Find answers to frequently asked questions related to Oklahoma apprenticeships and internships.
An apprenticeship is a program that combines paid work experience with educational instruction, resulting in industry-recognized credentials.
Registered Apprenticeships are high-quality, work-based learning and postsecondary earn-and-learn models, which meet national standards for registration with the U.S. Department of Labor.
No, actually there are over 1,200 apprenticeable occupations in nearly a dozen major industries including:
- Advanced Manufacturing
- Aerospace and Defense
- Agriculture and Biosciences
- Creative Industries
- Education, Training and Development
- Health Care
- Information and Financial Services
- Transportation and Distribution
While many union and traditional trade jobs have histories with apprenticeships, other businesses and industries have seen the value. Registered Apprenticeships can be created by any public or private company, as long as the program meets the U.S. Department of Labor standards.
Registered Apprenticeship training is distinguished from other types of workplace training by several factors: programs must meet national standards for registration with the U.S. Department of Labor; programs provide on-the-job learning and job-related technical instruction; on-the-job learning is conducted in the work setting under the direction of one or more of the employer’s personnel; and training results in an industry-recognized credential.
The length of an apprenticeship program depends on the complexity of the occupation and the program model the sponsor chooses. Apprenticeship programs range in length from one to six years but average four years.
Taking apprenticeship programs to the next level by registering with the U.S. Department of Labor ensures programs will be a win-win for the company and the apprentice. By registering, the company also receives benefits such as help with recruiting, especially veterans; assistance with creating custom curriculum; and access to enrollment tools.
Companies with apprenticeships quickly see a return on their investment through more qualified and loyal employees. Employers can fill positions with their ideal workforce– workers trained in the exact skills and competencies their business needs. In fact, for every $1 spent on an apprenticeship, employers gain $1.47 through increased productivity, reduced waste and greater front-line innovation.
Businesses can start with visiting oklahomaworks.gov/work-based-learning for information. When ready to create a program, businesses can reach out to the Oklahoma Office of Workforce Development for details and step-by-step guidance on starting a Registered Apprenticeship program. Contact information can be found at: oklahomaworks.gov/about/staff to speak to knowledgeable representatives.
Oklahoma Works and the U.S. Department of Labor are available to help businesses through every step of the process in setting up a new Registered Apprenticeship program. These partners offer guidance in developing curriculum, introductions to education partners, recruiting, etc.
Oklahoma employers are facing a shortage of skilled workers. Estimates show a 23-point gap between Oklahoma’s current workforce and what employers will need by the year 2025. Work-based learning can help fill this gap. Employers can use apprenticeships and internships to attract new talent, fill vacancies in areas where skill gaps have made hiring difficult and build a talent pipeline to sustain future workforce needs.
Apprenticeships and internships both offer on-the-job training. The main differences are the length and intensity of programs. Typically, an internship lasts from three months to one year, while apprenticeships are typically one to six years in length, with a national average of four years. Internships focus on general skills development, while apprenticeships provide specialized training in specific occupational skills. Apprenticeships are full-time, paid positions, while internships are usually part-time and may or may not be paid. Interns are not obligated to work for the employer after the internship is over.
Nearly any company—regardless of size or location—can use an intern. Interns are ideal for all kinds of organizations across a diverse set of fields, including marketing, information technology, research, accounting responsibilities, human resource functions, and more. Interns can provide valuable support to a department and fill a role or help get a project off the ground. High quality internship programs meet your company’s needs while also building a pool of candidates who have work experience within your organization. Internship programs are an inexpensive recruiting tool and an opportunity to train future employees to develop the skill sets aligned with your workforce needs. Additionally, interns can provide a management opportunity for mid-level staff by assigning these staff members to mentorship and coaching opportunities within the internship program.
The number one tip from those who have established programs is to start recruiting early. Students begin making commitments to class schedules and part-time jobs as much as two-three months prior to the next semester. Begin searching three to four months before you need a student to begin. Starting early has other advantages. The longer the application period is, the greater the number of applications. You increase your chance of finding the best person for the internship. When you are recruiting interns, promote yourself with the career or internship programs at high schools, colleges and universities, attend internship and job fairs, and place ads in high school, college and university newspapers and websites.
Internships may or may not be paid — though, if they are unpaid, they’re usually subject to stringent labor guidelines.
