Benefit:Expand Employer Base
With the launch of its insurance apprenticeship program in 2016, Harper College in Palatine, Illinois became one of the first community colleges to sponsor a registered apprenticeship program. Harper College has continued to innovate, expanding to four programs and leading community colleges in apprenticeship engagement. The college’s dean of workforce and economic development, points to three strategies that help the college secure strong employer partnerships for these programs.
1. Become a program sponsor. As an apprenticeship sponsor, Harper College handles all the documentation and administrative requirements of the U.S. Department of Labor. Administrative burden is often cited by employers as a major disincentive to starting an apprenticeship program. By shouldering the responsibility for sponsoring and operating the program, Harper makes it much easier for the employer to sign up and focus on its critical role.
2. Hire staff with industry knowledge. The college employs several outreach specialists, some of whom are retired from the manufacturing sector. These specialists provide guidance to employers on the benefits of the apprenticeship model and help them navigate concerns about cost and the potential for credentialed employees to leave for new opportunities.
3. Maximize student success. Ultimately, employers want to support programs that strengthen their workforce. Harper helps companies identify talent by sending them apprenticeship applications from qualified and interested students. The college also features its student support services to employers to show the added value of working with a college partner. Harper screens applicants and supports apprentices from start through hire with a range of services including intensive student counseling. Employers can see the final results: Harper’s apprentices have an average GPA of 3.61, and retention rate of 84 percent in their program.