ACCELerate: Forging New Pathways, Accelerating the Workforce

It is a great time to engage with AAPA and take advantage of one of its newest programs, ACCELerate! As the steward of this brand-new initiative, AAPA is forging career pathways for American workers and building a future-proof workforce for a strong and secure transportation system. There are endless opportunities to get involved whether you are a port, industry solution provider, academic or workforce development director.

Born out of the Department of Labor Apprenticeships: Closing the Skills Gap Grant program, ACCELerate is a specialized program designed for employers, including ports, to upskill, reskill and educate their employees to fill critical roles in the supply chain through the tried and true model of apprenticeship. ACCELerate makes almost $6M available for AAPA to partner with employers to build and expand apprenticeship programs within the transportation and maritime industry.

ACCELerate is a sector-based apprenticeship program for middle- to high-skill jobs to bring new entrants into the workforce and “upskill” current incumbents. This will be done by creating or building on existing apprenticeship programs in transportation, cybersecurity, technology and advanced manufacturing. Registered apprenticeship is a structured method to provide training in critical occupations through paid on-the-job learning and related technical instruction (RTI). It is a proven method of developing a skilled, productive, loyal workforce of next-generation company supervisors and leaders.

AAPA has assembled a national team of contractors and internal staff with over 30 years of combined apprenticeship experience. Lead by Barbara Murray apprenticeship thought leader and veteran as grant director and AAPA vice president of external affairs, Mary Beth Long. Our team also includes two outside contractors, including Katie Adams, project manager and Dave Matsuda, senior advisor as well as AAPA staff to include Maranda Jones-Anderson, finance director and grant manager, Julie Barelas, program coordinator and Andrew Cameron, project assistant.

In addition, we have an incredible team of partners who lent their support to the project at the outset that include 10 employers (including port authorities), 3 institutions of higher education, 3 industry associations and 1 workforce intermediary. We are confident that the team we have assembled will enable us to implement a proposed plan to register more than 5,000 apprentices nationwide utilizing $5.8 million in USDOL funds awarded to the Association over the next four years.

Without a doubt apprenticeship is a sustainable method of addressing the workforce gaps in the supply chain. It is a way for ports to show leadership in their communities and to help workers throughout the supply chain gain access to the training necessary to improve efficiency. COVID-19, retirements, technological advances, a remote work environment and changes to cargo volumes have impacted employment. ACCELerate provides a platform for discussing the changing workforce needs of the industry and allows the industry to evolve and pivot to meet these needs.

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