apprenticeship

Meeting Demand of a Growing Field

By Sarah Asp Olson

Houston Community College teams up with CVS in a registered apprenticeship program for pharmacy technicians.

Prospects for would-be pharmacy technicians are good — better than average — according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Job growth between 2014 and 2024 is expected to reach 9 percent, equaling 34,700 new positions over that time period.

In 2005, CVS Health was the first employer to launch a U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) Registered Apprenticeship for pharmacy technicians. Since then, the company has placed more than 1,500 registered apprentices in retail pharmacy and management. The company is committed to doubling that number by 2020.

Part of that effort includes CVS’s Registered Apprenticeship partnership with Houston Community College (HCC), made possible through a DOL American Apprenticeship Grant. The grant will support 385 pharmacy-technician apprenticeships in the Houston area.

“Once students get done with the pre-apprenticeship training, they’re going to be able to transition into an apprenticeship at CVS, which then, hopefully, will transition into a full-time position.”

The apprenticeship is still in the early stages of development, but HCC has plans to launch its first class of apprentices in 2016.

HCC pharmacy-technician students entering the apprenticeship program will qualify for free tuition for the semester-long program. In addition to 16 weeks of academic courses and clinical rotations, students will undergo a four-week pre-apprenticeship while still enrolled at HCC.

“HCC is going to provide a pre-apprenticeship training,” says Jeff Gricar, director of the pharmacy-technician program at HCC’s Coleman College for Health Sciences. “Once students get done with the pre-apprenticeship training, they’re going to be able to transition into an apprenticeship at CVS, which then, hopefully, will transition into a full-time position. This is an avenue for people who want to get into the workforce quickly.”

Apprentices will be eligible for hire at CVS Pharmacy stores and the CVS/caremark Call Center, where they will get “job-related technical instruction, professional mentorship, and on-the-job learning,” according to a HCC press release on the initiative.

Pharmacy-technician students, including those at HCC, benefit from on-the-job training and subsequent opportunities for employment, and apprenticeships are a boon for CVS as well.

“At CVS Health, we know the value of investing in the communities we serve, particularly in workforce development,” David Casey, vice president of workforce strategies and chief diversity officer, said in a press release. “Through programs such as Registered Apprenticeships, we are not only helping to equip community members and potential job candidates with the tools they need to succeed in their careers, we are also ensuring that our company has a strong pipeline of talented colleagues.”

Does your college work with the local community to offer apprenticeships? Tell us about it in the comments.

Sarah Asp Olson

is a contributor to the 21st-Century Center.

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