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Expanding Earn and Learn Strategies with Industry-Recognized Credentials - FAQs

As manufacturers, we face a shared challenge: a critical labor shortage, particularly in skilled positions. Through the Dayton Region Manufacturing Workforce Partnership (DRMWP), local manufacturers are working together to create industry-led solutions with education, workforce, and economic development partners.

DRMA was awarded the Department of Labor Scaling Apprenticeship grant last August, and will be using these funds to set up Earn and Learn programs with are education partners. Here is a list of Frequently Asked Questions about the Scaling Apprenticeship grant and Earn and Learn strategies.

What is the Ohio Manufacturing Workforce Partnership (OMWP)?

To build Ohio’s manufacturing talent pipeline, OMWP, a collaboration of The Ohio Manufacturers’ Association and Ohio TechNet, was formed to provide an industry-education partnership to drive Ohio’s manufacturing talent system. OMWP is leading a statewide initiative to upskill 5,000 Ohioans through earn-and-learn strategies, as well as other innovative strategies. OMWP provides a framework to support locally driven efforts to develop and scale innovative models that respond to the needs of employers as well as career seekers. That’s why the sector partnerships are so important.

What is the OMWP Scaling Apprenticeship grant?

OMWP’s earn-and-learn programs are currently supported by the U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL), through its Scaling Apprenticeship Through Sector-Based Strategies initiative, which provided a $12 million grant. OMWP is a collaboration between Ohio TechNet (OTN), a consortium of Ohio’s community colleges and other post-secondary education institutions, and The Ohio Manufacturers’ Association (OMA), which facilitates the statewide network of manufacturer-led regional sector partnerships.

What is the role of sector partnerships?

Because sector partnerships are industry-led and locally driven, they are in the best position to identify the specific needs and challenges that manufacturers in their area have in common. The sector partnerships make key decisions about the types of strategies that will work best for their members.

What are the benefits of earn-and-learn strategies?

Earn-and-learn strategies are proven solutions to help manufacturers recruit, train and retain a skilled workforce. By combining technical instruction with on-the-job training, earn-and-learn increases relevancy, accelerates learning, and ensures the employee is mastering the essential skills. Earn-and-learn gives employers the opportunity to build a workforce trained to their specific needs.

How are earn-and-learn strategies different from traditional apprenticeships?

Registered apprenticeships are a tried-and-true approach for preparing workers for jobs – and meeting the business needs for a highly-skilled workforce that continues to innovate and adapt to meet the needs of the 21st century. Registered apprenticeships are viable options and provide participants with a nationally recognized credential when completed. Other earn-and-learn models have also proven to be successful that give manufacturers flexibility to focus on skills and outcomes most important to their success while also ensuring participants earn a nationally portable, industry recognized credential. Businesses can decide what works best for them and collaborate with education partners to bring it to life.

What are the requirements for the current DOL-supported project?

Earn-and-learn projects must meet five requirements:

  • Provide paid, work-based learning delivered by the employer.

  • Offer structured, on-the-job training and mentorship.

  • Provide or arrange for technical instruction relevant to approved apprenticeship pathways.

  • Ensure completion of a nationally portable, industry-recognized credential.

  • Meet standards for safety and equal opportunity.

Who is eligible for earn-and-learn opportunities under the current DOL-supported project?

The program can be offered to:

  • Out-of-school youth age 17 and over

  • Unemployed or underemployed adults

  • Current employees

There will be particular emphasis on enrolling:

  • Veterans

  • Women

  • People of color

  • Ex-offenders

Is the program targeting specific types of jobs?

Manufacturers are working with area education and training providers to develop relevant training programs to maximize efficiency in developing talent in initially, these in-demand skill areas:

  • Production

  • Machining

  • Welding

  • Industrial maintenance

  • Automation and robotics

What is a nationally portable, industry-recognized credential?

A nationally portable, industry-recognized credential is a third-party verification of an individual's competence that will be recognized anywhere in the country. It can take many forms, including certifications, certificates, licenses, and degrees. “Industry-recognized” means the credential has value to more than one employer. In other words, it cannot be unique to a specific company or a specific region.

What are the benefits of credentials?

Credentials validate the skills and competencies a prospective employee, or an upskilling current employee, need to be productive and successful in a manufacturing environment. Key benefits include:

  • Remove guesswork from hiring and promotion by matching the right candidates with the right jobs and growing the skillsets of their existing workforce.

  • Reduce training time and costs and increase the speed at which the employee achieves value-added production.

  • At a time when skilled, experienced workers are in short supply, bring new people into manufacturing with essential skills as demonstrated by credentials they hold.

Credentials can also be an important part of your retention strategy. Credentials align to well-defined career pathways, which is attractive to workers who desire long-term career development. Manufacturing careers are often perceived, incorrectly, as “dead end.” Using credentials to map out long-term career paths highlight the opportunities ahead in manufacturing as the employee gains skills at each step along the way.

Some companies already offer on-the-job training to support employees in getting the credentials through local schools. What’s in it for them?

OMWP has grant resources to reduce and potentially remove the cost of credentialing for manufacturers, and through our coordinated efforts, we are working to streamline other available resources that can help reduce the time and cost of ensuring you have the workforce with the skills you need.

But the benefits are much bigger than that for companies that get involved in their sector partnerships and help drive this industry-led process. The project is also adding significant new resources to help all of us promote our careers and build the capacity of regional sector partnerships, which helps us work better together to strengthen our talent strategies. A learning community supported by the grant supports peer-to-peer learning to save all of us valuable time and resources to know what works, to recruit the best candidates, and to have robust retention and advancement programs in place. Together, we are working to make Ohio the state that solves the workforce challenges facing manufacturing.


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