NewsOK: Oklahoma City News, Sports, Weather & Entertainment

Point of View: Apprenticeships provide economic solutions

Don Morris
Don Morris

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we work and has had a serious impact on workers in certain industries. During this time of recovery and economic unpredictability, apprenticeships will play an important role in helping Oklahomans find stable employment in well-paid positions.

Apprenticeships are work-based learning programs that help workers gain skills on the job and allow employers to create uniform standards for staff education. Programs like these make a particularly big difference in recruiting for jobs that require unique training. At the Oklahoma Office for Workforce Development, we facilitate new apprentice programs for business owners, help recruit employees to fill those positions and provide grants to help businesses create their own programs. We help create program models for businesses to best capture their specific needs.

Apprenticeship programs are growing in popularity across Oklahoma, and they serve employers and workers equally well. Employers see reduced turnover, less waste and better productivity when they train their staff through apprenticeships. In fact, for every dollar spent on an apprentice program, business owners see an average return of $1.47.

While many jobs within apprentice programs require certain classroom work or certification, people taking on apprenticeships have the benefit of making an income as they train. They are paired with mentors to learn from someone highly experienced in the field who can share insights and experience.

Due to the wide range of apprentice opportunities, education requirements vary, but most programs range from one to six years. At our office, we have helped launch apprentice programs in retail, aerospace, IT, manufacturing, utilities, medical, energy and more. There are vast employment opportunities across a wide range of industries.

Those interested in apprenticeships are equally diverse. We have helped high school juniors graduate into great jobs in technology through concurrent enrollment. Likewise, we have helped with major transitions from one industry to another for experienced professionals with families to support, while maintaining an income through their schooling.

As folks across the state struggle with massive layoffs and business closures, I am encouraged by OOWD’s commitment to helping our state economy and workforce. Through my years as executive director, I have seen so many opportunities opened up to Oklahomans, and I believe our organization can be of great service to our state today. It has been a difficult year for us all, and OOWD hopes to help ease those struggles as much as possible by helping connect Oklahomans to great educational and employment opportunities.

If you or a loved one is seeking new job opportunities or means to make your business more stable, please visit to find out how we can help.

Morris is executive director of the Oklahoma Office for Workforce Development.