Feb. 22, 2011

Apprentice Partnership Initiative works to translate military skills to the civilian workplace

By Capt. Matt Nowak
Virginia Army National Guard Public Affairs

SANDSTON, Va. — Virginia’s Department of Military Affairs has created an Apprentice Partnership Initiative that works with the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry to allow Virginia Guardsmen to translate their military job skills directly into marketable civilian job skills.


The Apprentice Partnership Initiative created by the Virginia Department of Military Affairs works with the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry to allow Virginia Guardsmen to translate their military job skills directly into marketable civilian job skills. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Andrew H. Owen, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

“The Apprentice Partnership Initiative is a remarkable partnership between the Virginia National Guard and the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry,” said Beverley Donati, Director of Registered Apprenticeship, Virginia Department of Labor and Industry. “Our goal is to provide a bridge from the Guardsmen’s military career field to civilian credentialing. They have served us; it is our responsibility to serve them.”

Both Soldiers and Airmen are eligible to participate in the program which affords credit for military training and experience to be applied towards becoming a card carrying apprentice and later journeyworker in a specific trade.

This program has many benefits for Guardsmen.  Apprenticeship programs traditionally produce well trained, skilled workers in specific trade field. Civilian employers like to hire workers who already have the experience and training so they don’t have to spend time and money for training. Guardsmen with these skills are more competitive on the civilian market and can be hired at a higher rate. Over time the earning potential is also higher.

Employers also benefit from this program. Employers can get the best of both worlds when hiring a Guardsman who complete this program. Not only do they have a worker with the civilian skills but also a worker with the discipline and professionalism of a Soldier or Airman.


Air National Guard occupations are often the easiest to earn apprenticeship credit because they are very technical in nature, but many Army specialities qualify as well. (U. S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Jerry Bynum)

“Air Guard occupations are the easiest since they are very technical, as well as many of the Army Guard occupations that are considered more traditional apprenticeship occupations, such as electricians and HVAC,” said Virginia Army National Guard 2nd Lt. Bryan Hicks, Virginia National Guard’s API coordinator. “Out of the many different military jobs, one job that has been difficult to put a box around is infantry. Even that can be worked into the program. Infantry Soldiers have a variety of skills from managing troops to human resource experience, which are very marketable skills in the civilian sector."

The Army’s motor transport operator field is one example of how the program works. The program would coordinate with Southside Virginia Community College’s site on Fort Pickett to apply all military training towards credit for a commercial driver’s license.  Guardsman would incur minimal expenses for paying insurance and truck rental while meeting most of the qualifications for the CDL.

Guardsmen that sign up for the program will need to complete the Apprentice Action Form based on their working military occupation.  Once completed and turned in, they become a registered apprentice.

While in the apprentice status, the Guardsman must keep track of their hours on the job through a journal. After completing all DOLI standards and guidance for that trade, the Guardsman will turn in the required documentation. Once approved, the Guardsman becomes a certified journeyworker.

The journey card allows eligibility to test for state certification. The Virginia Department of Labor and Industry is recognized nationwide as an accredited certification and the certification can then be used across the country.

Civilians going through a similar program could spend anywhere from $2,000 to $10,000 to get the same education and training Guardsmen get just for doing their jobs.

The program got its roots in 2009 from a company first sergeant who wanted to help their troops find civilian jobs. The idea was adopted and became available for the entire Virginia National Guard. The program currently has about 225 Soldiers and Airmen registered and encompass almost all military jobs and fields.

The program also has plans to make registering for the program a requirement for new soldiers coming into the Guard as part of the recruit sustainment program.

“The Apprentice Partnership Initiative is a great recruiting tool. It helps the new recruit not only make an informed military career decision, but helps provide direction in their civilian career path as well,” said Virginia Air National Guard Col. Carl Bess, Virginia National Guard’s  J1.

Additional information about the program can be request through email at va.api@ng.army.mil.

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