Make Apprenticeship Simpler: Bhavani Arabandi
Patrick Cushing, Bhavani Arabadi
April 25, 2024

Changing the Game: How Apprenticeships Can Be More Accessible and Valued

Welcome back to Workhands Space! In today's interview, we explored the transformative potential of apprenticeships with Bhavani Arabadi, a seasoned labor sociologist. Bhavani emphasized the urgent need to shift our educational narratives, moving away from the 'college-for-all' mindset to embrace diverse career pathways through apprenticeships. We discussed the vital role of teachers in guiding students from as early as middle school and the importance of continuous, multi-source advocacy to change perceptions truly. Together, we're working on redefining success, from caps and gowns to hands-on skills in cybersecurity, healthcare, and advanced manufacturing.

Speaker Bio

Linkedin Profile: Bhavani Arabandi

Bhavani Arabadi has always been a transformative figure in the sphere of education. After many years as a dedicated college professor, Bhavani became acutely aware of the barriers preventing many students from thriving in an academic environment. Recognized for her deep understanding of educational inequities, Bhavani noted that many of her students were unprepared for the rigors of college, not necessarily due to a lack of ambition or capability but because of systemic deficiencies in their schooling experiences. These often stemmed from under-resourced school districts that failed to provide the necessary academic groundwork. Moreover, Bhavani observed that many students also faced financial challenges that further hindered their educational progress.

Driven by a firm belief that the narrative surrounding 'college for all' needed an essential reformation, Bhavani has since been an outspoken advocate for systemic change in education. Her vision is of a future where all students, regardless of their economic or social background, receive the preparation and support they need to succeed in higher education and beyond.


  • Insights on Modern Apprenticeships: "I'm a labor sociologist by training and have worked in apprenticeship for about seven years now, first at the Department of Labor as a program analyst, and then now at Urban Institute in various capacities."— Bhavani Arabadi 00:00:1400:00:29

  • Rethinking College Preparedness: "I've been a college professor myself, and I found a lot of students that are in my classroom are actually not prepared for college in several different ways. One, they lack the preparation academically. You know, they might be in school districts that, you know, might not have the resources and do not have the recommended, like the rigorous training for students."— Bhavani Arabadi 00:01:0900:01:33

  • Challenges Facing College Students: "Like, I had a student who was working three jobs while in college full time. Like, how do you expect this, this young person to pay attention to anything that you're doing in classroom?"— Bhavani Arabadi 00:01:3700:01:47

  • Exploring Apprenticeships Beyond Traditional Trades: "It has to come consistently from several sources, I think. And students themselves need to be exposed to apprenticeships in a way where they know it's not just the trades."— Bhavani Arabadi 00:02:3500:02:51

  • Exploring Alternative Educational Paths: "So I think there's a lot of awareness raising that college for all is not the only thing to do, but also, like, apprenticeship has lots of career opportunities."— Bhavani Arabadi 00:03:1300:03:24

  • Rethinking Career Education in Schools: "I guess I would expose the teachers at the school at much earlier levels, like, even from middle school to high school, expose them to apprenticeship and other opportunities so then they can advise students in a lot of, how do you say, turning points at students thinking about apprenticeship, about career choices and things like that."— Bhavani Arabadi 00:04:0000:04:53

  • Impact of Initiatives: "I think I would start there. I'm not saying it would, but it would, I think, make the deepest impact as well."— Bhavani Arabadi 00:04:5400:05:02


1. Redefining societal views on higher education

2. Challenges faced by financially strapped students

3. Importance of multiple sources advocating change

4. Expanding awareness of diverse apprenticeship opportunities

5. Changing teachers' roles in career guidance

6. Revising school success metrics beyond college

7. Visual representation and perceptions of success

Debby Hopkins
Apprenticeship Programs: The Struggle with Diverse Funding Sources
Patrick Cushing, Debbie Hopkins
May 1, 2024

Apprenticeship Programs: The Struggle with Diverse Funding Sources

Welcome to another episode of Workhands Interviews! Today, we're joined by Debbie Hopkins from Appteon Inc, a company deeply engaged in IT services and registered apprenticeship programs across the United States. In this episode, Debbie delves into the complexities and challenges of managing funding and tracking data for apprenticeship programs that deal with a variety of stakeholders, including the Federal Government. She discusses the difficulties her clients face, from small employers to large group sponsors, in navigating the diverse requirements of different states and funding sources. These complexities not only involve varying state laws and grants but also the demanding task of reporting and performance metrics required by these programs. So join hosts Patrick Cushing and Debbie Hopkins as they explore the intricate web of funding apprenticeships in America, and discuss potential solutions to streamline these processes for better efficiency and effectiveness.

Speaker Bio

Meet Debbie Hopkins, a dynamic professional who currently leads the innovative team at Appteon Inc, a prominent IT company that specializes in serving federal government departments across the United States. Debbie has expertly positioned AppDeon not just as a technology provider, but also as a registered apprenticeship intermediary under the US Department of Labor. Under her guidance, Appteon Inc has flourished, supporting both burgeoning and established employers through a robust network that includes over 150 partner companies.

