- Brookdale Senior Living Inc., the largest operator of senior housing in the U.S., will pilot a new certified nursing assistant apprenticeship program at its communities in Chattanooga, Tennessee, beginning in 2020, the company announced in November.
- The program, approved by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) as a registered apprenticeship program, will pair apprentice nursing assistants with mentors who will work with them over the course of a year.
- Participants will be eligible for three pay increases during the program, and they will earn a nationally recognized certificate upon completion, Brookdale Senior Living said in a statement.
Certified apprenticeships in the healthcare space are helping early-career workers break into high-growth occupations. Nursing assistant roles, for example, are expected to grow at a rate of 9% — "faster than average" among U.S. occupations — between 2018 and 2028, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Employers have found success with approaches that combine on-the-job training and classroom learning, which describes many modern apprenticeships, according to a 2019 report by the Institute for WorkPlace Skills & Innovation America.
The expansion of the apprenticeship model in the U.S. has been driven by a diverse array of organizations. In Pittsburgh, local training center New Century Careers launched in October a two-year robotics technician apprenticeship with funding from both the state of Pennsylvania and from grants backed by the private manufacturing sector. Certain large employers, like Accenture, have formed apprenticeships as talent pipelines for incoming graduates. Students can work 36 to 40 hours a week at Accenture, in programs that last anywhere between three to 12 months, to learn skills in areas like software development.
The Trump administration has made apprenticeships a central part of its workforce development agenda. In June, the DOL proposed an overhaul of its apprenticeship approval process, which could potentially open the door for other entities to set standards, training and curricula for industry-recognized apprenticeship programs.
The rule provides for certain protections against what the DOL called "conflicts of interest" between entities that create apprenticeships and those that approve them. But some apprenticeship expansion groups have challenged the rule on the basis that it may produce apprenticeships of varying quality. Labor unions are also worried the new rule may reduce wages as well as the quality of training, according to a report by The Wall Street Journal.