Kansas Registered Apprenticeships to Now Include Human Resource Professionals

Posted November 15, 2022

While apprenticeship is a centuries old, tried-and-true way to learn a trade, it’s a relatively new way for business and management professionals to earn the credentials they need to launch a career. However, the Kansas Society of Human Resource Management is bringing a new registered apprenticeship program to the state that helps an emerging professional (or you!) launch a new career.

What Does a Registered Apprenticeship in HR look like?

Kansas SHRM is recruiting businesses who are willing to have an apprentice enter an 18- to 24-month program during which they will be paired with an experienced supervisor/mentor working in human resources. The mentor will guide the apprentice as they learn on the job to perform the responsibilities of an HR specialist and complete the program’s web-based, self-study curriculum, which was created by the national SHRM Foundation.

The apprentice must be full time and can be a new or current employee. The program is appropriate for those just getting into the workforce or anyone who lacks the certification and training for a human resources position. The employer handles the selection of the apprentice. SHRM has developed a national curriculum to ensure consistency from state to state, but additions or adjustments to meet an individual company’s needs are welcome.

This program will help people begin a well-paying career without requiring a two- or four-year degree. When apprenticeship is complete, the apprentice will receive an industry-specific, national, portable credential from the US Department of Labor’s Office of Apprenticeship and will be prepared to take the SHRM-CP (certified professional) exam. The only additional expense for the employer is the fee to take the certification exam.

Angela Rogers, SHRM Foundation outreach recruiter, said that what makes this program work is the pairing of an experienced mentor with an apprentice to ensure knowledge transfer between the two.

“Research shows that mentorship is a key component of any apprentice’s success,” Rogers said.

Why Is This Program Needed?

Doris Queen, director of compensation and benefits for WSU Tech, said that, like professionals in many other fields that have been stressed from the pandemic and workforce shortages, many HR professionals are suffering from burnout or are on the cusp of aging out of the workforce. Because every business needs professionals who know not only employment law and best practices but who also can oversee the management of people, the need for new certified professionals to enter the field is high.

“The way HR operates today is changing. It’s not just about handling personnel paperwork. It’s also about what it takes to retain employees, create a healthy workplace and give employees what they need to be successful,” Queen said. “We must bring younger people into the field or help more established professionals retool for a second career.”

In addition, employers who are searching for ways to meet their diversity, equity and inclusion goals will find apprenticeship a key tool for success. An apprenticeship program eliminates the need for a degree, thereby expanding the possible talent pool. Apprenticeship programs also have a high return of investment because of better retention rates and a favorable wage scale. Federal and state dollars may also be available to offset an employer’s costs.

Natalie Bright, executive administrator of Kansas SHRM, said another upside of the program is that it shows HR professionals just how successful apprenticeships can be at teaching all types of workers valuable workplace skills. Increasing the number of apprentices across Kansas industries will be key to filling vacant positions and growing the size of our workforce.

“Apprenticeships are an important part of training and recruitment today, and we see this apprenticeship with the SHRM Foundation to be just the beginning,” Bright said. “We’re going to continue to see programs like this pop up in many other industries.”

Want to Help or Learn More?

Kansas SHRM has local affiliate chapters throughout the state that will be actively involved in identifying potential regional employers who either may already have employees who would be a good fit for this program, or who would be willing to hire potential new employees.

Until someone is hired as an official program lead, Queen will oversee efforts to start the Kansas program. She hopes to have someone in place by January 2023. If this job opportunity piques your interest, visit: https://ksshrm.org/jobs/job/kansas-state-council-shrm-kansas-hr-apprenti....

In the meantime, businesses or employees who are interested in learning more about the Human Resource Registered Apprenticeship Program should contact Queen at dqueen@wsutech.edu. Learn more about other opportunities to participate in a registered apprenticeship in Kansas at: https://www.kansascommerce.gov/workforce/kansasregisteredapprenticeship/.