Building a Talent Pipeline: Meeting Recruiting Challenges with Apprenticeship Solutions

What comes to mind when you hear the word “apprentice”? You might think of new workers in the manufacturing industry, like welders, or in skilled trades, like carpenters or electricians. Historically, the apprenticeship model has involved a seasoned professional teaching a student directly in their workplace. The beauty of the apprenticeship model was that it made it possible for people to earn a wage while gaining experience and technical skills.

But if you think this concept is relegated to the past, think again. Apprenticeship is a powerful, time-tested tool for meeting labor shortages, especially for hard-to-fill positions. And, increasingly, it’s being deployed in industries that haven’t traditionally used it.

The case for apprenticeship: M Health Fairview

At M Health Fairview, a healthcare partnership that combines academic and community medicine based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the motivation for an apprenticeship solution was based on projected workforce labor shortages for nurses, surgical technologists and medical assistants.

“There were multiple reasons why it made sense to bring apprenticeship back to Fairview,” recalls Laura Beeth, vice president of talent acquisition at Fairview. “We knew we had to have new recruiting tactics to help fill our needs.”

Beeth explains that M Health Fairview was already running “earn and learn” programs in other roles before bringing back formal apprenticeship to build and grow their workforce.

“Apprenticeship helps us meet our commitment to community and reach candidates that might not have previously considered a career in healthcare,” Beeth says. “Many have shared with us that they would not have been able to pursue their program without the support of this model.”

Making an educational alliance

As a current chair of the Governor’s Workforce Development Board in Minnesota and a member of a 100-person delegation to the first-ever White House Summit on Apprenticeships in 2015, Beeth has been a strong advocate for this recruiting solution. Because a solid apprenticeship program requires a strong partnership between the hiring organization and the educational provider, Beeth describes Rasmussen University as a good match for the needs of M Health Fairview.

“Rasmussen University was selected as the education partner for our Medical Assistant and Surgical Technologist Apprenticeship programs for their ability to be flexible in programming, curriculum design and location,” Beeth says. “In addition, Rasmussen has proven over time to be a nimble and proactive partner on workforce pipelines.”

Beeth credits the apprenticeship model’s success at M Health Fairview to having strong leadership support from the start.

“New sites continue to express interest in the apprenticeship program as word of its success grows,” she adds.

Starting an apprenticeship program

Beeth’s advice to organizations interested in pursuing apprenticeship? Start from strength.

“Having a strong team that is able to adapt and pivot as needed will ensure success,” Beeth says. “Even though healthcare clinical jobs were built with a strong component of onsite experiential learning, apprenticeship is still a relatively new model for healthcare, so it takes a bit more time to help explain to interested candidates.”

Beeth stresses the importance of having a designated team to field questions—which might come from anywhere—especially when the program is new to both apprentice students and worksite employees.

“Start small, work out the kinks and grow your program from there,” Beeth advises. “Make sure you are hiring the apprentices at sites that have the ability to provide a strong mentorship presence and continue to check in with the apprentices and supervisors throughout the program.”

Learn more about how an educational alliance with Rasmussen University can help build and grow your talent pipeline. Visit: