- In a March 18 virtual signing ceremony, industrial cutting tool manufacturer Hypertherm agreed to become the first employer participant in an HR apprenticeship program operated by the Society for Human Resource Management's charitable organization, SHRM Foundation, SHRM said in a press release.
- The program, a Registered Apprenticeship Program under the U.S. Department of Labor, includes 144 hours of required technical instruction in HR competencies such as HR management, staffing, employment law and compensation and benefits in addition to on-the-job experience, per a SHRM webpage. SHRM Foundation estimated a length of "between 18 and 24 months" to complete the program, with the goal of preparing apprentices to take the SHRM-CP exam upon completion.
- "By the conclusion of our grant with [DOL], we anticipate engaging more than 800 apprentices," Wendi Safstrom, executive director of SHRM Foundation, said during the virtual event. "This commitment to talent development sends a strong message to all employees about the workplace that a company wants to foster."
The apprenticeship model has seen rising growth and interest in recent years, particularly in fields that lay outside traditional trades. Programs have sprung up supporting career development in advanced manufacturing, information technology and pharmaceutical work, an Iowa economic development official told HR Dive in 2019.
Hypertherm has graduated more than 700 apprentices and has been involved with apprenticeships for more than 12 years, according to the press release. Speaking at the virtual event, Jenny Levy, vice president of people, community and environment at Hypertherm, said the company's apprenticeships have given opportunities to people of different educational backgrounds and career paths.
"Human resources — our management of talent and people across our associate-owned company — is critically important to our culture here and to the career paths that we have," said Levy. "We see that people are the pulse of our entire business … and [HR] is the way that we build that."
Levy added that the employee who will become the first participant in the SHRM Foundation apprenticeship program at Hypertherm started as a machine operator apprentice at the company 13 years ago and is now a leader of its off-shift machine shop. The employee, Levy added, "has voiced over the years the desire to build his career in the HR space. This apprenticeship is perfect for this person and many others like him."
The pandemic created some challenges for apprenticeship programs including the closure of in-person training opportunities. Programs adopted creative approaches in order to adjust, such as shifting to online learning and moving apprentices to work on activities that support public health operations, like making personal protective equipment.
At the federal level, President Joe Biden rolled back a Trump administration program that allowed entities including employers and business groups to create Industry-Recognized Apprenticeship Programs with the support of DOL. The Biden administration said it would also seek to modernize and diversify the existing registered apprenticeship model.
On March 18, DOL said it made available $87.5 million in grants toward expanding registered apprenticeships and set aside $40 million of that funding for states that implement diversity, equity and inclusion efforts within their apprenticeship programs.