In Honor of National Apprenticeship Week, Embrace Apprenticeships in Your Career Conversations

Posted November 8, 2022

For National Apprenticeship Week, observed Nov. 14-20, 2022, educators, industries, workers and employers are celebrating the benefits and successes of apprenticeships.

With continued workforce shortages and increasing wages in skilled trades, it’s important that Kansans understand all their options in choosing a career — just ask Dr. Girard Melancon. He is this year’s keynote speaker at KANSASWORKS' National Apprenticeship Summit, and will present his speech "People, Planet, and Profits Overcome Inertia and Create Opportunities Through Apprenticeships" in Topeka on Nov. 17. 

Melancon has over 25 years of workforce development experience and currently serves as the CEO and founder of Durango Works. Over the course of his career, he has been accountable for teams that have provided more than 100,000 people with necessary skills to embark on new careers. His passion for workforce development is largely the product of two tragic incidents involving a close friend and a close family friend that heavily impacted him during his high school years. Ever since, he has made it his mission to help others by doing everything he can to open up a world of opportunities for them. 

“As a parent or an educator, it’s so important to make sure you are adding the idea of apprenticeships to career conversations with your kids, students, and mentees,” Melancon said. “Apprenticeships create a lot of value for both the employer and the employee. The training helps pave a successful pathway for workers as far as learning the culture and growing with the company. It can also allow the company to better retain those employees and remain nimble within its market and industry.”

As far as advice goes for parents and teachers who want to help their kids and students discover their future career pathways, Melancon recommends a double-skilled approach. “For those who do want to go to college for a four-year business degree, consider using an apprenticeship opportunity as graduate school rather than going straight for the MBA after college.” He says that young people won’t find niches or opportunities by thinking of education as “either/or” — think of it as “and” to remain flexible and increase career opportunities well into the future. 

Registered apprenticeships provide a unique opportunity to train on the job for a skilled trade. Many high-demand industries from construction and transportation to healthcare and manufacturing offer these programs for those 18 and up. According to KANSASWORKS Office of Registered Apprenticeships, there is a 92% employee retention rate and a $72,000 average starting salary after apprenticeship completion.  

For Kansans hoping to become an apprentice, or to learn more about apprenticeships, be sure to visit and look for the red “RA” icon that designates apprenticeship opportunities. Also be sure to check out HirePaths Real Success Stories to see an apprenticeship in action or read this HirePaths blog for more information.