Episode 16: How Apprenticeships are Creating Career Opportunities for Veterans with Disabilities
Nicholas Morgan, President of Adaptive Construction Solutions and military veteran, discusses how he built one of the nation’s most recognized workforce development companies and provided opportunities to high-growth, high-demand jobs for veterans with disabilities through apprenticeship.
Nicholas Morgan: [00:00:00.12] We actually have an HR apprenticeship in our organization that we built for ACS, and I think we’ve done 15 or 16 apprentices that work for ACS. They earned wages, but they got access to some really high-quality training while they were growing and many of which are still with us. And that’s one of the key things employers should be taking away from us is that 93% of apprentices, when they complete their program, they stay with that employer.
Intro: [00:00:30.51] Welcome to the Workology Podcast, a podcast for the disruptive workplace leader. Join host Jessica Miller-Merrell, founder of Workology.com, as she sits down and gets to the bottom of trends, tools and case studies for the business leader, HR and recruiting professional who is tired of the status quo. Now here’s Jessica with this episode of Workology.
Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:00:55.71] This episode of the Workology podcast is sponsored by Upskill HR and Ace the HR Exam. This episode is part of a podcast series powered by the Partnership on Inclusive Apprenticeship or PIA. PIA is funded by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy, or ODEP. In November of 2020, ODEP launched PIA to ensure all apprenticeship programs are inclusive and accessible to people with disabilities. PIA collaborates with employers and apprenticeship programs to help meet employer talent needs and enable people with disabilities to benefit from apprenticeships that increase their opportunities for lifelong access to high growth, high demand jobs. Today, I’m joined by Nick Morgan. He’s the founder and president of Adaptive Construction Solutions Inc., or ACS, one of the most diverse and fastest growing registered apprenticeship programs in the nation. From 2017 to 2021, ACS programs have achieved the highest representation of disabled apprentices among all large programs in the nation. During this period, ACS enrolled more disabled veterans into apprenticeships than all states except California and Nebraska. In addition to being a father of seven, Nick is a combat veteran of the U.S. Army with multiple awards and decorations, including a Bronze Star and Purple Heart. After facing the challenges of transitioning from the armed forces as a disabled veteran, Nick became an entrepreneur in 2007, first establishing a successful insurance agency and, in 2016, founded ACS. Nick is passionate about expanding economic opportunities and mobility through registered apprenticeship programs and other work-based learning opportunities for marginalized positions, especially for individuals with disabilities. Among his public service contributions, Nick is a member of the Texas Workforce Investment Council Apprenticeship and Training Committee, as well as an appointed member of the City of Houston Office of Business Opportunity. Nick, welcome to the Workology Podcast.
Nicholas Morgan: [00:03:02.64] Thank you.
Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:03:04.33] I’m so excited to have you here because of your expertise in so many different areas. Let’s talk about your background a bit as an entrepreneur and then your transition from military service as a disabled veteran.
Nicholas Morgan: [00:03:19.00] Sure. Yeah. I mean, it was, everyone has a, a different story for sure. I think I’ve, no two are identically similar, but we do have an underlying, there’s a consistency amongst many of us that transitioned, which was it’s never what you expect it to be. Right. So, and that’s many things in life. But when you are transitioning from the military, there’s some added challenges because you’re not just leaving your career field or your job. You’re usually being, you’re relocating, you’re having to find a new job. And also, you know, you’re moving from one complete lifestyle and culture and community back into something that you might be familiar with prior to the military. But they aren’t familiar with everything that you’ve gone through. So, you kind of expect that that integration is going to go one way. And I think all of us are surprised it goes quite differently.
Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:04:19.69] Well, I love hearing your story, because as HR professionals, we are thinking about recruiting and hiring different groups of individuals, particularly those who have transitioned out of the military back into the regular workforce. I wanted to talk about ACS, which is adaptive construction solutions. How did that get started?
