When it comes to connecting job seekers to paid apprenticeships, Maricopa County does it best, according to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL).
The federal agency recently ranked the county No. 1 in the nation for the number of people it places into registered apprenticeship programs who received support through its workforce programs.
Now, the successful Registered Apprenticeship (RA) program is expanding into new sectors, providing more opportunities to residents at a time when demand for new careers is high, county officials said.
This is a proven path for many, including low-income adults and youth, to have a higher quality of life, said Clint Hickman, chairman of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors.
“The program gives hundreds of people each year a pathway out of poverty, putting them to work right away in industries where they can build a career,” he said.
Expanding into new industry sectors beyond construction
Up to this point, the RA program has focused primarily on building partnerships within the construction industry, including electrical and sheet metal work, pipefitting, welding, plumbing, and heat and A/C installation and repair.
The county currently is working with the Arizona Department of Economic Security to support two new apprenticeship programs in auto mechanics and IT. It’s also seeking new partnerships with companies in sectors like healthcare, insurance and information technology.
Expanding to include apprentices from criminal justice system
The program is also increasing efforts to help individuals in the criminal justice system who often face significant challenges upon release in getting and maintaining employment, said Matt McGuire, chairman of the Maricopa Workforce Development Board, which assists the supervisors in strategic planning and oversight of workforce development goals.
The idea is to become more innovative in its approach to connect citizens to “good jobs,” McGuire said.
Employment rate above 93 percent
DOL statistics show that the employment rate for apprenticeship participants in the county program was 93.6 percent in 2019. That’s higher than any other type of job training offered by the county, and significantly higher than the 62.2 percent employment rate for basic career services, the county said.
During the fiscal 2019 program year, Maricopa County had 660 apprentice participants. In the fiscal 2020 program, 570 apprentices have enrolled so far.
“This program was exactly what I needed after I was laid off from a job in the construction industry due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Matthew Conroy, a recent participant. “Getting paid as an electrician apprentice allows me to grow in an industry I’m passionate about, and the paycheck is helping me pay for schooling at the Phoenix Electrical JATC.”
How to get an apprenticeship
Depending on a job seeker’s needs, Maricopa County may cover part or all the cost of the first year of an apprenticeship. There are a few ways a person can get an apprenticeship through Maricopa County’s RA program including:
- Look for jobs and services through [email protected]
- Search available apprenticeships at: Explore apprenticeships
- Be referred for an apprenticeship by an employer
For employers interested in offering apprenticeships Employers interested in offering apprenticeships through the county’s program can explore opportunities at: Employer apprenticeships