Apprenticeships : a descriptive case study to investigate apprenticeships as a means of workforce development through earn-and-learn.


This study explored apprenticeships as a means of workforce development and the creation of new talent pools within manufacturing companies. An apprenticeship is an arrangement between an individual, a company, and in some instances an academic provider to learn a trade or a job through the combination of academics and on-the-job training (OJT). Successful completion of the academic and OJT generally results in the apprentice obtaining an offer of employment with the company that sponsored the apprenticeship in some cases the apprentice may be employed full-time with another employer within the same job field. This descriptive multiple case study sought to understand the process for designing, implementing, and measuring the benefits provided to the apprentice and company by using apprenticeships as a means of workforce development. I utilized a combination of a priori and a posteriori theory that served as a starting place to determine if apprenticeships could be a viable solution for workforce development and to measure the apprentice’s ability to gain entry-level skills. There is literature that describes apprenticeships within manufacturing as a way to address workforce development and employee retention. Thus, it is critical to gain a greater understanding of the benefits and ability of apprenticeships to address a manufacturing company’s lack of skilled talent pool and the attrition of an aging workforce. I employed a purposeful sample to select the participants and create subgroups based on position, location, type of academic and OJT program, gender, and other related critical success indicators (Creswell, 2018). I collected data via electronic evaluations during each month of the apprenticeship, field notes, and semi-structured interviews conducted during the apprenticeship program. The coding process was a combination of predefined categories and newly defined critical success indicators (CSI) given that employee data were gathered from existing Human Resource and Learning Management Systems (LMS) databases and through electronic evaluations made filtering out personal employee data easy. Themes in the collected data emerged through employing the Huberman and Miles (1994) approach, highlighting that when manufacturing companies apply the right focus and support apprenticeship programs can develop pre-entry-level candidates into entry-level employees.