Nicholas Morgan: [00:04:43.68] So when I left the military the first time, which was in 2004, I went into the insurance business. A few family members, my parents, my brother, everyone seems to own an insurance agency. And then, after about a year and a half, I got that little surprise in the mail. I was being reactivated even though I thought I was done. It was the fine print on the contract, right? I was, I was still fairly young. And at that time, you know, just shortly after September 11th, it’s the young man in me. I was pretty eager to have the opportunity to go serve in this capacity just because in this situation, the country really needed me. It wasn’t just me volunteering. If they’re going to recall people, it was pretty significant. And so, I was in the intel side of the house, of the Army. I was with the 82nd Airborne and spent some time with some intelligence agencies and worked a really cool mission in South Korea. So, when I was mobilized and sent to Iraq, you know, I was kind of thrown into a bigger role than a young staff sergeant would necessarily normally do. And so, while leading the mission in southern Baghdad, I was, I was wounded by what’s called an explosively formed penetrator, a very rare type of roadside bomb that were largely smuggled from Iran into Iraq, that were responsible for killing 600 service members during the first several years of the war.
Nicholas Morgan: [00:06:09.22] When I came home and transitioned, didn’t have, again, the normal transition process. And so, I had to, I had a little bit of a war chest. I actually had saved some money while I was in the military. It’s not easy always to do. And I decided to start my own insurance agency. And over the next several years, really focused on the construction industry. And it was probably in 2015, I started really seeing some trends. I analyzed the worker’s comp injuries of over 1100 claims that I had across numerous construction firms. And the trend that I found was that 84% of the dollars being spent on these claims. 84% of the dollars being spent on these claims were tied to injuries in the first 100 days. I actually brought many of my, my customers together and said, look, you know, how did you learn the industry? You say that you’re, a lot of your leadership in the field is transitioning out of the industry, getting ready to retire. What’s your plan? And they thought they could just continue to compete for those individuals that had the greater skill. In addition, they thought that these, while they always focus on safety, that some of their more to safety focused behaviors were going to fix the work,
Nicholas Morgan: [00:07:38.15] the injury challenges. And they, through this facilitated conversation, they realized they had to do more and they realized they needed to go through something with their team that they went through in the seventies or early eighties, and that was an apprenticeship. Now, I don’t think at that time the word apprenticeship had never left my mouth, but I knew what it was. And after talking to them, what I didn’t expect, leaving that room was that they would say, well, when, when are you going to start? And I was like, What do you mean, when do you start? I’m your insurance agent. Now, we’ll, we’ll, we’ll hire and we’ll support the training and we’ll write some small checks to get you started and we’ll hire a bunch of veterans and others if you give this an opportunity to support us because we do trust you and you’ve worked with all of us for so many years. So that was the beginning of ACS. Now, they didn’t share with me that my wife and I would have to write several big checks as we grew the business. But what we did have was an opportunity to fill a need with an approach that was going to be great, not just for veterans but for so many other groups that we’ve worked with over the last six or seven years.
Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:08:52.74] That’s an amazing story. For listeners who might not be familiar with registered apprenticeship programs, can you explain to us how this differs from other worker training programs and maybe what employers need to do to have a registered apprenticeship?
Nicholas Morgan: [00:09:09.90] So apprenticeship isn’t as difficult of a concept as we think. I mean, it always sounds mythical, right? I mean, it’s always been the tried-and-true way to train workers, not just in the last 100 years, but historically. Right. Some great facts. The term journeyman or journey? Journey level worker. Right. That goes back to almost 2000 years ago. The idea was you learn to trade from a master tradesman, whatever it may be, professional trades too, even all the way back then. And because of the communities were relatively small, the apprentice, as they completed their apprenticeship contract, they would have to take a journey and move to another city or town or village. Right. And that’s why they called it a journeyman. And so that term has always stuck. And most people don’t know the origins, but apprenticeship is really being done everywhere throughout our organizations. We just don’t know it. You know, when you ask a group of people how many of them have had to learn their job on the job, I think everybody, they can hold a doctorate down to just had finished high school. I think everybody would raise their hand that they’ve had to learn on the job. What apprenticeship does is it combines learning on the job, on the job training as paid. Every apprentice is always paid as a full-time job with the technical instruction and the fact that somebody is getting access to, to supplemental training, that’s providing the technical knowledge to really augment the growth of those skills.