It is the responsibility of each employer to determine whether an internship should be paid or unpaid based on labor laws. Each employer’s human resources department should be familiar with labor laws in order to determine eligibility based on the organization’s specific internship opportunity. Minimum wage and overtime laws cannot be avoided merely by labeling a position as an internship.
The FLSA requires “for-profit” employers to pay employees for their work. Interns and students, however, may not be “employees” under the FLSA—in which case the FLSA does not require compensation for their work.
Refer to The FLSA Test for Unpaid Interns and Students
Paid interns often make ideal workers — hungry to learn, eager to make a good impression, and willing to perform a multitude of tasks. The relatively small amount of money employers spend on intern wages and benefits can be a good investment, because it often produces future long-term employees.
Additionally, offering paid internship program results in:
- Larger number of applicants for roles that offer at least a minimum wage vs. roles that are unpaid.
- Remove economic barriers to internship and access larger talent pool of students, as students are not forced to choose between a paycheck and an internship program.
- Research shows that paid interns are more likely to convert to full-time hires and are more likely to stay with the company long term.
Students who took paid internships were more likely to get a full-time job post-graduation, as well as make a higher salary than students who took unpaid internships, according to a survey of the graduating class of 2015 by the National Association of Colleges and Employers.
Interns who were paid at private, for-profit companies had a 72% chance of getting a job offer, compared to just 44% of unpaid interns. Unpaid interns at state and local government agencies fared the worst, with only a 34% chance of getting a job offer after graduation. Rather surprisingly, students with no internship experience at all had a 3% higher chance of getting a job offer than students who took unpaid internships at local state and government agencies.
When implemented well, internships have many benefits for both the employer and the student as well as the school and overall community. If you are considering hiring an intern, here are some potential opportunities:
- Gain short term talent to assist current employees and increase your team’s productivity
- Attract enthusiastic workers who can contribute new ideas and bring fresh, innovative perspectives
- Evaluate a potential future employee and create a talent pipeline
- Increase diversity at your organization and access students with special skills and/or knowledge
- Enhance visibility of your organization on college campuses and remain competitive in the market for top talent
- Offer management experience to employees working as intern supervisors and mentors
- Provide full-time employees more time to focus on other essential tasks
- Contribute to your community by developing the local workforce and helping youth achieve their career path goals
- Strengthen relationships with local universities and colleges
According to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), no youth under 18 may be employed at any time in the following occupations, unless specifically exempt. General exemptions apply to all of these occupations, while limited apprentice/student-learner exemptions apply to those occupations marked with an *. A description of these exemptions follows the hazardous occupations list.
The rules prohibiting working in hazardous occupations (HO) apply either on an industry basis, or on an occupational basis no matter what industry the job is in. These rules prohibit work in, or with the following:
HO 1. Manufacturing and storing of explosives.
HO 2. Driving a motor vehicle and being an outside helper on a motor vehicle.
HO 3. Coal mining.
HO 4. Forest fire fighting and fire prevention, timber tract management, forestry services, logging, and saw mill occupations.
HO 5.* Power-driven woodworking machines.
HO 6. Exposure to radioactive substances.
HO 7. Power-driven hoisting apparatus.
HO 8.* Power-driven metal-forming, punching, and shearing machines.
HO 9. Mining, other than coal mining.
HO 10. Meat and poultry packing or processing (including the use of power-driven meat slicing machines).
HO 11. Power-driven bakery machines.
HO 12.* Balers, compactors, and paper-products machines.
HO 13. Manufacturing brick, tile, and related products.
HO 14.* Power-driven circular saws, band saws, guillotine shears, chain saws, reciprocating saws, wood chippers, and abrasive cutting discs.
HO 15. Wrecking, demolition, and shipbreaking operations.
HO 16.* Roofing operations and all work on or about a roof.
HO 17.* Excavation operations.
You can obtain more detail about any, or all of the above listings, by reviewing the child labor regulations.
Complete Child Labor Exemptions
The Fair Labor Standards Act provides for certain exemptions. The child labor rules do not apply to:
- Youth employed as actors or performers in motion pictures, theatrical, radio, or television productions;
- Youth engaged in the delivery of newspapers to consumers;
- Youth working at home in the making of wreaths composed of natural holly, pine, cedar, or other evergreens (including the harvesting of the evergreens).