A key challenge that Debbie tackles head-on is solving the complex issues many employers face—ranging from nascent startups to large group sponsors—particularly around managing funding, compliance with requirements, and data reporting within the apprenticeship programs. Debbie’s leadership shines as she navigates these problems, continually seeking innovative solutions that enhance the support Appteon Inc offers to its diverse client base, thereby reinforcing the company’s commitment to excellence and client satisfaction.


Workforce Development Challenges: "And one of the biggest issues that we have from a very small employer who is just starting to some of these large group sponsors is how to keep track of the funding, the sources, the requirements, how to report their data. This doesn't seem to fit in anything really existing well today, and it's quite a burden for our clients."— Debbie Hopkins 00:00:3300:00:57

Navigating Multistate Apprenticeship Programs: "You have to register your program in those states, even if you have a national program. Each one of those states has their own state expansion grant."— Debbie Hopkins 00:01:2300:01:32

Challenges of Funding Apprenticeships in the U.S.: "And because the country still does not fund registered apprenticeship the way it is in other countries, our sponsors are forced to braid funding, trying to follow co enrollment guidance as best they can."— Debbie Hopkins 00:02:3700:02:49

Innovations in Apprenticeship Funding: "But assuming that that's not going to happen or happen anytime soon, some sort of universal, perhaps software that anybody could use to braid these funds to track apprentice progression, perhaps even a learning management system if they're."— Debbie Hopkins 00:03:2200:03:40


  1. Challenges in federal funding management

  2. Multiplicity of funding sources and criteria

  3. State-specific apprenticeship registration requirements

  4. Varied funding reporting obligations

  5. Braiding funding for apprenticeship programs

  6. Need for unified funding management software

  7. Advantages of a comprehensive learning management system

Interview With Cory Blaylock
Patrick Cushing, Cory Blaylock
May 1, 2024

Bridging the Gap in Apprenticeship Regulations Across States

Welcome back to another episode of Workhands Interview! Today, host Patrick Cushing sits down with Cory Blaylock, Director of Workforce Partnerships at IPC International, an influential trade association for electronics manufacturers. With her rich experience in apprenticeship programs, both from her current role at IPC and her previous tenure at Lockheed Martin, Cory offers well-versed insights into the complexities of managing apprenticeship programs nationally. The discussion pivots around the recent implementation of IPC's national program standards and explores the challenges of streamlining apprenticeship documentation, compliance, and recruitment across different state regulations. Cory also shares her thoughts on simplifying these processes for employers and training providers, emphasizing the need for a uniform system to facilitate apprenticeships better nationwide. Join us as we delve into the intricate world of workforce training and what it could mean for the future of the electronics manufacturing industry across the United States.

Speaker Bio


Cory Blaylock Linkedin Profile | Website: IPC.ORG

A progressive vision has marked Cory Blaylock's career in workforce training and development. Formerly with Lockheed Martin, Cory managed an apprenticeship program, where she gained firsthand experience and identified key areas for enhancement in apprenticeship initiatives. Her critical observation centered on overcoming operational challenges such as cumbersome documentation and the need for streamlined organizational tools.

Eager to enhance the effectiveness and accessibility of such programs, Cory focused on making apprenticeship training easily adoptable by any employer, regardless of size. She saw the value in simplifying the documentation process, which she adeptly managed by incorporating WorkHands, a tool that centralized and simplified record maintenance. This eradicated the need for manual spreadsheet maintenance and eliminated the complex setup of customized systems like SharePoint from scratch.

Cory further leveraged the data from WorkHands to streamline compliance, especially with national program standards critical for maintaining a program's good standing. Her innovations allowed seamless adaptability with RAPIDS, enhancing compliance management, making the process more efficient, and facilitating broader implementation across different states. Cory’s dedication is rooted in a firm belief in the power of structured apprenticeship programs to train and prepare a skilled workforce efficiently. Through her efforts, Cory has contributed substantially to improving operational efficiency and regulatory compliance in workforce development programs.


Industry Leadership in Electronics Manufacturing: "IPC International, which is the international trade association for Electronics Manufacturers. We have over 3200 members worldwide."— Cory Blaylock 00:00:1300:00:21

National Program Standards Initiated: "So we actually celebrated the official signing of our national program standards in November of 2023."— Cory Blaylock 00:00:4900:00:58

Streamlining Apprenticeship Management: "This was very easy to implement as far as the documentation goes of tracking and managing apprenticeships."— Cory Blaylock 00:02:1300:02:20

Navigating Employment Laws Across States: "So working with multiple states and multiple employers across the US is a little difficult and challenging simply because every state has its own rules and guidelines."— Cory Blaylock 00:03:1300:03:27

Navigating State Training Provider Lists: "Trying to be added to eligible training provider lists at the state level have been, I don't want to say seamless, but making the request. Some of the states have different requirements and guidelines that have to be provided for and so having the addition to that list is important."— Cory Blaylock 00:04:2500:04:47

Standardizing Employment Protocols: "I think that just having a standardized protocol and process that every state inherently abides by, so that it would make it easier for both employers that have production facilities across the US, as well as sponsors who may have ability to work with employers across the US, easy."— Cory Blaylock 00:05:5700:06:40


