Maryland Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Douglas F. Gansler is proposing a major expansion of apprenticeship programs in the state, with the aim of creating “a pipeline to middle-class jobs” open to students as young as 16 and in a broader array fields than exists now.
Gansler’s plan, which would rely heavily on cooperation from the private sector to succeed, is outlined in the second installment of a video series called “Front & Center” that he is producing with his running mate, Del. Jolene Ivey (D-Prince George’s).
Gansler, the state’s attorney general, says in the new video that the idea is to offer hands-on skills training for which students could earn high school credits. Upon graduating, students who took that route would also receive a “certificate of completion” attesting to the job-ready skill they had mastered.
The plan, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Post on Wednesday, is designed both to provide a path for students not necessarily inclined to attend a four-year college and to better connect Maryland employers with future workers.
“Say, for example, you’re a 16-year-old in high school, and you’re fascinated by computer science, you want to learn more about computer programming and how networks work,” Gansler says in the two-minute video. “Or maybe it’s cars you love, and you want to learn more about auto mechanics and the auto industry.”
According to Gansler, the apprenticeship programs would be run by private employers, employer associations and labor management organizations, which would be expected to bear the costs in return for the promise of getting skilled workers. The employers would have to work with the Maryland State Department of Education to ensure they meet certain standards.
Gansler’s plan provides no sense of how many students might participate. An important facet, it says, would be “effectively marketing and communicating the initiative to business, civic and local community leadership.”
Currently, employers and organizations that register with the state can run apprenticeship programs that are geared mostly toward those 18 and older, according to Gansler’s campaign. Most of the existing programs focus on construction and the building trades. Gansler said he envisions the creation of apprenticeships in engineering, biosciences, information and biotechnology, health care and many other industries.
Gansler, a former Montgomery County state’s attorney, faces Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown (D) and Del. Heather R. Mizeur (D-Montgomery) in the June primary.