With back-to-school season in full swing, more Arizonans than ever are choosing registered apprenticeship programs over the more traditional 4-year college degree path. The Arizona Department of Economic Security (DES) Registered Apprenticeship (RA) Program has hundreds of available apprenticeship programs available throughout the state in almost every occupation for job seekers who want to “earn as they learn” a vocation they’ll utilize for a life-long career.
Recent DES RA graduate, Antonio Balderas-Tena, said college wasn’t effective for him. “I did go to college, but I was having a hard time going to school while working a part-time job that had nothing to do with what I wanted to do as a career,” said Balderas-Tena. “Anything I could find without experience didn’t pay enough to survive on. So when I began my apprenticeship program, it changed my life.”
Many students find they are more apt to learn outside of a classroom setting, and the hands-on approach that a RA offers helps them be more successful than with school alone. Balderas-Tena says that he would recommend apprenticeships to high school graduates because a trade gives workers skills that college may not.
The Arizona RA program combines on-the-job training with classroom instruction to immerse apprentices in a thorough and hands-on approach to learning a vocation or trade. Upon completion of a RA program, apprentices earn nationally-recognized certificates in their field as skilled and highly desirable workers.
Balderas-Tena, who now works as a certified electrician says that getting paid during his apprenticeship helped him focus solely on his new career.
“The apprenticeship program definitely lends to a more solid career and opened a lot of doors for me,” explained Balderas-Tena. He says that the experience he gained during his apprenticeship makes him more desirable to employers and sets him apart from other job seekers. Once his apprenticeship program was complete, Balderas-Tena was hired by the company for which he worked as an apprentice.
The DES Division of Employment and Rehabilitation Services (DERS), plays an integral role in improving Arizona's workforce by assisting individuals who are unemployed and underemployed, and those with barriers to employment, to prepare for and obtain rewarding employment. For more information about the Arizona Apprenticeship Program, please visit www.AZApprenticeship.com.
By Jillian Seamans