Apprenticeships are proven hands-on training programs designed to provide industry and business-specific skills necessary for a successful career. The “earn while you learn” model combines technical instruction with on-the-job training and set wage increases. Apprentices earn an income while they learn from skilled mentors in the profession and bolster the work experience with related technical instruction that meets national industry-recognized standards as well as the specific needs of the sponsoring employer.
Apprenticeship Programs Offered at FVCC
- Electrical Apprentice C.T.S.
- HVAC & Refrigeration Apprentice C.T.S.
- Carpenter Apprenticeship Program*
*This registered apprenticeship program is a non-credit program sponsored by Swank Enterprises.
Contact FVCC’s Apprenticeship Coordinator to learn more about these apprenticeships or discuss other apprenticeship opportunities.
Phone: (406) 756-4361
Follow these steps to get started on your apprenticeship path:
- Complete the FVCC Apprenticeship Interest form below
- Select a program in your preferred industry
- Meet with the Apprenticeship Coordinator to see if you can work under the job conditions and fulfill the educational requirements of the program
- Apply to FVCC and enroll in classes
- Begin your apprenticeship with a sponsoring employer
Apprenticeship Interest Form
How Does Apprenticeship Work?
Apprenticeship works when an apprentice (you) is employed by a sponsoring business that provides paid on-the-job training that coincides with classroom learning. The apprentice and sponsoring business agree on the terms and conditions of the Apprenticeship Standards, which the employer uses to register their apprenticeship program with the Montana Registered Apprenticeship Program. The Apprenticeship Standards lays out the wage scale, length of apprenticeship, work process schedule and competencies, related instruction, and responsibilities of both the employer and the apprentice.
Contact FVCC’s Apprenticeship Coordinator to learn more about finding an employer and what training options we offer or to connect with northwest Montana’s Registered Apprenticeship Specialist for apprenticeship opportunities that FVCC does not provide.
Why Be An Apprentice?
The number one reason to be an apprentice is to start the career you want now, learning the essential skills while earning a salary.
Through apprenticeship, you will gain the skills and training you need for the career you want without going into student debt. This “earn-while-you-learn” model is a robust, hands-on educational path combining on-the-job training with work in the classroom. With a progressive wage scale, the more you learn in the classroom and on the job, the more money you make. Because apprenticeship is designed around working for a wage, you can reduce your need for financial aid, and—in some cases—avoid student debt altogether. Many employers will pay for the educational costs of their apprentice or offer tuition reimbursement.
Apprentices who complete a registered apprenticeship program finish with little or no student debt, receive nationally recognized credentials, and earn a higher wage than their counterparts who did not do an apprenticeship. According to Montana Registered Apprenticeship, apprentices earn an average of $20,000 more than the state-wide average wage—a difference of $600,000 over a 30-year career.
Who Can Be An Apprentice?
Apprenticeship is for anyone looking to begin a new career or upgrade their skills to advance in their current job. If you have the determination and professionalism necessary, then you can succeed in a registered apprenticeship, whether you’re a high school or college student, a career changer, an incumbent worker, or someone looking to start a career.
Is Apprenticeship Right For Me?
The Registered Apprenticeship path is not for everyone. Being an apprentice requires hard work, grit, and a desire to develop the skills required to be successful in the chosen field. Apprenticeship isn’t another way to land a job; it is a demanding but rewarding career path. If you are willing to put in the time and effort, both on the job and in the classroom, in exchange for a rewarding career, then an apprenticeship is for you.
Apprenticeship is a time-tested solution to workforce problems, whether that’s training new employees or upskilling existing ones. Through mentoring and customized training, your apprentices learn invaluable skills and company culture from your team’s best. Apprenticeship is the ideal solution to train the “perfect employee” or transition beyond the retirement of an irreplaceable employee.
Apprenticeship isn’t an immediate solution to today’s staffing issues—it is the answer to tomorrow’s, one which fosters loyalty and passes on the skills and knowledge of your most experienced employees. Partnering with FVCC’s Apprenticeship Program provides you with a low-risk way to hire and train pre-vetted individuals or train existing employees for new roles and responsibilities. Furthermore, FVCC’s Pre-Apprenticeship programs in high schools provide your business with additional access to future talent.
FVCC offers several ways for businesses to partner with the college to build customized registered apprenticeship programs. Looking to hire an apprentice? Check. Want to upskill a current employee via apprenticeship? Check. Our mission is to promote excellence in lifelong learning, focused on student success and community needs. Complete the Employer Interest Form to have our Apprenticeship Coordinator contact you about your business’ workforce needs.
