last year in the series “Defining Workable Education Models” where we took a close look at the terms of engagement for apprenticeship programs. What many Florida manufacturers do know (or think they know) is that apprenticeship programs can produce many qualified workers that they need in various technical manufacturing and industrial areas. What they might not know is that most apprenticeship programs are primarily run by (or registered to) a company. Detailed information about apprenticeship programs in Florida can be found at the Florida Department of Education website at www.fldoe.org/workforce/apprenticeship.
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Alternative to these very structured apprentice programs, there are many new co-operative (work-study) systems being implemented across the country. They are not true apprenticeship programs. They are innovative co-op programs in two-year programs that are providing consistent, monitored work experience integrated with specially designed academic degree programs. These programs provide many of the advantages of registered apprenticeships with a different mix of academic and technical courses and work experience. The programs typically run cohorts of students, and provide paid part-time and/or full-time work. Students graduate with an associate degree in a technical discipline and will have worked 20-40 hours per week in an industry related position with mentoring at the employer when they graduate. These programs still require significant commitment by the companies. Employers commit to helping design the coursework; providing monitored OJT work experiences; and paying the students for their work during the 2-year program.