Pensacola, Florida - January 2016 marked the 40th year of the United Services Military Apprenticeship Program, providing sea-service military members with certifications documenting their skills through the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL).
According to Tom Phillips, USMAP Certifications and Credentialing Program supervisor, this anniversary also marked a milestone of 80,000 current active participants, with 55,000 registrations in the past year.
"The USMAP team works closely with DOL to provide nationally recognized apprenticeship programs that result in journeyman-level certificates of completion for members of the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard," said Phillips. "During their apprenticeship, service members document their military duties while working in their rating or Military Occupational Specialty."
Earning the DOL certificate costs the service member nothing and does not normally require working additional off-duty hours. Phillips also noted that it can give the member a significant head-start on their post-military career.
Recent improvements to the program allow registrations to be done completely online, with few exceptions.
"We've made significant upgrades to the program, making it easier for service members to sign up, manage and complete the program," said Lt. Cmdr. Mark Wadsworth, Navy Voluntary Education operations director. "These upgrades have resulted in the increase in the number of service members actively working toward their USMAP certificates."
One Sailor who has embraced the program is Senior Chief Hull Technician Jonathan Purvis, 1st Lieutenant Department leading chief petty officer for Naval Base San Diego. Purvis currently holds five DOL certifications, ranging from plumber to welder.
"I started working on USMAP apprenticeships during my first enlistment, when I wasn't sure whether I was going to stay active duty, and I knew that it could help me get a job in the civilian sector," said Purvis. "But throughout my career, working on several apprenticeships has helped me focus on different skill areas and made me a better technician. That focus and knowledge has also helped me train my junior Sailors."
USMAP enables documentation of a Sailor's formalized and structured training. It combines on-the-job training (OJT) and related technical instruction. All the individual is required to do is regularly document the hours worked in the various skill areas either in a hard-copy log or electronically through the web and have it verified by their supervisor. In addition, the service member submits a report every six months to the USMAP staff and a final report once their required OJT hours are complete.
"Each apprenticeship requires anywhere between 2,000 and 8,000 hours of OJT work and training," said Bob Rowland, USMAP senior registrar. "Working a typical 40-hour week, many members can complete an apprenticeship within a year. There are 123 trades available, ranging from aircraft mechanic to x-ray equipment tester. More than 96 percent of Navy enlisted ratings, 85 percent of Coast Guard enlisted ratings, and 232 Marine Corps MOS' are eligible for these trades. Some trades, such as computer operator are available to all ratings."
Rowland added that pre-registration credits can be awarded to those who have time-in-service and can even be applied toward college credits.
"Service members can receive a maximum credit up to 50 percent of the required OJT," said Rowland. "For example, an E-6 with 10 years of service interested in an apprenticeship requiring 6,000 hours can receive a maximum of 3,000 credits toward their certificate, significantly cutting their requirements for hours of logged on-the-job training."
Any active duty Sailor, Marine, or Coast Guardsman can become an apprentice as long as they have been designated in a rating, have sufficient time to complete the program while on active duty and possess a high school diploma or GED. The selected trade must be their primary job at their current command.
"It's about quantifying what you've accomplished," added Phillips. "Service members are already doing the work; it's just a matter of documenting what they do. Now they have their work 'on the record' and a completed apprenticeship shows significant professional development, and can look good to promotion boards. Certificates also regularly open doors once a service member decides to hang up the uniform."
For more information about the United Services Military Apprenticeship Program, visit www.usmap.netc.navy.mil.