RCBI secures $4.5 million for apprenticeship initiative

The Robert C. Byrd Institute (RCBI) at Marshall University has been awarded $4.5 million in federal funding to bolster and expand its national advanced manufacturing apprenticeship partnership.

Apprenticeship Works, the National Advanced Manufacturing Apprenticeship initiative at RCBI, already has assisted manufacturers in 21 states coast to coast, including West Virginia, by helping companies develop and implement customized apprenticeship programs in 20 high-demand advanced manufacturing occupations.

The $4.5 million in new funding is made possible through a congressional spending request secured by U.S. Sens. Shelley Moore Capito and Joe Manchin. It covered the direct cost to employers of establishing apprentices through RCBI.

“I’m excited to see this funding invest in the world-class apprentice programs offered through RCBI at Marshall University,” Capito said. “Last spring, I witnessed firsthand the successes Apprenticeship Works is producing in our state, from opening doors to interested youth and creating second careers for our nation’s veterans.”

Manchin added: “I’m pleased Marshall University has received $4.5 million to continue their apprentice initiative to train West Virginians to compete for good-paying, long-term jobs across the state. I know just how valuable this initiative has been to the university and to the Mountain State as a whole.”

Derek Scarbro, deputy director, said that RCBI will be able to help more manufacturers overcome critical workforce challenges because of the additional funding secured by West Virginia’s U.S. senators.

“Thanks to the strong support of Senators Capito and Manchin, who have taken time to learn firsthand about the impacts of RCBI’s innovative workforce initiatives, we will continue to expand our nationwide advanced manufacturing apprenticeship program to meet the needs of manufacturers, including companies large and small here in West Virginia. Our flexible apprenticeship model has helped manufacturers in 21 states overcome workforce challenges and develop the skilled talent they need to prosper.”

Apprenticeship Works began in 2016 after the U.S. Department of Labor heralded RCBI’s hybrid apprenticeship model as one that should be replicated nationwide. The DOL, in turn, provided funding to launch the initiative. RCBI’s model program makes apprenticeships more affordable for employers and more accessible to employees and individuals seeking careers in manufacturing.

The DOL registered apprenticeships combine standardized, industry-endorsed online technical instruction with in-person training. This approach ensures quality, affordable training that can be scaled across multiple company locations. It also enables companies to develop apprenticeships that meet their specific needs at a pace that suits them, while providing apprentices with opportunities for career advancement and the ability to earn a college degree.

To encourage underrepresented groups to consider careers in advanced manufacturing, Apprenticeship Works also focuses on recruiting women, military veterans and disadvantage youth through a related pre-apprenticeship program. Participants receive intense, short-term training that prepares them for entry-level manufacturing jobs and the opportunity to become full apprentices.

Since 2016, with the help of its partners – which include America Makes, the National Additive Manufacturing Institute; the National Coalition of Advanced Technology Centers; Tooling U-SME, A2T2; West Virginia Women Work; and Job Corps, Apprenticeship Works has delivered skill sets, training and credentials to more than 750 apprentices and 470 pre-apprentices.

West Virginia companies and organizations that have participated in Apprenticeship Works include AHF Products of Beverly, Alcon in Huntington, Europtec in Clarksburg, Gestamp in South Charleston, the Green Bank Observatory in Green Bank, Kanawha Manufacturing in Charleston, Level 1 Fasteners in Huntington and Weyerhaeuser in Buckhannon and Sutton, to name a few.

To learn more Apprenticeship Works, visit RCBI’s website at www.mfg.marshall.edu/apprenticeships or contact Carol Howerton, senior strategic advisor for workforce development, at or 304.781.1690.

Jan. 27, 2023

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