PITTSBURG, Kan. — It has been one year since Governor Laura Kelly established the Office of Registered Apprenticeship to strengthen workforce development and grow the economy by modernizing and expanding apprenticeship opportunities and by building partnerships with educational institutions.
Over the past year, Kansas has expanded apprenticeship opportunities by nearly 40 percent. According to the Governor’s office, there has been a 37.9 percent increase in Kansans participating in apprenticeships since September 2022, with nearly 4,400 apprentices in Kansas today. Additionally, the Office of Registered Apprenticeship has expanded the type of occupations in which Kansans can gain experience: 49 new job titles have been added, resulting in a total of 107 occupations in the apprenticeship pipeline.
All Registered Apprenticeship programs must have five core components to be recognized for certification, including on-the-job training, related technical instruction, mentorship, wage progression, and industry-recognized credentials. However, the driving force must be a business or industry willing to support an apprentice to “earn and learn” a career.
Since its creation, the Office of Registered Apprenticeships has reported a 38.8% increase in the completion of apprenticeship programs — from 129 program completers in 2022 to 179 in 2023, according to the Governor’s office.
The Kelly Administration is now celebrating the success of the program.
"We are helping Kansans gain the skills they need to get jobs that don’t require a college degree – and we’re developing the workforce needed to attract new businesses to the state,” said in a recent press release. “Because of our efforts, Kansas continues to lead the nation as the state with the most business investment per capita.”
Lieutenant Governor and Secretary of Commerce David Toland added, “Our purposeful economic development is creating thousands of new opportunities for hard-working Kansans across the state.”
While the program seems to be working statewide, it has yet to produce significant results in southeast Kansas.
“While Kansas Apprenticeships are rapidly growing across the state, there has not been a significant impact in SEK yet,” said Pittsburg State professor Mark Johnson. “However, I will say that with the establishment of the Kansas Youth Apprenticeship grant program, the Teacher Education Apprenticeship programs, and the passage of tax credits for businesses using registered apprenticeships, we will certainly see increases of apprenticeships in this area within the next year.”
Johnson, who acts as a subject-matter expert and secretary for the Kansas Apprenticeship Council, said he is part of several discussions happening right now that will heighten the implementation of apprenticeship training in industries across this region very soon.
Johnson said that Kansas apprenticeships are helping redefine how to prepare a workforce.
“It might continue to be going to college out of high school to get a degree,” Johnson said, “but most assuredly will include more and more people going to work first, getting trained as an apprentice and earning a significant wage so that they can afford to go to college to further their career.”
Already, the Bachelor of Science in Workforce Development (BSWD) program that Johnson helps teach at PSU has partnered with Butler County Community College and will be accepting apprenticeship trainees that have completed an associate's degree to help them complete a bachelor's online in about 2 years. Similar partnerships are being created across the state.
“I am looking forward to continued growth and development of Registered Apprenticeships for years to come,” said Johnson, “and applaud Governor Kelly's foresight in creating solutions to vast workforce shortages across the state.”