CWA has set a high bar in California for its efforts to build California’s Workforce System capacity to handle a new generation of job seekers with its challenges, and there is no indication of stopping anytime soon. The Sacramento Employment and Training Agency, the local Workforce Development Board in Sacramento, has been the first to take on a massive capacity building program to train its workforce development professionals in the Country’s first Workforce Development Professional Apprenticeship Program.

Starting in March 2016, the first cohort of apprentices were asked to complete 152 hours of class room instruction and 2080 hours of On-the-job Training (OJT). This cohort of 18 apprentices completed their classroom instruction December 2016, and will be completing their OJT hours May 2017 with a few completed as early as February 2017. Once their OJT hours have been completed, they will be able submit to become the Country’s first Journeyman Workforce Development Professionals. As the program sponsor, CWA is responsible to managing the hours of the apprentices and spreading the word across the country through speaking at the National Association of Workforce Boards (NAWB) and throughout the State of California.

Since the first cohort began, there have been other Local Workforce Development areas interested in implementing the apprenticeship program in their local area. The MCS Hollywood and Alhambra Local workforce Development systems have created two more cohorts, starting their classroom instruction in mid-February 2017.  They have already turned in two months On the Job Training hours and it sounds as if they are really enjoying the instruction and the chance to learn how do be the best Workforce Development Professionals possible. The second cohort consists of two 20 person, groups to make up 40 Workforce Development Professionals; all at varying levels and titles within the Local Workforce System. Around seven other areas have also inquired how to bring this program to their area and realize the value in building the system’s capacity to serve our customers.

This is an incredible opportunity to learn more about the history of workforce, communication skills, service delivery, managing and leadership skills, effective decision making, and facilitation skills; among others. Not many individuals receive the opportunity to obtain these valuable skills in a safe environment, being critiqued by some of the top workforce leaders. These are real skills one can take away and become a leaders in their own right. CWA recognizes the importance of raising the skill level of the workforce system’s capacity to serve job seekers more effectively and we will continue to push forward. It is our hope to have an apprenticeship program available across the state, in every local workforce development area in order to move the needle on our system and to keep pressing the limit on what our system can do.