Nicholas Morgan: [00:10:58.80] That’s what really creates then some magic and the fact that, hey, if as I grow, am I getting some, some additional training that’s really helping me understand what I do and see the bigger picture and continue to apply new strategies to do whatever my work is, that’s always effective. And I think everybody at one point or another in their career, they do something like that. Now, registered apprenticeship has an extra couple of components. Now we’re dealing with some of the biggest challenges that face the workforce today, and that’s the number one reason people leave their job today, is that they don’t feel like there’s a career pathway, a future for them in that organization. So, with a registered apprenticeship you’re going to give them a job, you’re going to give them now some additional training, you’re going to add structure to this, make sure they get exposure to different skills. We’re going to maybe evaluate them for their competencies or test them for their knowledge, but we’re going to give them incremental pay increases along the way as you grow in skill and demonstrate competencies and gain experience. Now the employer is saying if you do all these things and exhibit the work habits and behaviors that we like to see in our workforce, we’re going to give you a pay increase.
Nicholas Morgan: [00:12:21.81] You’re rewarding them for being a high performing individual. Now we all want to say we do that in some way, but we all get busy. And when you have a registered apprenticeship, now you’ve put the structure there, that this stuff happens almost automatically and so that nobody’s ever forgot. Right. And now people know, when they’re thinking Sunday night about going to work, they know what I have to do to get promoted. And this is why veterans love the model is because it’s pretty well spelled out in the military, what we have to do to get promoted. As a matter of fact, the military is the largest HR organization probably in the world. It turns over its, 80% of its workforce every four years, and it requires hundreds and hundreds of occupations to function all over the globe. So, veterans, they know exactly, hey, I got to be in this grade, this pay grade for X amount of time and demonstrate these skills or go to this promotion board. And then I get my next rank, right? And that’s, that works really well when you’re transitioning out of the military to have a model like that, because you’re also gaining that, again, that technical knowledge to have the confidence in your skill. Right. Now, there’s a lot of other benefits about veterans and their family members being part of an apprenticeship.
Nicholas Morgan: [00:13:47.74] But for an employer to create an apprenticeship, it’s a lot simpler than they may think. You know, there’s over 1100 different occupations that are considered apprenticeable. I haven’t, for the most part, ever met anyone who was able to pick an occupation that we couldn’t figure out how to put them in the apprenticeship, if that occupation actually led to what we call family sustainable wages. So, if it’s something to a middle to high skill role, usually it’ll fit in some part of the apprenticeship system. Even, for example, in Texas, even a brewery created an apprenticeship program. And they hired several veterans that are now have a pretty cool job making beer every day. So that’s, an employer just has to be committed to that process and realize that, as I get started, I get it. We’re probably not going to be hiring people tomorrow for the apprenticeship, but after a few months you can get the program registered, start doing the outreach, and often the model is even used for your current workers because again, why, why go recruit more folks when you’re not even taking care of the ones that that are in your organization? If you can offer the apprenticeship just internally as well as new people entering your company, you’re able to show everybody and demonstrate that we’re willing to invest in you if, if you’re committed to grow.
Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:15:21.19] So it sounds like, as an employer, you can have an apprenticeship, you can build your own, or we can work with a firm like ACS to help put together a program for us, maybe for those of us who are like, sounds like a lot of work, I’m not really familiar with all the different steps. So how does ACS, how do they work with employers in terms of having apprenticeships and having apprentices work at maybe your or someone else’s company?
Nicholas Morgan: [00:15:55.18] Yeah, no, absolutely. So, the key part of how do they get started and think about whether they want to be the sponsor. A lot of apprenticeships are sponsored by the actual employer. Also, some of the bigger programs are sponsored by either some sort of association or consortium of employers. It could be a building trades unions, it could be an association, and they’ll help manage a lot of the administrative and management piece of the apprenticeship, which is attractive to a lot of businesses. It also creates some economies of scale, and it’s a great way to shift apprentices from one company to another if there’s ever some disruption in the, in that single entities’ workflow or their business needs have changed. So, the first part is they’ve got to understand is when they think about the apprenticeship system and most of the country, 25 states fall under the Department of Labor Office of Apprenticeship and they’ll have apprenticeship training representatives across those 25 states and territories. The rest of the country follows a state apprenticeship agency within those states, or, for example, down in Puerto Rico or the Virgin Islands. And, in those cases, they still do the same thing that those Department of Labor employees do. But they, they may have some local policies as well to augment. So, they all have to follow the National Apprenticeship Act and what people do not always understand is when they hear Department of Labor or State Workforce System, they get a little nervous. They’re like, oh, wait, does that open me up to OSHA or some other regulatory agency? Office of Apprenticeship is largely there as a technical assistance, as a customer service arm of the Department of Labor.
