Veterans Apprenticeship Programs, Gi Bill Benefits
An apprenticeship is a type of employment in which an individual – an apprentice – learns a trade or occupation by means of a program involving both on-the-job training and structured learning. In the United States, the Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration (ETA) coordinates apprenticeship via the Registered Apprenticeship program. ETA’s Office of Apprenticeship (OA) works with State Apprenticeship Agencies (SAA’s) to administer the program nationally. The ETA website “Registered Apprenticeship: Earn. Learn. Succeed.” (http://www.doleta.gov/OA/) has a special section for servicemembers and veterans.
Apprentices earn a paycheck from day one, with incremental raises as skill levels increase. Related instruction, technical training, or other certified training is provided by apprenticeship training centers, technical schools, community colleges, and/or institutions employing distance and computer-based learning approaches.
Men and women who complete a Registered Apprenticeship program receive an industry-issued, nationally recognized, portable credential – a Completion of Registered Apprenticeship certificate. In 2011, more than 55,000 people graduated from Registered Apprenticeship programs. Many programs also provide apprentices with an opportunity to obtain a secondary or post-secondary degree simultaneously.
A veteran in an approved program can use his or her GI Bill benefit and receive a tax-free stipend – in addition to the entry-level wage. For a veteran using the Post-9/11 GI Bill, the stipend is the equivalent of the monthly housing allowance (MHA) for an E-5 with dependents. The amount decreases in 20 percent steps every six months as the veteran’s wages increase until the veteran obtains the status and pay of journeyperson. A PDF http://www.benefits.va.gov/gibill/docs/factsheets/OJT_Factsheet.pdf provides details.
In addition, the Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (VR&E) program of the Department of Veterans Affairs provides employers with benefits to offset the cost of certain apprenticeship training. An employer that hires a veteran with a service-connected disability may be entitled to reimbursements up to 50 percent of the veteran’s salary for six months.
Registered Apprenticeships are active in traditional industries such as construction and manufacturing. It is also important in the training and development of employees in such emerging industries as healthcare, information technology, energy, and telecommunications. The Registered Apprenticeship program offers access to 1,000 career areas. Traditional skilled occupations include:
- automotive technician
- maintenance mechanic
- operating engineer
- sheet metal worker
- structural steel worker
- tool and die maker
A Registered Apprenticeship program is sponsored by an individual business or an employer association and may be partnered with a labor organization via a collective bargaining agreement. The sponsor specifies the minimum qualifications for its program. Qualifications may include a certain level of educational attainment, the ability to perform physical functions essential to the work, and certain work experience.
There are three approaches to completing a program:
Competency-based, involving successful demonstration of acquired skills and knowledge, verified by the program sponsor, with an on-the-job learning component and related technical instruction (RTI).
Time-based, involving completion of at least 2,000 hours of on-the-job learning experience.
Hybrid, which requires the apprentice to complete a specified minimum number of on-the-job learning hours and RTI hours.
Apprenticeship programs range from 1 to 6 years in length, but most take 4 years.
To enter an apprenticeship program, you may need to complete a pre-apprenticeship training program. You will need to get accepted by a sponsor and, in some cases, a labor organization in partnership with the sponsor. A list of registered program sponsors is accessible from http://oa.doleta.gov/bat.cfm.