Apprenticeships are a time-tested way to gain skills on the job, but they’re also evolving as economies have brought demand for new kinds of trades — and a rise of new kinds of programs to bolster specific fields. This shift has also brought a focus as a pathway to opportunity for underrepresented groups.
Those considerations are at play with a new program from OST Global Solutions: The Rockville-based company is launching an initiative specifically for business development at government-facing firms. And while it is open to all, OST is prioritizing women, minorities and veterans.
The program is now a registered apprenticeship, with official approval by the State of Maryland. While it’s among a number of programs teaching specific trades operating in the state, officials said this one is the first of its kind in the country.
News of the approval came during National Apprenticeship Week. With applications opened, the program starts in January 2020.
OST’s program “helps ensure that Maryland remains a trailblazer in creating innovative and nontraditional programs that expand professional opportunities for Maryland workers,” said Christopher MacLarion, director of apprenticeship and training with the Maryland Department of Labor’s division of workforce development and adult learning.
In this case, it also has a direct tie to the local economy: With a heavy federal presence, Maryland is home to plenty of government contractors. While many larger or midsize firms will offer their own training, OST Global Solutions CEO Olessia Smotrova said small businesses typically lack those resources. Professionals from the firms can participate in the apprenticeship while they are working, creating an “earn and learn opportunity,” Smotrova said.
“This program has that rigor where they stand to compete a lot better in government contracting and stand to compete with large businesses,” she said. This means a focus “across the entire life cycle of business development.”
For the apprentices, the program offers a 160-hour curriculum centered around the different phases of winning work government: finding and building a pipeline of potential opportunities, positioning for opportunities ahead of a solicitation, and developing a winning proposal when that chance to bid arrives. It’s a mix of classroom time, self study and also includes mentorship and professional work inside the employers.
And with approval that meets the rigors of the state department of labor’s regulations, the program can expand beyond Maryland, as well.