Oklahoma Office of Workforce Development (OOWD) is offering incentive grants to develop new apprenticeship programs.

Individual employers are eligible for grants up to $10,000. Grantees who apply as an employer consortium are eligible for grants up to $15,000. Applicants applying as a consortium should consist of two or more employers who are committed to creating an apprenticeship program within the same occupation and according to the same apprenticeship standards, such as pay, length of program and minimum requirements.

According to a press release, OOWD "believes that registered apprenticeship serves as a crucial tool for employers to build their own talent pipelines and creates high-wage, in-demand job opportunities for Oklahomans."

Research indicates more than 70% of jobs in Oklahoma will require some kind of education or training beyond high school in the next 10 years, but only 42% of the current workforce meet that demand, according to OOWD.

"To address this skills gap, employers across all industries are increasingly turning to registered apprenticeship as a workforce development solution," according to OOWD. "To support employers and industry partners in creating effective registered apprenticeship programs (RAP), OOWD is pleased to invite you to apply for apprenticeship incentive grants to establish new apprenticeship programs registered with the U.S. Department of Labor."

Competitive applications will be employer-led, clearly demonstrate a talent pipeline need in a specific occupation, and partner with their local workforce board. Strong applications will also demonstrate an educational plan for the proposed apprenticeship through a partnership with a K-12 school, local Career and Technical Education provider, community college or university, or expert in-house training.

OOWD is accepting grant applications on a rolling basis. Grantees will be required to register an apprenticeship program with U.S. Department of Labor within three months of receiving the award. Applicants will find a list of apprenticeable occupations, as identified by the U.S. Department of Labor, at https://www.doleta.gov/oa/occupations.cfm.

Grantees will be required to report detailed apprentice data quarterly to OOWD.

For more information, contact Megan Scott, OOWD project manager, at megan.scott@okcommerce.gov, or call (405) 215-2801.

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Neal is health, military affairs and religion reporter and columnist for the Enid News & Eagle. Follow him on Twitter, @jamesnealwriter, and online at jamesrneal.com.
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