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CEDS Interview on the Workforce with Anne Banks

Anne Banks is the Apprenticeship Program Manager at the Community College System of NH.

REDC recently spoke with Anne Banks, the apprenticeship program manager for the Community College System of New Hampshire. We talked with her about ApprenticeshipNH and the work they are doing to build a sustainable work force.

REDC: What are the biggest barriers for an employer to retain a quality workforce?

Anne: I think one of the biggest barriers employers face in retaining a quality workforce is the lack of clear communication of the career pathways available within their organization. As young people and career changers look for alternatives to a four-year traditional college path, they're looking for ways to get in the door [of an organization or company] and be working and moving their way through a company, while maybe getting some more education.

A solution for that barrier could be developing stackable registered apprenticeship programs, because that allows somebody to enter into the [organization] at an entry level, and then [the program] lays the path for the next steps within that organization as to how to move forward within that company, making them committed to that company and that career.

It also helps on the employer side, allowing the company to take a step back and see what skills are transferable from one department to another.

REDC: In what sector or sectors do you see the biggest need for apprenticeship training?

Anne: There is no one biggest sector that needs apprenticeship; they all need apprenticeship. We have critical shortage areas across the state. Healthcare, education, early childhood education, all of these come to mind as soon as you ask where the workforce shortages are. But the reality is everybody needs registered apprenticeship. There's a need [for companies] to start growing their own workforce.

Two men in factory

REDC: What is a misconception about the current state of the workforce you'd like to share?

Anne: I feel there are three misconceptions right now with the workforce. The first is that employers are going to be able to solve [workforce shortages] independently and on their own. The second is that some employers believe that nobody wants to work anymore. And from an employee standpoint, there is the misconception that employers are only out for themselves and nobody cares about them.

There's this misconception out there that employers are going to be able to solve their own workforce issues without the help of others. What needs to happen is industry leaders have to come together to the table within their sectors and help develop the talent that they need. They have to start working with their community partners and education providers to develop that system of a talent pipeline into not just their company, but into the occupations that are needed to make that industry grow.

The second misconception is that nobody wants to work anymore. However, there are people out there who desperately want to be working. They don't necessarily have the skills that are listed in job descriptions. So, in order to bridge that connection, employers have to be willing to take employees who are willing to work and give them the chance to learn while working.

Another misconception is that employers are only out for themselves; they're only looking at the bottom line. I can tell you that as part of ApprenticeshipNH, we work with a large number of employers who go above and beyond for every single one of their employees, from full benefits to helping [employees] connect to outside resources that help support them through their program.

Medical staff

REDC: What is a misconception about apprenticeships you’d like to share?

Anne: A big myth about registered apprenticeships is that they are strictly for the trades, which isn't true. We have registered apprenticeships in all sectors from healthcare to I.T. to manufacturing to business and finance. [Apprenticeships] can really be a good fit for any sector.

Additionally, some believe that registered apprenticeships are a heavy lift and complicated to navigate. Although it may feel that way to get it started and off the ground, that's what [ApprenticeshipNH] is here to help with. We help navigate through the whole process.

REDC: Share with us a success story from ApprenticeshipNH.

Anne: I would say that our greatest success has been in the healthcare sector, and even that has evolved. We [originally] had single employers who put together licensed nursing assistants or medical assistant programs. And then we had some key employers band together to work together and build these cohorts out. Additionally, pre-COVID, we had some great success in manufacturing, and now that's starting to come back. We've had some really good success with construction, as well.

REDC's Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS)

This interview took place in March 2023 for the purpose of documenting first-hand perspectives on issues that present the largest obstacles to continued economic growth in our region. REDC's 2023 CEDS Update will be available for free electronically on our CEDS page in late June, 2023.

Part of this interview will be available to watch in a video on REDC's YouTube channel in late June, 2023.


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