As the nation marks the seventh annual National Apprenticeship Week (NAW), leaders of industry, labor, equity, workforce, education, and government are hosting events around the nation to promote the importance of the role registered apprenticeships play in rebuilding the economy.

Registered apprenticeships are structured training programs that allow businesses to effectively track and monitor the gaining of skills that workers need for businesses to remain competitive. As training programs registered with the U.S. Department of Labor, registered apprenticeships bring together industry in the development of national standards while ensuring both the safety and welfare of participating apprentices.

“Apprenticeships ensure our economy has a highly skilled workforce that is able to maintain its competitive edge in the global marketplace,” says a spokesperson for the DOL’s Employment and Training Administration. “They also increase opportunities for Americans to attain careers in a growing number of industries to earn good wages to support themselves and their families.”

Registered apprenticeships can help maintain workplace retention rates up to 94%, according to Maggie Berkey, CBET, a member of AAMI’s Technology Management Council. For companies that participate in the program, tax credit and U.S. Department of Labor support may also be available.

The pandemic caused a 12% decline in new registered apprentices in fiscal year 2020 compared to the year before. Even with this decline, the 2020 numbers were the third-highest numbers ever reported for the DOL’s Registered Apprenticeship system. More than 630,000 individuals participated last year. Many apprenticeship training providers pivoted to adopt virtual training delivery methods for apprentices, particularly related to technical training.

A Good Workforce Solution

Offering a registered apprenticeship program is a good workforce solution for ReNew Biomedical, a Tennessee-based medical device repair company. Two years ago, when it sought out qualified technicians for its ISO Certified team, the company realized many biomedical experts were aging out of the industry with not enough new talent in the pipeline. ReNew sought help from the Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation (AAMI) which works with the DOL to help set up, manage, and monitor registered apprenticeships.

Jill Taylor, co-owner and managing partner, ReNew Biomedical (Photo: ReNew Biomedical)

“We knew that there wouldn’t be enough time to adequately train professionals to handle the amount of complicated medical machinery in the marketplace,” says Jill Taylor, ReNew’s co-owner and managing partner. “AAMI agreed to partner with ReNew to create their first official, AAMI-recognized apprenticeship program for certifying health care technology managers in the U.S. It was then that we decided to put forth considerable effort in developing quality technicians for our industry.“

ReNew’s registered apprenticeship is a two-year program that combines online and classroom education with on-the-job learning. Participants can earn industry-recognized credentials: Certified Associate in Biomedical Technology (CABT), Certified Biomedical Equipment Technician (CBET), and CompTIA IT Fundamentals (ITF+) certification. Upon successful completion of the apprenticeship, employees also receive a journeyman certificate from AAMI and the DOL.

Opportunity for Existing Talent

Dustin Dinkins was already employed with ReNew when the apprenticeship opportunity came along. He has just completed the first phase of the registered apprenticeship program by earning his CABT certification.

Dustin Dinkins, CABT-certified, ReNew Biomedical (Photo: ReNew Biomedical)

“The classroom training coupled with the ability to get hands-on experience is really geared toward my learning style,” Dinkins says. “Being able to listen and learn from a CBET-certified biomed during class is great, and then to go and immediately apply that knowledge hands-on with real equipment is such an amazing opportunity.”

Landing a Career

Dinkins’ coworker Caleb Barber earned his CABT, as well and is now working towards his CBET.

“This opportunity fell into my lap, actually,” Barber says. “A friend offered me a position as a base level tech when I was searching for a new career opportunity. What I thought was just going to be a job turned into a lifelong career that I’m striving to be successful in. I have mechanical background which made biomed work a great transition. I’ve come to really enjoy the fulfilling work along with building a career with this company.”

Caleb Barber, CBET-certified, ReNew Biomedical (Photo: ReNew Biomedical)

For participants like Dinkins, joining his company’s flagship training program is paving the way for job growth and career progression in the industry. Both he and Barber have guaranteed employment at ReNew.

“I have always been intrigued with working on small electronics. After learning about the biomed field, it was easy to figure out that this would be a great opportunity. I have the ability to work on electronics, but the deciding factor is I get to work on something that is going to save someone’s life someday,” Dinkins says.