Nicholas Morgan: [00:18:06.51] They’re there to help create high quality programs, help employers navigate the resources and act as, often as an intermediary. In addition to that, the Department of Labor and other agencies have invested in expanding resources to employers through intermediaries and sometimes just through contracts or grants. ACS happens to be one of those, and most recently, through a large grant program called the Apprenticeship Building America, and ACS received the largest of all the grants out of 30 organizations. There were some 223 that applied. Our role in this is to help employers navigate the apprenticeship system, understand how to create programs, help them build the programs. But what was unique was we were also really focused on what do we do after we get married, right? So, you created the program. What’s next? So, one of the reasons why some employers aren’t as comfortable leveraging the apprenticeship model is they’re not prepared to navigate any of the administrative or compliance components. And while they’re really not that difficult to manage, we play that role in the sense of we assist the employer in doing it and understanding it, but we also help them leverage workforce funding. There’s billions of dollars that are annually appropriated through Congress to support employers through both the apprenticeship and other models as they provide career opportunities to people. And these are great ways for these communities to invest these taxpayer dollars because, when it’s an apprenticeship, it’s always a job.
Nicholas Morgan: [00:19:58.64] And we, and recognizing the investment that employers are making and training somebody as they also are earning wages, that’s, that’s a great way to leverage these dollars to support that investment. So, we will work with employers in many different ways, and that also includes connecting them to those dollars and helping facilitate the delivery of it, partly through our new Apprenticeship Building America grant. In addition to that, ACS, we do operate a group apprenticeship, it’s non joint, which means you don’t, it’s not part of a labor management organization, so it’s non-union and the employer joins our program, which is a relatively easy process. We discuss what’s required and, for the most part, some of the key things an employer provides an apprenticeship sponsor, whether it’s us, a community college partner, a labor management organization or others, is they, they share some payroll data on the apprentices so we can track their hours and we work together to figure out how that related instruction is going to be delivered. Again, it can be through some local training provider or the employer or us. And then, in addition to that, a key piece is we work collaboratively to mentor and coach the apprentices in order to have really positive outcomes, which is that people completed the program. Because one piece I didn’t discuss earlier was the fact that registered apprenticeships always conclude with an industry recognized and nationally portable credential of sorts that could be through an industry association, some sort of credentialing body.
Nicholas Morgan: [00:21:54.02] But also the Department of Labor or that state apprenticeship agency is issuing maybe one of the best credentials, and that’s the completion certificate. An apprenticeship completion certificate does something that most other credentials don’t, and that is it documents that this person’s done the job. You know, somebody maybe finished this training program or that maybe earned a degree. But that doesn’t mean on their resume that they’ve actually done the work and that work to be very relevant to what the occupation is. So, when somebody’s completed an apprenticeship, that new employer, whoever it is down the road, they know that this person actually has done the job for X period of time. Another thing I failed to mention is that apprenticeships are generally at a minimum. 2000 hours long, so roughly one full work year, but they can range up to four or five years. So, for example, an electrician is traditionally a five-year program. We actually have an HR apprenticeship in our organization that we’ve built for ACS and I think we’ve done 15 or 16 apprentices that work for ACS. They earned wages, but they got access to some really high-quality training while they were growing and many of which are still with us. And that’s one of the key thing’s employers should be taking away from us is that 93% of apprentices, when they complete their program, they stay with that employer. So, it’s not a temporary job. This is a full-time job. This is how we develop our workforce.
Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:23:35.20] I love it. Benefits are many, increased retention. We, we have a great funnel of properly trained new hires and candidates coming through our, our hiring and recruiting funnels. Let’s take a reset. This is Jessica Miller-Merrill, and you’re listening to the Workology Podcast sponsored by Upskill HR and ACE the HR exam. Today we are talking with Nick Morgan, founder and president of Adaptive Construction Solutions. This podcast is part of a podcast series powered by the Partnership on Inclusive Apprenticeship or PIA.
