Case Studies

Gulf Coast Workforce Development Board and Adaptive Construction Solutions Inc.

Organization:Gulf Coast Workforce Development Board and Adaptive Construction Solutions Inc.

Benefit:Develop Local Talent, Diversity, Skilled Workforce

Background

The Gulf Coast Workforce Development Board (referred to as “the Board”), located in Houston is one of 28 Workforce Development Boards in the State of Texas [1]. Like many geographic areas across the U.S., Texas’ Gulf Coast region is dealing with a number of workforce challenges such as an aging workforce, attracting diverse talent, and responding to employment issues due to the COVID-19 public health pandemic, to name a few.

The Board actively embraces the Registered Apprenticeship Program (RAP) model because it promotes immediate employment and many other benefits for employers and career seekers. For employers, the RAP model is proven to lower the cost of recruitment, help create a diverse and highly skilled workforce, improve productivity and profitability, increase worker retention, and minimize liability costs while maximizing safety.  In this earn-and-learn model, career seekers gain workplace-relevant skills in the field of their choice, while avoiding student debt. They also receive an industry-recognized and nationally portable credential that often translates into college credits.

The RAP model consists of two primary components: paid, on-the-job Learning (referred to as OJL) and an academic component that supports the OJL, which is referred to as Related Instruction or RI.  Based on workforce data from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Participant Individual Record Layout (PIRL) electronic record-keeping system, the Gulf Coast Board ranks number one in Texas in terms of WIOA-eligible participants who are also registered apprentices. This means that the Board is supporting one or both components of the RAP. Further, this demonstrates the integration between the RAP model and WIOA program services.

Internal Structure of the Board

The Board has a Talent Development Unit, which is part of their Employer Services Unit. They provide career coaching for every WIOA participant and ongoing case management, which supports apprentices throughout their program and continues for ninety days after completion of the OJL component. The Board’s case management is designed to help support an apprentice as they transition to full-time employment. 

How the Board Works with Employers

The Board works closely with an array of employers, including for example, Adaptive Construction Solutions, Inc. (ACS), a RAP sponsor with main offices in Houston, Texas. The ACS program is a group, non-joint RAP, which means ACS is a non-union program that has agreements with multiple employers to hire individuals as apprentices. ACS provides the RI component of the RAP. The OJL component takes place with employers who are signatory to the ACS RAP; there is a commitment by these employers to hire individuals in full-time roles as apprentices. 

Although ACS began by focusing on the construction trades, they have moved into numerous non-construction occupations as well, including health care and cybersecurity. ACS serves individuals, particularly veterans, with multiple barriers to employment. They conduct outreach to transitioning service members, homeless veterans, veterans participating in treatment courts, disabled veterans, and unemployed and severely underemployed veterans. ACS finds that veterans often prefer work-based learning versus traditional education, therefore making apprenticeship a natural fit. They find there are a lot of parallels between military service and Registered Apprenticeship. In addition, veterans who are registered apprentices can use their GI Bill benefits to support their participation in the program and transition to a new career.

As a RAP sponsor, ACS aims to work with businesses that offer continuous and stable workforce environments.  ACS attracts new employers by communicating the business case for RAPs, as well as the flexibility of program strategies that are offered.[2] They help businesses support individuals with barriers to employment, and develop trust by co-creating a strategy that meets the individual employer’s business objectives. As a RAP sponsor, ACS manages administrative requirements that are part of the program, thereby reducing the paperwork burden on individual employers.

The Ways that WIOA Funding is Applied to RAPs

In addition to RI and OJL support, the Board also provides supportive services that include things like tools and work boots. WIOA support is unique to each local jurisdiction. In the case of the Gulf Coast Workforce Development Board, they help finance the RI component up to a cap of $6,000 per employee. The Board also helps finance the OJL component for an apprentice’s first 640 hours at 75% of the wage rate for positions paying at least $12 per hour (up to a maximum of $10,080 per employee). According to both the Board and ACS, case management and career coaching throughout are paramount and must be delivered consistently to ensure success.

According to Nick Morgan, President of ACS, “Outcomes are a result of all partners effectively collaborating.”  Specifically, the workforce system under the Board’s direction provides referrals, funding for key components, coaching and mentorship, as well as case management and supportive services. ACS conducts outreach and recruitment, delivers or facilitates the RI, and provides continuous mentorship and program administration. Employers who are signatory to ACS’s RAP provide the full-time employment, progressive wage scale, structured OJL, and daily mentorship to ultimately support individuals and create sustainable career pathways. Through this partnership, it’s no wonder that between December 2016 and March 2020, over 600 individuals with barriers to employment have been placed into full-time meaningful employment with long-term career growth.

Promising Practices to Consider

To get started working with your own local Board, you may consider implementing the following best practices:

  • Demonstrate the value of Registered Apprenticeship. To start the relationship off right, consider introducing the Board to some of your existing apprentices and their supervisors.
  • Understand your Board needs flexibility. A Board’s available WIOA resources change throughout the year, and may only be able to support either OJT or RI, but not both.
  • Let your Board be involved.  Boards offer multiple other services including recruitment, coaching, and supportive services that may have a meaningful impact on the success of a program.
  • Consider strategies that assist your Board and help them meet their performance goals. Day one employment and front-loaded instruction promote Credential Attainment and Measurable Skill Gains.
  • Make a difference. To promote economic opportunity and mobility,increase apprenticeship positions for underrepresented populations and individuals with barriers to employment.
  • Stay engaged. Continue to share success stories and contribute to the regional discussion on why apprenticeship works.

For more information on the Gulf Coast Workforce Board, visit www.wrksolutions.com, or please contact Susan Dixon, Manager of Employer Services, at susan.dixon@wrksolutions.net to learn more about apprenticeship integration efforts.

For more information on Adaptive Construction Solutions, visit www.goapprenticeship.com, or please contact Nicholas Morgan, President, at nicholas@acsTexas.com to learn more about apprenticeship integration efforts and working with workforce boards.


[1] Workforce Development Boards are strategic planning bodies that receive WIOA Title I funding allocations from their respective State.  Each Board consists of multiple agency and private sector representatives, with private sector representatives in the majority to ensure local boards are “business-driven.”

[2] Registered Apprenticeship is not a one-size-fits-all approach to talent development.  For instance, the OJL component of a RAP may be time-based, competency-based, or a combination of the two; the RI component may be front-loaded, parallel, or segmented.  The approach is driven by the employer and the occupation.