1. Complexity of state-specific apprenticeship regulations.

2. Documentation management in apprenticeship programs.

3. Importance of national program standards compliance.

4. Challenges of multi-state apprenticeship program management.

5. Simplifying apprenticeship processes for wider adoption.

6. Integration of apprenticeship programs in educational systems.

7. Standardized protocols for national program consistency.

Zach Boren
From Challenges to Solutions: Zach Boren on Streamlining Apprenticeships
Patrick Cushing, Zach Boren
May 1, 2024

From Challenges to Solutions: Zach Warren on Streamlining Apprenticeships

Welcome to another episode of Workhands Interview. In today's discussion, Patrick Cushing, our host, sits down with Zach Boren, a senior policy program manager at the Urban Institute with a rich background in apprenticeships. Zach brings a wealth of experience from his tenure at the Office of Apprenticeship in Washington, DC, where he focused on modernizing and simplifying the apprenticeship process to make it more accessible and manageable for both employers and apprentices.

Throughout the episode, Zach delves into the complexities of the apprenticeship system, emphasizing the critical need for improved customer support for employers and better utilization of intermediaries to facilitate the creation and registration of apprenticeship programs. They explore various strategies to reduce the burden on employers, enhance the educational components of apprenticeships, and address the funding disparities compared to traditional higher education.

Tune in as we unpack the challenges and innovative solutions aimed at making apprenticeships a more integral and recognized part of workforce development in the United States.

Speaker Bio

Zach Boren is an ardent advocate for modernizing and improving the accessibility of apprenticeship programs in the United States. Recognizing the gap in awareness and underutilization of these programs, Zach has dedicated his career to enhancing the support system for employers interested in initiating apprenticeships. He has observed that historically, the process of setting up apprenticeships was predominantly informal and often required personal interactions with state directors or specific representatives. This obscure system led to a general lack of recognition for apprenticeships as a viable career learning path.

In his pursuit to elevate the apprenticeship model, Zach emphasizes the importance of simplifying the initiation process for these programs, aiming to make it more straightforward and accessible. He credits the Office of Apprenticeship for making significant improvements over the past decade in streamlining procedures and increasing support. Zach's forward-thinking approach involves continuous dialogue and strategic innovations to further refine the customer experience in starting apprenticeship programs, enabling more organizations to easily integrate these valuable learning opportunities into their operations.


Revitalizing Apprenticeships: "I think the number one thing I would focus on is the customer support for employers that want to start apprenticeships."— Zach Boren 00:01:2400:01:35

Exploring Modern Apprenticeships: "It's how do you want apprentices to learn on the job? What do you want them to do very well? And then what can they learn in the classroom to learn that very well, along with a mentor?"— Zach Boren 00:03:3900:03:54

Transforming Workplace Training: "I think that's really the best way to go about doing that work, is to be able to design a program, sell it to an employer, organize it, and then quickly register it."— Zach Boren 00:04:1600:04:30

Enhancing Job Training Efficiency: "So, hey, we're going to take care of your on the job training, we're going to take care of your related instruction, and we'll take care of the paperwork."— Zach Boren 00:05:3500:05:44

Challenges in Expanding Apprenticeship Programs: "So the challenge for government at this moment, I think, is to figure out how do we bring parity in between what we invest in, in education?"— Zach Boren 00:07:4100:07:53

Challenges of Implementing Apprenticeship Programs: "We see a lot of employers who start up programs, they have trouble kind of getting it going because they don't have that deep knowledge on how to train an employee. It's not built into their DNA just yet."— Zach Boren 00:08:2300:08:39

Investing in Future Workforces: "It's important to grasp that that has a system that really works and invest 2 billion a year into union based apprenticeships."— Zach Boren 00:10:1400:10:27

Investing in Apprenticeships: National Necessity: "We spend on par that in our higher education system, but we've not yet got there on the apprenticeship system."— Zach Boren 00:12:2700:12:35

Innovating Apprenticeship Programs: "When we look across at international models that have worked over decades, they all pay for the instruction that apprentices receive. And so if that's free and that's available, and it's available in whatever occupation you're selecting, you know, let's say it's paid for through community colleges or it's paid for through an online platform, or maybe a multitude of options for employers, which there probably should be multiple options."— Zach Boren 00:13:5800:14:35

Challenges in Apprenticeship Programs: "Completion rates are still below 50% and we've not yet cracked the nut on how do we get, if we're doing all these big starts of new apprenticeship programs? We have hundreds of thousands of new starts of apprentices, but then half of the system gets left in the dust bin because we didn't figure out how to maintain for costs, for questions that remain unresolved, or the technical assistance that a program really needs over the lifetime, then I think we'll continue to have challenge really getting to the scale that we want."— Zach Warren 00:15:1900:16:56


  1. Simplifying employer apprenticeship initiation.

  2. Importance of enhanced customer support.

  3. Role of intermediaries in apprenticeships.

  4. Funding and cost challenges.

  5. Apprenticeships in non-union sectors.

  6. International comparisons in apprenticeship investment.

  7. Improving apprentice completion rates.