|Photo: Michelle Babbs, an employee at Babes ‘n Tots Childcare Center in Waco, is an apprentice in the first cohort of the Early Education Apprenticeship in Heart of Texas.|
WACO, Texas—It’s National Apprenticeship Week, Nov. 13-19, and Workforce Solutions for the Heart of Texas is celebrating the successes of its apprenticeship programs, including the launch of its new Early Education Apprenticeship (EEA) Program, the first registered apprenticeship of its kind in the Heart of Texas region.
The EEA, developed in partnership with Workforce Solutions for the Heart of Texas and McLennan Community College (MCC), was approved and validated by the U.S. Department of Labor earlier this year. This apprenticeship is a high-quality career pathway where early childhood teachers gain invaluable on-the-job experience while working in a full-time, paid position.
Through the program, apprentices will benefit from one-on-one coaching, up to 15 credit hours at MCC, wage increases, milestone stipends, and Child Development Associate (CDA) Level I and Department of Labor (DOL) certification (upon program completion).
Michelle Babbs, an employee at Babes ‘n Tots Childcare Center in Waco and an apprentice in the first EEA cohort, said on-the-job training has been a key part of her success since the program began in July.
“I believe participating has improved my skill set because I’m able to match theory with real-life experience,” Babbs said. “I’m able to take from what I’m reading in the textbook and see it in my classroom.”
Babbs also said she encourages other aspiring early childhood educators to participate.
“It’s going to teach you how to nurture children and be more mindful of things that may be affecting how they learn, what their environment is outside of the childcare center,” she said. “I recommend it so you get those skills to help children because they’re our future.”
Workforce Solutions for the Heart of Texas Child Care Services currently serves over 2,300 children, and the EEA program is significant to meeting a growing need for highly-skilled childcare teachers among its 101 childcare programs.
“Today’s childcare owners and directors are facing a teacher shortage,” said Julie Talbert, Manager of Child Care Services for Workforce Solutions for the Heart of Texas. “We know the work the industry does is important, but the hourly wage for child care workers is among the lowest of all occupations. Creating an Early Education Apprenticeship program is an opportunity to increase the professionalism of the early childhood workforce and improve the early education of young children.”
Donna Losak, director of Talitha Koum Nurture Center in Waco, one of eight early learning programs participating in the first cohort, agrees with Talbert.
“One of the challenges and needs that we’ve had since the pandemic is just recruiting and hiring staff,” said Losak. “I’m hoping this apprenticeship program will allow me to consider people who don’t have a degree yet who are committed to the field and be able to hire them and get them into the program.”
The program also helps in retaining current staff, which Losak said her center is benefitting from.
“Hosting an apprentice has benefited our program by allowing a staff member…to move into a lead teacher position and get the education she needed to qualify for that position,” said Losak. “It’s going to do nothing but improve the quality of her skills and allow her to be the best teacher she can be.”
Applications for both apprentices and childcare centers for the 2024 cohort will open in early spring. Additional information is available on our EEA web page.
Multi-Craft Core Curriculum (MC3) Pre-Apprenticeship Program
Workforce Solutions for the Heart of Texas is also proud of its successful Multi-Craft Core Curriculum (MC3) Pre-Apprenticeship Program, a grant-funded training that prepares individuals for registered apprenticeship programs in high-demand, skilled trade occupations including electricians, plumbers, carpenters, structural iron and steel workers, sheet metal workers, welders, and heating, air conditioning and refrigeration mechanics and installers.
“The MC3 program is a chance to show young people available careers that they probably never knew existed,” said Craig Miller, IBEW Local 72’s business manager.
John Ford is one of 14 MC3 apprentices who graduated in May, and today, he’s enjoying the experience and benefits of his hard work as a first-year apprentice at CR Meyers in Waco.
“It’s a fantastic opportunity,” he said. “It’s more than what you thought you were coming for. I initially thought it was for plumbing, but we covered electrical work and heavy equipment. It’s a global opportunity.”
“It provides real-world knowledge,” added Ford. “This program has broadened my horizons and has really given me a versatile skill set.”
MC3 is nationally recognized and approved by the North America’s Building Trades Unions (NABTU) and is offered in partnership with Workforce Solutions for the Heart of Texas, MCC, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local Union 72 (IBEW Local 72), and Plumbers and Pipefitters Local Union 529 (UA Local 529). Once complete, participants earn the MC3 Certificate of Completion from NABTU and 120 continuing education credits from MCC. They are then placed into a registered apprenticeship with local employers as full-time paid employees who earn as they learn.
For more information on all Workforce Solutions for the Heart of Texas apprenticeships, on our Apprenticeships web page.
About Workforce Solutions for the Heart of Texas
Workforce Solutions for the Heart of Texas provides comprehensive services for businesses and job seekers in its six-county service area, which includes Bosque, Falls, Freestone, Hill, Limestone, and McLennan counties. Workforce Solutions for the Heart of Texas is one of 28 local workforce development boards under the direction of and funded by the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC).