COLUMBUS — According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 10.4 million job openings reported on the last day of August. Many of these jobs are in the trades and require specific education and experience to fill.

Nov. 15 kicks off the 7th annual National Apprenticeship Week, a nationwide event where industry, labor, equity, workforce, education, and government leaders host events to showcase the successes and value of Registered Apprenticeship for re-building our economy, advancing racial and gender equity, and supporting underserved communities. Data from the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services shows that Ohio is ranked No. 1 in the Midwest for the number of apprentices in the state, and No. 3 nationally.

“Many of our inspectors start off as apprentices,” said Patrick Reardon, deputy superintendent of the Division of Industrial Compliance with the Department of Commerce. “Whether it’s elevator, electrical, boiler, structural, plumber, and also whether it’s at the local or state level, they all require inspectors to have completed an apprenticeship program or have a certain number of years of experience in the trades.”

The Department of Commerce is very involved with apprenticeships. The Wage and Hour Bureau oversees prevailing wage, which establishes the required wage rate for state-funded construction projects. The only people on those projects who can be paid less than the established journeyperson wage rate are registered apprentices. This not only gives registered apprentices a chance to get hands-on experience, but it encourages companies to employ apprentices and help them grow.

These opportunities are only for registered apprenticeships, which have all the quality training components such as safety training, on the job training, equal employment opportunity training, and classroom training as approved under the National Apprenticeship Act.

Additionally, the Department of Commerce regulates the Manufacturing Mentorship Program, which is something of a pre-apprenticeship program. This program allows any 16- or 17-year-old student who is not part of an established technical education program to work in a manufacturing setting with adjusted restrictions due to them being minors.

“Of the number of registered apprenticeship programs in Ohio, 65% of them are manufacturing programs. On the flip side, 65% of the registered apprentices in Ohio are in construction,” said Reardon. “Manufacturing is a huge sector, not only for registered apprenticeships in Ohio but nationally as well, and most of the manufacturers in Ohio pull from the secondary tech-education centers. The issue is that there are students that are interested in manufacturing in traditional high schools who don’t really have an established pathway to gain exposure to the manufacturing sector. That’s where the Manufacturing Mentorship Program comes in.”

For more information about how apprentices are affected by prevailing wage, or for more information regarding the Manufacturing Mentorship Program, visit com.ohio.gov/dico.

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