New Hires or Upskill Current Employees
FVCC offers several options for apprenticeship. Hire a student already earning a degree or certificate in your industry. Send a new-hire or current employee to FVCC to further their education and advance their skills. Interested in having multiple employees go through an apprenticeship program? FVCC’s Apprenticeship Coordinator and Business and Workforce Development Office can work with you to create a customized apprenticeship program to meet your specific needs.
Host an Apprentice
Complete the FVCC Apprenticeship Interest form and FVCC’s Apprenticeship Coordinator will contact you to start working on the best way to hire a new apprentice or train an incumbent employee.
What Is An Apprenticeship?
The U.S. Department of Labor defines apprenticeship as an “industry-driven, high-quality career pathway where employers can develop and prepare their future workforce, and individuals can obtain paid work experience, classroom instruction, mentorship, and a portable, nationally recognized credential.” Apprenticeship programs meet all industry standards for training employees with regards to safety, education and licensing requirements.
Apprenticeship is an employer-driven training program that gives the employer the ability to customize nationally recognized, industry-specific training so their employees learn the exact skills needed for the job from mentors who best represent the model employee. The apprentice develops the skills and knowledge of the industry by combining theoretical and technical skills learning with on-the-job training.
How does my business benefit?
Employers facing staffing issues often wish they could just hire an experienced individual who fits into the culture of the company. Apprenticeship is the best alternative to that perfect scenario. Businesses with apprenticeship programs reduce recruiting costs while developing a predictable and reliable supply of skilled workers. Apprenticeship is the proven model to develop workforce talent that keeps pace with advancements and changes in the industry. Apprenticeship is an investment in your business, but it is also an investment in your employee. That investment has a great return on investment in the form of an employee with a greater sense of loyalty and higher productivity rate. Other benefits of apprenticeship are:
- Reduce turnover and improve employee retention rates: according to Montana Registered Apprenticeship, 75% of apprentices continue to work for the same employer after completing an apprenticeship program
- Improved employee production: apprentices are more likely to finish work on time or ahead of schedule than their non-apprentice counterparts
- Stronger sense of community in the workplace
- Seasoned employees who mentor apprentices feel an added sense of value
- Entry-level employees see a clear career path with your company and are less likely to leave for another opportunity
- Financial resources: state and federal programs provide support to registered apprenticeships in the forms of tax credits, funds for related expenses, and possible wage reimbursement
- A survey of businesses with apprenticeship programs found that 97% would recommend an apprenticeship to others
Additional resources for understanding the return on investment of apprenticeship can be found here.
Partnering with FVCC gives your apprentice access to the most current instruction in the field and provides them with additional resources and support that increase the success of the apprenticeship. FVCC’s Apprenticeship Coordinator provides a concierge-like service to both you, the employer, and the apprentice, ensuring the needs of everyone involved are met, timely progress is made, and proper documentation isn’t overlooked. Through FVCC’s Apprenticeship Program, your business benefits from:
- Outreach and recruiting assistance
- Access to future talent via FVCC Pre-Apprenticeship programs in high schools
- One-on-one support for the apprentice as they progress through the apprenticeship
- Optional mentor training and support
What are my obligations?
As the employer, your obligations to an apprentice do not differ much than obligations to any employee. Apprenticeship is an employer designed and driven training program, so you decide what works best for you and your business. You and the apprentice agree to the terms of the apprenticeship and employment, including length of apprenticeship, wage scale, probationary period, and apprentice responsibilities and expectations. Employers can choose to provide the apprentice with financial assistance for educational costs or to use work hours to attend class. It is up to you, the employer. At any point during the program, an employer can terminate the apprenticeship and employment of the apprentice. The required obligations of the employer are:
- Pay the apprentice on a progressive wage scale conditional to the apprentice advancing in skills and competencies
- Provide a mentor to guide the apprentice, provide feedback, and sign off on progress reports
- Complete the Apprenticeship Standards to register the apprenticeship program with the State of Montana’s Registered Apprenticeship department
What kind of administrative work or paperwork is required?
There are three documents required for a registered apprenticeship: Apprenticeship Standards and Training Schedules, Apprenticeship Agreements, and Monthly Progress Reports.
The Apprenticeship Standards and Training Schedules is a document that contains the parameters of the program, including time, competencies, wage progression, and training curriculum, which is then filed with the Montana Department of Labor and Industry.
The Apprenticeship Agreements are the individual agreements between you, the employer, and the apprentice, showing that the apprentice understands and accepts the training requirements of the program.
Monthly Progress Reports are simply the tracking of hours and skill progression of the apprentice. It is the responsibility of the apprentice to maintain these records, however, the employer or mentor must sign off on the progress reports, verifying the information is accurate.