Break: [00:24:11.49] This episode of the Workology podcast is part of a new podcast series powered by the Partnership on Inclusive Apprenticeship or PIA. PIA is funded by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy, ODEP. ODEP launched PIA to ensure all apprenticeship programs are inclusive and accessible to people with disabilities. PIA collaborates with employers and apprenticeship programs to help meet employer talent needs and enable people with disabilities to benefit from apprenticeships that increase their opportunities for lifelong access to high growth, high demand jobs.
Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:24:48.35] One of the things I wanted to ask you about is what can these programs mean for participants, particularly persons with disabilities?
Nicholas Morgan: [00:24:58.57] Well, when I meet with employers and I generally, I make it a point to always meet with every partner and try to meet with most of the apprentices that came through the program, because that’s my favorite part of the job. You know, I, the topic of individuals with disabilities comes up as we try to figure out hiring needs. And is there a potential internal initiative that the apprenticeship can help fill? Because many companies are doing something in the community already and they’re just not getting the full results. Maybe they can find the individuals, but they don’t meet certain qualifications or they’re not familiar with how to make certain accommodations to make it work, whether they’re disabled or not. Sometimes new people entering the workforce need all kinds of accommodations. So, when I meet with employers, I always like to say, you’re looking at it. You know, I was, most people would never have thought that I’m disabled, but I went through years of physical therapy for my vision. I had a spinal cord injury, a brain injury. And, and I can’t remember the last time a joint didn’t hurt. But after spending some time in the hospital and thinking about what was I going to do when I got back to Houston, I was confronted with the fact that, wait a second, I’m going to be in and out doing physical therapy and everything else.
Nicholas Morgan: [00:26:21.52] I’m unemployable. That’s what I thought, and that’s what made me jump to start my own business as I thought that was the only option that I had. Now, thankfully, again, I had a, what we call a war chest. You know, I had saved money in the military. It’s easy to do that when your last year is on a deployment. But, you know, I like to tell employers that when we think about individuals with disabilities, we don’t recognize that there’s so many individuals already within their organization. So, ACS continues to grow. We have 72 staff members that are full time employees doing a whole mixture of professional roles that work for ACS. And recently we did a survey and 52% of our team identified as having a disability. So why is the apprenticeship the model? Well, when we look at workforce data for the last few years and I don’t like the term the great resignation, but what we do have is we did have quite a few people leave the labor force, roughly 2 million, depending on what dates you look at, right, from what range to what range. But what’s interesting is nobody covers the fact, that from March 2020 to March 2022, that 380,000 people with disabilities entered the labor force and gained employment.
Nicholas Morgan: [00:27:49.54] And that was one of the only demographics that grew. And so, what’s the reason for it? Part of it is, is the way we work is, is so different today than it was prior to the pandemic. But what I think also is employers are recognizing that this is an amazing resource. I’ve always said that whether it was any of my physical disabilities or even learning disabilities, being dyslexic as a child, some of these are my greatest gifts, I believe, that make me very creative and gives me an ability to think very innovatively but be very disruptive in our practices. Right. And I think that’s what we’ve gained from our team. But I recognize, though, is if individuals haven’t been in the workforce, maybe they’re highly educated, but they don’t have that work experience. The apprenticeship was a very important component and so it wasn’t right for us to run around and talk businesses into creating or participating in apprenticeship if we weren’t willing to do it ourselves. And so, we created an apprenticeship early. I think we were less than two years old for ourselves and we haven’t turned back.
Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:29:12.20] I love that and thank you for, for sharing. I think if I put myself in the employer’s shoes, I would want to know about some of the requirements for someone to become a registered apprentice and maybe how you are attracting applicants to your apprenticeship programs.
Nicholas Morgan: [00:29:29.51] So when we create new programs, we really encourage, from the design of the program that it be very flexible. And so, what people sometimes get too bogged down in the process of developing a program is they’re unable to separate that sometimes there’s a requirement of the apprenticeship and there’s a requirement of the job. We’ve always advocated to minimize the requirements to enter the apprenticeship. And depending on that employer selection process of how do they bring in new apprentices? At the end of the day, you know, there’s always the alternative model, which is because we’re sponsoring it as a, as an employer, we want them in your apprenticeship, ACS. And that’s, that gives them some flexibility, especially when you’re working with historically marginalized populations and you’re like, look, let’s level the playing field. If this is part of our initiative, as we’re trying to make sure that we have a very inclusive workforce, and you want to make sure everyone has the ability to enter the program. Then looking at keeping it very flexible and looking at what’s the requirement of the job, not necessarily some super high standard of the apprenticeship, then you have some flexibility. And that’s, that’s what’s created our program to have the level of diversity inclusion, which is not just a measurement of our apprenticeship, because that’s also who is part of ACS and our organization.
Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:31:16.58] And you mentioned a few different occupations, HR being one of them. Talk me through sectors and occupations that you’re seeing growth in apprenticeship programs.
Nicholas Morgan: [00:31:28.46] So yes, we started with iron working. That was the greatest need for my insurance customers as they were looking at how do they start a program. And it was a great fit for, for veterans. I was with the 82nd Airborne, so my thought was, hey, let’s just let’s get as many paratroopers to enter the industry, thinking that was good, going to be a good fit. And it was. But you’ve got to remind them not to jump. But the, the truth of it is, as we did more and more iron workers, what we started to see was not everybody was wanting to work at heights. Of course, I understand that. But the other component is there were so many people interested in the model and the approach, but we needed to have more industry sectors and occupations available. That way, when we find a really high-quality individual that has the character to be successful, the resiliency, then we have something to offer for them. So, our program, I think, represents something like 20 different occupations. We don’t currently have apprentices in every single of those occupations at the moment, just because some of them have been higher demand, like telecommunication tower technicians. Believe it or not, skilled laborers, where people would think that’s a low paying job; it is not.
Nicholas Morgan: [00:32:55.61] There’s plenty of people who’ve left our program that are making well over $30, $40 an hour as a skilled laborer, especially if they’re a veteran that possesses leadership skills. But the, the labor program has been really successful also for the renewables side of the construction industry. With the passing of the Inflationary Reduction Act. There’s an amazing opportunity for apprenticeships to grow due to the linkages of tax credits to apprenticeship requirements and prevailing wages on these jobs. So, taking all the politics out of whether or not that’s a good idea, it does support the growth of the apprenticeship system. And, you know, and when you think about what kind of jobs these are going to create, there are going to be a lot of professional and engineering jobs that might also be apprentice, HR and whatnot, but also manufacturing, the, surely the construction of renewable projects. But this, this goes far past even renewables from a, what immediately comes to our mind because a lot of these new jobs will also be in the efficiency of buildings. How do we lower the carbon footprint of existing buildings through weatherization, but also through just the way that they’re operated? And that has an apprenticeship requirement as well.
Nicholas Morgan: [00:34:31.31] I’ve been roughly estimating what number of apprenticeships are going to be created by this demand, and it could very literally double the number of apprenticeships across the country. Other occupations, health care is growing. Tech, Cyber is a big one. Cyber, people would think there would be a lot more cyber security apprenticeships. But these programs in tech are generally short. So, somebody is not sitting in a program for four years. They’re getting in, they’re getting out. And why businesses are really moving in that direction for tech is the feeling is it’s hard to stay relevant and current with technology when the training is being delivered through traditional approaches, maybe a four year or beyond program versus hey, did they get some really strong basic and core skills through post-secondary training? But, from a skill development piece, the employers want to play a bigger role in developing them because software and languages are changing so fast and no organization, colleges or others can keep up. And every company is highly specialized, what language, they all are based on certain founding principles and framework, and that’s where, what they need to learn in higher education. But then do they develop that further and larger knowledge and skill set once they’re in the workforce?
Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:36:06.57] Awesome. Well, I think the possibilities are endless for apprenticeships, and I thought I would leave us with the final question here. Where should they start? What resource can you direct them to? Or a place that they can go to learn more about how to start or be a part of an apprenticeship program?
