Implementing Apprenticeship: Theory and Practice

Publisher: Proficia

Jocelyn Graf, the principal consultant at Proficia, has been doing research in policy related to education and work issues for over 15 years. Her work spans academic study, labor activism and human resources management, and training program design and implementation.

Graf’s study of work-based learning started when she worked as a research assistant in the University of Illinois Department of Labor and Industrial Relations during graduate school. She was promoted to Researcher after graduation and continued her work there under the direction of Helena Worthen, Ph.D., a recognized labor education scholar and award-winning author of What Did You Learn at Work Today? Much of her scholarship revolved around the question of how to expand access to well-paying jobs and better working conditions for women, people of color, immigrants, and people with low incomes.

In the Building Bridges pre-apprenticeship program focused on expanding access to the building trades to African-Americans, Graf performed participant observation at the community education center, the sponsor organization office, the apprenticeship training facility, and at Chicago’s Cabrini-Green housing projects from which the trainees were recruited. She also built a database for tracking participants.

In a study on the federal consent decrees implemented in the mid-1980’s to force labor unions to open their membership to people of color, Graf performed the legal research and evaluated the original court records from the federal archives. She also interviewed current union members to determine whether the consent decree had been effective and to understand how educational programs could support maintaining and expanding diversity and inclusion after the consent decrees were lifted.

Graf’s research on learning at work also included several studies with a gender focus. In research funded by the Ruth V. Polk Foundation, she explored the ways that women access leadership in their workplaces. She performed approximately 50 in-depth interviews with women leaders in their workplaces sampled from sectors with a gender imbalance, including the construction trades, airlines, and K-12 schools. She contributed to developing leadership training programs for women based on the insights from the interviews and helped deliver them to a group of women across many industry sectors.

While at the University of Illinois, she also performed the literature review for a study on the role of Workforce Investment Boards in shaping supply and demand for labor in Chicago and beyond.

As an elected member of the board of the Illinois Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages – Bilingual Education, she assisted with a statewide survey of working conditions for teachers and their immigrant students and presented the results to the Illinois Board of Higher Education. Graf also completed an internship in labor-management contract negotiation at the Illinois Federation of Teachers focusing on administrative and technical workers.

More recently, Graf has performed and presented policy research in two major languages of immigrant communities of Los Angeles: Spanish and Korean. Graf was invited to present research on educational workplaces in Mexico City and discuss US educational policy with schoolteachers in Oaxaca, Mexico. She also coordinated a tri-national conference on educational workplaces, familiarizing herself with the research of international scholars and nominating guest speakers.

Graf’s broader policy research projects include qualitative analysis of Seoul, Korea’s linguistic landscapes to identify how grassroots micro-policies of leaders in immigrant spaces overlay national and municipal language policies in settings including health clinics, churches, restaurants, and online communities. She has also published several articles on race and English as a Foreign Language teaching in South Korea and contributed chapters on North Korea and South Korea to a book on European language policy in Asia, which was also presented as a keynote at a policy conference in Japan by Professor Richard Baldauf, the book editor.

In 2014, Graf served as the Director of the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) Academy at Los Angeles City College. From 2014 to 2016, Graf worked with the Information Technology Agency (ITA), Personnel Department, and Controller’s Office of the City of Los Angeles to implement a pilot data science pre-apprenticeship program in partnership with the college. Graf and collaborator David Rochman guided a team of community college students and people from the surrounding neighborhood under the leadership of graduate students from USC and UCLA. They completed a data science project as a way of giving the participants a job experience. Out of this experience, Rochman wrote a pre-apprenticeship curriculum on Data Analytics for Social Innovation. Proficia submitted this curriculum to the South Bay Workforce Investment Board, along with two other curricula for Computer-Aided Drafting and Web Development. These programs have been approved for Department of Labor funding, and Proficia has been listed on the state Employment Training Panel List (ETPL), which opens up access to unemployment training funds for Proficia trainees.

In 2015-2016, Graf performed research and consulting for the Western Chapter of the International Society of Arboriculture. She guided the industry association’s leadership through an exploration of the potential role of apprenticeship in solving the problem of their shortage of trained workers for tree-climbing arborist positions across California and the Western states. Her work included participant observation and interviews at work sites in Los Angeles and the Bay Area, and collaboration with non-profit organizations like Oakland’s Urban Releaf, as well as the CAL FIRE Urban Forestry Advisory Committee. She co-presented her program design at the chapter board meeting and annual conference and guided their successful submission of an arborist apprenticeship curriculum for funding through the OpenTech LA American Apprenticeship grant from the US Department of Labor.

In 2016, Graf collaborated with David Rochman to bring together a team of eight apprenticeship researchers to use the PIAAC secondary data set to compare apprenticeship settings in the US with those of European countries with stronger apprenticeship systems, like Germany. They won a travel grant for the entire team to participate in a federally funded training on PIAAC research at Portland State University.

Graf’s company, Proficia, expanded into training in 2016 and guided a project manager through successful completion of a non-traditional apprenticeship in 2017. In the summer of 2017, Proficia also provided electronics technician skills training through a partnership with Youth Policy Institute’s program for young people who were completing a high school diploma or GED after leaving school. Proficia won a grant in partnership with the LA Cleantech Incubator from the Coalition for the Economy & Jobs to help community college students access middle-skills jobs created by Measure M funding in LA Metro and its vendors. In August, Proficia launched a new social enterprise providing engineering services to the entertainment industry and hired their first apprentice technician from the summer training program.

Over the years, Graf has worked on job sites alongside traditional skilled trades apprentices and journeymen, such as steel mills, a physical plant, and residential and commercial construction sites. She advises a small construction company, Pacific Electric Worker-Owned Co., and is familiar with the employer-side issues of recruiting, training on the job and managing apprentices both in the construction trades and in the tech industry.

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