On Tuesday, March 20, The Committee on Small Business Subcommittee on Contracting and Workforce heard from a panel of witnesses on apprenticeship initiatives—specifically, the Department of Labor Registered Apprenticeship Program, which combines on-the-job learning and related technical instruction. Jeffrey Forrest, vice president of economic and workforce development at the College of the Canyons, in Santa Clarita, CA and co-founder of the Strong Workforce Apprenticeship Group (SWAG) testified before the committee.
Since its launch in August 2017, SWAG has become one of the fastest growing models for non-traditional apprenticeship in the State of California. Forrest and Tracy DiFilippis, apprenticeship coordinator with Goodwill Southern California, formed SWAG to meet small businesses’ need for a model of apprenticeship that is easy to implement while requiring little to no administrative oversight for the business. Forrest and DiFilippis recently presented an overview of SWAG for the AMP SoCal Webinar Series which gave insight into how small aerospace and defense manufacturers throughout the Southern California region have been benefiting from this program.
“The Small Business Committee has heard many accounts of the skills gap and its detrimental impact on small businesses and the American economy,” said Subcommittee Chairman Steve Knight (R-CA). “To combat this issue, Americans need an arsenal of workforce development strategies that balance the immediate needs of employers, long-term career goals of employees, and the rapid evolution of technology.”
Though apprenticeships have been in practice for centuries, the method has received renewed focus as a valuable and effective workforce development strategy, and one of the best techniques to preserve and sustain the knowledge base of an experienced workforce for a new generation of employees.
“The focus on Apprenticeship is greater today than ever before,” stated Forrest. “From the launch of the American Apprenticeship Initiative in 2016, to the Executive Order issued recently under President Donald J. Trump, Registered Apprenticeship has taken center stage as an effective way for companies to develop a pipeline of talent to meet the critical needs of their workforce.”
Ms. Tammy Simmons
Vice President, Human Resources and Marketing
Machine Specialties, Inc.
Mr. Jeffrey Forrest
Vice President, Economic and Workforce Development
College of the Canyons
Santa Clarita, CA