Apprenticeship is catching on


Apprenticeship isn’t just for blue collar trades workers. The model, which involves real commitment by employers in training, has lately been spreading to pink and white collar workers too.

Last September, Oregon AFSCME launched its United We Heal apprenticeship, a nonprofit training trust jointly overseen by union designees and representatives of participating employers. The program will help mental health and drug treatment workers become certified as Qualified Mental Health Associates, which means added skill and higher pay. Over 12 months, apprentices take courses offered online through Eastern Gateway Community College in Ohio while also getting on-the-job training from QMHA certified coworkers. The program started with two apprentices in September, and more are expected this month. There is no cost to apprentices.

“I think this marks a real evolution and maturity in the relationship between the union and some of the behavioral health employers,” said Andy Friedman, director of the trust.

Even lawyers are looking at the virtues of the apprenticeship model. The Oregon Supreme court recently approved alternatives to the traditional bar exam that law school grads must pass to become licensed attorneys. Soon, law students will be able to do 1,000 to 1,500 hours of supervised legal practice apprenticeships instead.


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