Posted on: December 15, 2021
Author: Jason Petrait, Director of Funding & Strategic Partnerships, Workforce Development Council of Seattle-King County
How Workforce Development Boards Can Support Apprenticeship image

This article was previously published by the National Association of Workforce Boards (NAWB)  and is republished here with permission because IACET deemed it to be a resource that is relevant to IACET stakeholders.

With National Apprenticeship Week fast approaching, it’s time to consider how local workforce development boards can support apprenticeship. With apprenticeship called out in WIOA, and recent federal grants prioritizing apprenticeship, workforce boards have an opportunity to play an important role in advancing registered apprenticeship.

Washington’s apprenticeship landscape is complex, with unions, intermediaries, state agencies, and community-based organizations playing critical roles in delivering training in one of the largest apprenticeship systems in the country. For Washington’s local workforce development boards, finding ways to support apprenticeship can be challenging, especially when starting out. With more than a decade history of supporting apprenticeship, the Workforce Development Council of Seattle-King County recommends these starting points:

  • Learn about the players and their roles in apprenticeship, and how the system works to deliver training and record data. Apprenticeships either work with USDOL or their state apprenticeship agency, and contacts within each are crucial.
  • Show up! Quarterly Apprenticeship Council meetings, annual conferences, and innovative local initiatives like the Regional Pre-Apprenticeship Collaboration offer opportunities to partner and support.
  • Identify and grow into your role, using your employer partners to guide your work. Your board can help you identify where to plug in within the system, as well as help orient you to the political landscape.

The power of the WIOA system to expand access to apprenticeship and apprenticeship preparation is both great and underutilized. Locally we’ve taken on new initiatives as well as made changes to how the board operates. Some ideas to re-use:

  • Bring in expertise to offer Apprenticeship 101 seminars to front-line staff at American Job Centers.
  • Highlight the desire to see apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship as part of your RFP applications.
  • Engage in national grant and learning opportunities like NAWB and JFF’s Apprenticeship Expansion and Modernization Fund.
  • Review your local policies to ensure apprenticeship is not just allowable but encouraged as part of service delivery. Policies like supportive services, individual training accounts, and work experience can be rewritten to foreground apprenticeship as a board priority.
  • Recruit an apprenticeship-focused board member. WIOA references this, but local boards can be a priority, and apprenticeship representation can encourage other business board members to consider bringing on apprentices.

Registered apprenticeship is the gold standard of workforce training for a reason: it’s rigorous and it’s time-consuming, but the credential and the experience (and the wages!) change lives. Best of luck in your apprenticeship journey. NAWB and other local board leaders are here to help.

National Apprenticeship Week isn’t just an opportunity to celebrate the gold standard of workforce training. It’s also a chance to review board practices, data, and outcomes, all while charting a path to better support apprentices and those interested in entering apprenticeship.

About the Author


Petrait has worked in education and workforce development for more than a decade. In his most recent role as Director of Funding & Strategic Partnerships at the Workforce Development Council of Seattle-King County, he oversaw private grants focused on manufacturing sector strategies, aerospace apprenticeship and workforce policy. 

Previously Petrait served as Director of Special Projects at South Seattle College. Over six years at the college, he managed programs and partnerships, including a 1-year machining certificate with Shoreline Community College, manufacturing pre-apprenticeships and federal, state and local grants.

Petrait is a trained DACUM (developing a curriculum for occupational analysis) facilitator, former English as a second language teacher and a Northwest native. He earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Washington and his Masters of Public Administration from Seattle University.

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