Earn While You Learn

Business Employment Skills Team, Inc. (BEST) announces that November 8th through November 14th is National Apprenticeship Week.  In its sixth year, National Apprenticeship Week (NAW) is a nationwide celebration established by the U.S. Department of Labor to bring together leading business, labor, education, and other critical partners to showcase the impact apprenticeship programs have on closing the U.S. skills gap for the American workforce.  Apprenticeship is an industry-driven, high-quality career pathway in which workers can obtain paid work experience, classroom instruction, and a transferable credential while job creators develop and prepare their future workforce.  Apprenticeship is a flexible training model that can be customized to meet the needs of every business and industry.   Apprenticeship programs provide flexible training models that can be customized to meet the needs of every business and industry.  Dianna Schuler, Business Relations Manager for BEST, Inc. said  “According to the US Department of Labor the retention rate for employees in a Registered Apprenticeship Program  is 91%”   Schuler went on to say ” the average return on investment to employers is $1.40 for every $1.00 spent on training an apprentice.”

Recently, BEST, Inc. has received a grant from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity as part of the state’s, and US Department of Labor’s, effort to expand apprenticeship opportunities. BEST, Inc. is partnering with Illinois Valley Community College (Oglesby, IL), Sauk Valley Area Chamber of Commerce (Sterling, IL), Northwest Illinois Economic Development (Hanover, IL), and Rock Island Tri- County Consortium (Rock Island, IL) to deliver outreach to area businesses across all industry sectors within the 11 county area being served.

Outreach will include making businesses aware of the benefits of sponsoring an apprenticeship program including the positive return on investment, the process of developing an apprenticeship program, and linkage to the US Department of Labor’s Office of Apprenticeships. Thousands of occupations, and companies, have already benefited from the apprenticeship model and the State of Illinois is looking to expand those opportunities by another 800 apprentices over the course of the grant period.

Locally the project looks to add 20 new registered apprentices along with 5 new programs. Nikelle Tellier has been hired to act as Project Manager and will be responsible for coordinating efforts among the partnering entities. Area businesses are encouraged to participate in upcoming events, as they are scheduled, that will further define the advantages of the apprenticeship model to train and retain their workforce or to reach out to Ms. Tellier by emailing her at