Maryland has positioned apprenticeship as a core workforce development strategy through an organizational realignment that has better positioned the state to leverage resources and the expansion of business engagement to grow opportunities in new industry sectors and increase access for underserved populations.

Historically, apprenticeships in Maryland existed primarily in the skilled trades, but in 2017, state leaders recognized the need to integrate apprenticeship into the workforce system as a way to address the workforce needs of a wider range of Maryland's businesses. New legislation allowed the state to programmatically and physically move the Maryland Apprenticeship and Training Program (MATP) and begin the process of repositioning apprenticeship as a key workforce development strategy.

To draw in new partners, Maryland earmarked $620,000 from their State Apprenticeship Expansion (SAE) grant for an Apprenticeship Innovation Fund.  These funds support key initiatives, including establishing the Maryland Manufacturing Extension Partnership as an intermediary sponsor for small and medium-sized manufacturers across the state, and the launch of a pilot pre-apprenticeship program with the Regional Council of Carpenters in Baltimore to increase the proportion of female carpenter apprentices from 2% to 10%.

Maryland also tapped SAE grant funding to add six new state staff and fund up to 20% of Wagner-Peyser-funded business service staff's time in support of apprenticeship. A half-time position funded through the Senior Community Service Employment Program grew the state team further at no cost to the apprenticeship program. With this increased staff capacity, MATP has been able to greatly increase business engagement across industry sectors and coordination across partner programs.

Such coordination also enabled MATP to launch a largescale outreach campaign with the goal of connecting with every inactive sponsor in the state.  This effort found many sponsors ready to engage and reactivate their apprenticeships.  To better integrate apprenticeship into the workforce system, MATP trained business service representatives from partner programs - like job centers, TANF, vocational rehabilitation, and community colleges - on apprenticeship and how to do a "warm hand-off" to MATP staff. As one MATP staff put it, "We didn't realize how worthwhile the time investment in training other business service reps on apprenticeship was.  It was worth its weight in gold!"

This SAE grantee spotlight was first featured in in the December 2017 Apprenticeship Connections Newsletter, a resource for SAE grantees.  SAE grants were awarded by the U.S. Department of Labor to 36 states and 1 territory in November 2016.  To view other SAE grantee spotlights, visit the Apprenticeship Connections Newsletter archive on the Apprenticeship Community of Practice.