Nicholas Morgan: [00:36:26.34] Yeah. In order to really dive in to understanding apprenticeships, DOL actually has a great website. Apprenticeship.gov. They can also visit our website, which is go apprenticeship.com. Goapprenticeship.com. There’s some great materials and it’s a great way to contact us. And again, with our new Department of Labor grant, we’re able to help support employers navigate this at no cost to them, that you’ve already paid that through your taxpayer dollars. There’s a few other things I would like to share in the sense that, again, why do we do this and what are the benefits? And when we think about veterans, they get to leverage their GI Bill benefits too and from just as simply a business case for it, when a veteran utilizes their GI Bill, the benefits only go to the veteran, which I actually as a veteran really like. I don’t like receiving $1 from a veteran or any other apprentice. These programs are sponsored by employers and the workforce system. And so, the GI Bill only goes to the veterans, so they receive a monthly allowance on top of their wage, just like they’re going to college. So, think about this for a second. You’re starting a veteran as a new apprentice, whether it’s HR or health care, construction, manufacturing or anything else.
Nicholas Morgan: [00:37:57.56] And let’s say you start them at $16, $18, even $22 an hour, they’re going to receive that monthly allowance for that local area or state on top of that wage. And that goes a long way to providing a financial bridge to that veteran in their family. So, for example, in Texas, our apprentices earn $1,752 tax free on top of the $18, $20 an hour they generally start at. And then every six months, as they’re getting pay increases, as they’re demonstrating their skills, as we’re rewarding them for their growth, the VA is slowly weaning them off that GI bill pay. They decrease it by 20%, but it also conserves their benefits. So, they’re not burning through their, all of their benefits. I think it’s a great model because again, it’s a financial bridge, but the employer recognizes that while I’m investing in this person to continue to grow, my investment’s protected because I don’t think my competition’s just going to come in and recruit them away for ten or $15 an hour. That’s a bit too much. And we see it in the data. The veterans that decide to use their GI Bill, which is roughly 70, 85%, have been in our programs.
Nicholas Morgan: [00:39:15.74] They tend to have a higher retention than those that do not. So that’s, that’s one bit, big business angle because we always want to pay our workers more, right? I mean, we all as a business owner or as a leader on a team, you want to advocate for compensation for your team, especially when they’re doing well and they’re engaged. In these inflationary times, it can be a bit of a challenge, especially with wage competition. And so, to know that this investment in apprenticeship, and, when I say investment, that can be just your opportunity cost of doing something different. That’s being protected because now you have a model that allows a veteran who maybe left the military eight years ago and that benefit typically, it expires after ten years unless they’re disabled or have a Purple Heart. Some of them give it to their children. But it’s, what I’m telling you, when you talk to a veteran and they find out that they can receive their monthly allowance on top of their apprentice wage, they think it’s too good to be true and some sort of scam. But it’s real and it’s very effective.
Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:40:33.29] What a fantastic piece of information that I hadn’t really thought about. And it’s a, it’s a great way to help them. They’ve already paid in. They might as well take advantage. And I think so many of the military members, service members don’t. Well, Nick, I really appreciate you taking the time. We’re going to link to your company as well as additional resources that we talked about here today on the Workology Podcast. Any other final parting thoughts you want to leave us with?
Nicholas Morgan: [00:41:08.98] Yes. As an employer’s thinking about navigating the apprenticeship system and thinking, is this the model that fits them? It’s really important to understand that the best programs are done through collaboration. And there’s a lot of eager agencies, organizations, education providers that want to work with employers. And so, realize that you don’t have to do it alone. And the best way is by collaborating with others. If anything else, you can learn some valuable lessons, but also you can gain access to a lot of resources and support. And then you can make a really educated decision on whether or not it fits your organization.
Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:41:58.99] Amazing. Well, thank you again, Nick, for taking the time to chat with us today.
Nicholas Morgan: [00:42:03.61] Thank you.
Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:42:05.35] Apprenticeships are such an amazing way to grow talent for your company, expand your talent pool and also your industry, plus apprenticeships that are inclusive for people, especially those with disabilities, offer a great way to add diversity to your workforce, as many veterans and underserved communities experience greater levels of disability. I appreciate Nick so much for taking the time to talk to us today about his experience on the podcast. A special thank you to PIA, who is powering this podcast series on inclusive apprenticeships and our podcast sponsors Upskill HR and Ace the HR exam. Personal and professional development is essential for successful HR leaders. Join Upskill HR to access live training, community and over 100 on demand courses for the dynamic leader. HR Recert credits available. Visit UpskillHR.com for more. This podcast is for the disruptive workplace leader who’s tired of the status quo. My name is Jessica Miller-Merrell and, until next time, you can visit Workology.com to listen to all our Workology podcast episodes.