Creating a Highly Skilled Workforce With Professional Apprenticeships

By Jorge Marquez on November 15, 2021 at 4:00pm

I’m Jorge Raphael Marquez, a senior vice president with Robert Half (NYSE: RHI). I’m leading the development of our Apprenticeship & Workforce Innovation (AWI) solutions and the growth of our national government practice. I’m also a founding member of our Hispanic/Latinx Employee Network Group, Somos Familia, and I currently serve on the Los Angeles County Workforce Development Board. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine as a young Mexican American living in the barrio of Chula Vista, next to the trolley tracks and minutes from the U.S.-Mexico border, that I would become the professional I am today.

As the U.S. economy has rebounded from the pandemic, we’ve seen a significant shift in the professional labor market with rapidly changing dynamics in job structures, social needs, technologies and skills. The professional labor gap has widened with the growing economy and higher demand for skilled talent, especially for candidates who have digital skills. The education system has struggled to keep pace with these fast-evolving trends and develop the skilled talent required of employers.

Simultaneously, there are sizable groups of diverse populations that are vastly underrepresented in professional occupations. Employers are under pressure to support diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) in their organizations and meet their environmental, social and governance (ESG) goals by hiring more of these underrepresented professionals. Yet they face critical shortages of diverse talent in the current labor market.

Because Robert Half is a global leader in professional talent solutions, we hear about these challenges firsthand from our clients — from supervisors to senior leadership across all functions of organizations. Attracting and retaining skilled talent is also a hot topic in today’s boardrooms. In fact, C-level executives and directors rank the ability to attract and retain talent as a key risk, according to Protiviti’s Top Risks in 2021: A Global Perspective.

Setting the stage for professional apprenticeships

Employees are now in the driver’s seat, with unemployment in many professional positions at historic lows and numerous options available to job seekers. Companies are increasing compensation, perks and benefits to better attract and retain talent. They’re also investing in their talent acquisition departments and engaging third-party recruiting firms like Robert Half. People are being selective about how they want to work in the new gig economy, whether it’s regular full-time employment, consulting, contracting or freelancing.

At Robert Half, we listen carefully to our clients about their diverse talent needs — and we respond quickly to help them. This has resulted in our company receiving numerous accolades this year, including Forbes’ America’s Best Professional Recruiting Firms, Forbes’ America’s Best Employers for Diversity, Fortune’s World’s Most Admired Companies lists and many others.

Robert Half has also sponsored the Boys & Girls Clubs of America since 1997, empowering employees like me to volunteer at a local level. For over four years, I served on the Advisory Board for the Los Angeles County Alliance for Boys & Girls Clubs, helping to found our Kollab Workforce Development Program, a pre-apprenticeship program registered with the State of California Department of Industrial Relations.

The stage was set for us to consider upskilling, including professional apprenticeships, which we’ll explore in our next post in this five-part series. The “chapters” of our story will include:

  • Making professional apprenticeships work
  • How the government can help
  • Teaming up with higher education and alliances
  • Launching a program

If you are interested in exploring or starting a program for professional apprenticeships at your organization, stay tuned for these future posts to get additional information.

Our AWI Program is part of our Robert Half Government Practice. Please visit the Protiviti Government Services and Robert Half Government page to learn more.

Jorge Marquez
Jorge Marquez
Robert Half is proud to participate in National Apprenticeship Week and be a registered apprenticeship program sponsor with the U.S. Department of Labor and California Department of Industrial Relations. Through this work, we will help companies tap a greater talent base and build a more diverse workforce while providing up-and-coming professionals opportunities to grow their skills, broaden their network and exposure to hiring managers, and advance their careers ...

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