South Baldwin Chamber paving way for new Apprenticeship Programs

By Jessica Vaughn
Posted 9/13/18

The South Baldwin Chamber of Commerce, as part of their five-year Gateway Initiative, is taking steps to bring new apprenticeship programs to the county in hopes of strengthening the workforce and …

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South Baldwin Chamber paving way for new Apprenticeship Programs

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The South Baldwin Chamber of Commerce, as part of their five-year Gateway Initiative, is taking steps to bring new apprenticeship programs to the county in hopes of strengthening the workforce and offering exciting new career opportunities. Currently the state only supports five apprenticeships, including: Healthcare, Construction/Carpentry, Information Technology, Transportation/Distribution, and Logistics/Advanced Manufacturing/Industrial Maintenance. Out of these, a key industry in our region is noticeably absent.

“Obviously we have businesses in South Baldwin that represent any of these clusters, but what’s not supported is the hospitality industry,” said Director of Talent Development and Recruitment Ed Bushaw.

The Chamber contacted Apprenticeship Alabama (AA) to research the process of registering new apprenticeships, and found it surprisingly easy. All they needed was an interested business as well as their professional organization. The Chamber found three interested areas immediately.

Chamber officials invite business leaders to join them on Oct. 3 at Meyer Real Estate (1585 Gulf Shores Parkway, Gulf Shores) from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. as national representatives from The National Restaurant Association, the American Hotel and Lodging Association, and The American Culinary Federation give a free session detailing three innovative new apprenticeship programs for Restaurant Managers, Lodging & Vacation Rental Managers, and Chefs, and how businesses can begin implementing them.

These programs are supported by the US Department of Labor, and are designed as a solution to equip workers with skills needed to drive a successful business, as well as giving workers the opportunity to begin a rewarding career.

“We’ve got to figure out how to get more people into our workforce, because we’re at a two percent unemployment rate,” said Bushaw. “There aren’t enough people, and where I feel we have to start is with young kids, getting them to understand that you can make a good living without going to a four-year university by entering one of these trade fields … These kids have to find a job, and today, whether it’s welding, transportation, or hospitality, there’s great career opportunities. You can make a good living, support your family, and take care of yourself by entering one of these career fields. That’s the basis for all apprenticeships.”

The Chamber is working as a conduit between the educational offerings and the employers, bringing them together to prepare kids at high school and college levels to enter into the workforce. Apprenticeships offer an excellent opportunity for them to learn valuable skills before entering into a career.

But why should a business consider an apprenticeship?

On their website, AA offers facts and details on the benefits of the programs, from on-the-job and educational training to tax credits available to registered businesses. According to their website, an employer is allowed up to a $1000 income tax credit for each qualifying apprentice, and can claim a tax credit for up to five apprentices annually. The website also gives a detailed explanation on the process to register an apprenticeship program, which includes: a meeting with a staff member of AA providing guidance on establishing a program; AA submitting a draft of standards to USDOL and the company; Standards reviewed and revised until a consensus is reached by all parties; USDOL sends updated standards to company for them to sign and submit for approval; and finally, upon approval, the company is registered for an apprenticeship program.

The South Baldwin Chamber hopes to see all interested parties on Oct. 3 to meet with the national representatives and learn about exciting new opportunities for the workforce.

For more information on the apprenticeships coming to the area or the process of registering, check www.ChooseRestaurants.org/apprenticeship, www.ahla.com/apprenticeship, or ApprenticeshipAlabama.org.

Check the South Baldwin Chamber of Commerce’s website for more information on the Gateway Initiative and upcoming events at www.SouthBaldwinChamber.com.