CareerWise Youth Apprenticeship Employer
2022 Colorado Apprenticeship Award Winner in the Employer Category
Pinnacol Assurance has been a tireless and passionate partner in the youth apprenticeship movement since CareerWise Colorado launched its first cohort of youth apprentices in 2017. Now on their sixth cohort, Pinnacol has brought on a total of 63 apprentices. Of those 63, approximately 12 apprentices have been hired into permanent positions with the company in a range of occupations and roles.
Pinnacol chose to hire dedicated staff to manage the apprenticeship program within the company to ensure that the apprentices always had access to coaching, mentorship, supervision, skill development and training, and overall personal, professional, and academic support. Pinnacol’s Apprenticeship team meets weekly with their CareerWise Customer Success manager, and weekly and/or monthly with their primary school district partners as part of their commitment to apprentice success. This business pursues every available opportunity for their apprentices to grow.
To what degree did the employer’s on-the-job learning support the professional growth and skills of the apprentice in the workplace? How did the employer create a positive mentor/supervisory experience to help the apprentices grow?
Pinnacol designed their apprenticeship program in a cohort model in order to foster a team learning environment that builds camaraderie and shared experience among apprentices, particularly important as apprentices are hired from different schools within different school districts. Apprentices begin the program working and training together, developing career-readiness skills and understanding of the company, benefiting from exposure various departments.
Once the apprentice, apprenticeship team, and departments find their natural interest and aptitude fit, apprentices are matched with a trained supervisor and coach. Supervisors and mentors work with apprentices in a competency-based learning structure to identify and understand tasks, complete assignments, manage projects, and develop good work habits. As apprentices reach proficiency in their occupation-specific competencies, supervisors provide additional support related to certification, credentialing, and coursework.
What credentials do apprentices earn (e.g. USDOL credential, OSHA, college credits, etc.)? What essential skills (aka: soft skills) do they attain?
Pinnacol’s apprentices are registered with the USDOL and work to obtain their certificate of completion while also completing an industry-recognized credential or certification relevant to their specific department (ex. Property-Casualty Insurance Fundamentals Certification, IBM Data Science Certification, pathway specific CompTIA credentials, Remote Work certificate), and are offered the opportunity to pursue post-secondary education as well, many earning college credit for coursework related to their occupation. Pinnacol’s apprentices focus on developing proficiency in self-management and advocacy, creativity and adaptability, critical thinking, organization and planning, reliability, cultural competence, relationships and collaboration, and communication.
How has the employer set apprentices up for future career success, either within the company or in external employment?
Pinnacol’s learning design supports technical and workplace readiness skills, career path exploration and exposure to various facets of the business. Pinnacol employs an Apprenticeship Program Facilitator and an Apprenticeship Program Manager whose focus is the support of the apprentices, supervisors, and coaches within the company. Pinnacol understands that while a primary focus of their program is a successful and positive growth experience for apprentices, all staff benefit and grow with dedicated support, ongoing training, and the creation of an internal community of participants, and that this community will grow into a professional network for apprentices long-term.
Pinnacol’s apprenticeship team actively seeks out internal and external opportunities for apprentice engagement, and these opportunities range from testifying on a national level, to speaking on a panel for state leaders, to managing and executing a social media takeover, to presenting at local conferences.
What steps/strategies has the employer taken to increase diversity* and inclusion in apprenticeship?
Pinnacol has a strong internal focus on DEI in the way that they conduct business internally and externally. Pinnacol believes their staff should represent the population they serve and the community in which they are located. Pinnacol participates in the CareerWise Equity First program, allowing them access to specialized training around equitable recruiting, interviewing, and hiring practices.
Over the past six years, Pinnacol has sought out apprentices from different backgrounds and schools, ensuring that those schools which represent underserved populations are included in that pool. Pinnacol’s dedicated apprenticeship team, in partnership with school counselors and CareerWise, have provided support to apprentices in the form of remote work set up to meet health, childcare, and learning needs (even enabling apprentices to work overseas while visiting family), flexible scheduling, inclusive family events, and actively engaging their team in diversity recognition and awareness.