and diversify – the number of registered apprentices within five years. We at the Department of Labor (DOL) followed up by investing more than $175 million in 2015 to support innovation in expansion in apprenticeship, to expand these earn-while-you-learn opportunities to more people through new industries and new partners across the country.

Then this year, with historic bipartisan support from Congress, the department invested an additional $90 million through its ApprenticeshipUSA initiative in states, industry and equity partners to continue to grow and diversify apprenticeship.

While all this has been happening, DOL and USMAP have completed a review of the program and developed a plan to provide technical assistance. This technical assistance will review the 119 occupations and ensure that they are all cross-walked to direct civilian careers.

Apprenticeship has become more than a proven, affordable post-secondary pathway; it’s a movement that’s now half a million strong and counting. That’s why with a proclamation from the President, the Department of Navy and the Department of Homeland Security, along with employers across industries, unions, community colleges, and state and local leaders hosted more than 600 open houses and other events to commemorate the second annual National Apprenticeship Week this Nov. 14-20. Collectively, these events will tell the unique story of how apprenticeship is working for hundreds of thousands of Americans advancing their careers and growing their businesses in information technology, health care, advanced manufacturing, building trades, transportation, cybersecurity and professional services.

For more on the department’s efforts to expand apprenticeship, visit dol.gov/apprenticeship.

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