John Deere has announced its new Registered Apprenticeship Program after receiving approval from the U.S. Department of Labor and it will be available to all Agriculture & Turf and Construction & Forestry dealers. The program is meant to help address the widespread shortage of service technicians, by providing dealers with a formalized and technical on-the-job training plan to develop more highly skilled employees.
By participating in the program, dealers are committing to the development of new and current talent, that sees them partnered with an experienced mentor who assists in educating them as they work. Apprentices in the program have the consistent opportunity to be rewarded for their newly acquired skills and in turn, these skills also become a major benefit to the dealership and customers. Tim Worthington, customer support manager for the John Deere Construction and Forestry Division had this to say about the numerous benefits available to both dealers and program participants alike.
"Because of the earn-while-you-learn nature of the program, it will help dealers more easily recruit new employees and further develop a highly skilled workforce," Worthington said. "This can improve a dealer's productivity and profit potential as employee turnover costs are reduced and employees are retained longer. In addition, John Deere customers benefit from access to more highly skilled dealer personnel who are servicing or supporting their equipment."
In addition to the core program, participants can select occupations to work in conjunction with the apprenticeship, such as sales and parts professionals, accountants or additional occupations that would complement their training. This provides them the opportunity to explore additional career paths while expanding their technical knowledge and by the end of the program they will receive a nationally recognized journey worker certificate.
The primary differences between this new program and Deere’s current John Deere TECH program are the focus on a simplified training structure and the ability for dealerships to collaborate with any number of organizations. These partnerships are a combination of proprietary, educational and government programs which include but are not limited to; the John Deere TECH Program, K-12 schools, community colleges, labor organizations, economic development groups, foundations, and workforce development boards.
Dealerships can also receive additional support and technical assistance from John Deere and the JFF (Jobs for the Future, a U.S. Department of Labor intermediary) who can expedite the registration process for candidates at the state or federal level. Alongside simplifying the signup process, John Deere has created national guideline standards that “provide a consistent apprenticeship program template that any dealer can implement if they participate," Grant Suhre, director of customer and product support for John Deere Ag & Turf, explained. “By adhering to these standards, dealerships can have a program approved and functioning within a very short timeframe and it can help them maintain the quality and technical support of the apprenticeship.” When apprentices participate, they track and report their on-the-job learning and technical training time alongside their employer. This data is then sent to the appropriate state/federal database to ensure high standards are maintained and helps John Deere further simplify the application and training processes.