Partial Exemptions from Hazardous Order Prohibitions
Limited exemptions from some of the hazardous occupations rules allow 16- and 17- year-old apprentices and student-learners to perform otherwise prohibited work (hazardous jobs) under certain conditions. The hazardous occupations in which youth may work if the those conditions are met are: HO #5 Power-driven woodworking machines; HO #8 Power-driven metal-forming, punching and shearing machines; HO #10 Meat and poultry slaughtering, packing, or processing (including the use of power-driven meat slicing machines); HO #12 Power-driven paper-product machines, including scrap paper balers and paper box compactors; HO #14 Power-driven circular saws, band saws, guillotine shears, chain saws, reciprocating saws, wood chippers, and abrasive cutting discs; HO #16 Roofing operations and all work on or about a roof; and HO #17 Excavation operations.
There are no similar exemptions from the hazardous occupations rules for youth younger than 16. 14- and 15-year-olds, however, may be employed in approved school-administered and school-supervised Work Experience and Career Exploration Programs (WECEP) or Work Study Programs (WSP). Such programs allow variations in the rules and permit employment during school hours. WECEP participants may also be employed in otherwise prohibited occupations for which an official exception has been authorized by the Department of Labor.
FLSA Section 13(c)(7) creates a limited exemption from the youth employment provisions for certain minors 14 through 17 years of age who are excused from compulsory school attendance beyond the eighth grade. This exemption allows eligible youth to be employed inside and outside of businesses that use machinery to process wood products (such as sawmills, furniture manufacturers, garden shed and gazebo manufacturers, cabinet makers and pallet shops) with some restrictions, but does not allow them to operate or assist in the operation of power-driven woodworking machinery.
Note: All states have child labor rules, mandatory school attendance laws, and determine the minimum age at which youth may operate motor vehicles. Check Oklahoma’s state rules at: https://www.ok.gov/odol/Services/Child_Labor/index.html
For more information visit:
United States Department of Labor (USDOL)
Yes, According to the “Apprenticeships, Internships and Mentorships (AIM) Act of 2016”
70 O.S. § 1210.528-1.2
“A. Beginning with the 2017 – 2018 school year, the governing body of each public, private, magnet, charter, or virtual charter school in this state (the school) is authorized to enter into an agreement with private or public organizations for the purpose of creating apprenticeship, internship and mentorship programs. Apprenticeships, internships and mentorships may be available to high school juniors and seniors as permitted by each school. The apprenticeship, internship or mentorship may fill the requirement of elective courses as the student’s schedule permits. A student may not use the apprenticeship, internship or mentorship to replace any other state education requirement.
- The governing body of each school shall have the authority to adopt policies regarding the creation of apprenticeships, internships and mentorships that include the registration and qualifications for private or public organizations to participate in the apprenticeship, internship or mentorship program”
Students may earn elective credit for an internship. OSDE has designated a code to use when enrolling a student into an internship course. This course code is for a semester elective and can be used for first and second semester.
Course Code: 2790 Internship – Juniors
Course Code: 2791 Internship – Seniors
8102 – Business Information Technology Internship
8468- Culinary Arts Internship
8622 – Marketing Internship
The following Internship course codes count for Accountability – Postsecondary Opportunities: 2790; 2791; 8102; 8468; 8622.
- Students must be juniors or seniors to participate in an internship.
- A maximum of 2 high school elective hours, of the 6 rigorous course hours required per school day, can be used for such programs. (The 2 hours may include student travel to internship site.)
- A senior student may petition their local school board to increase to 3 hours if that fits into the student’s schedule.
- Semester Course (can be repeated for elective credit) – up to 1 credit per semester (per class – consistent with Concurrent enrollment)
- Districts should consider developing local policies and guidelines to govern internship programs.
- Agreements between the school and business
- Grading rubrics for school, student and business (e.g. attendance)
- Feedback forms for business
- Workplace Safety (https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/talkingsafety/states/ok/2015-168/default.html)
Internships provide an opportunity for students to have an authentic experience related to the career pathway established in their career academic plan.
For more information and to learn about Oklahoma school district internship programs and resources go to: http://www.sde.ok.gov/sde/new-skills-classroom