Madden Industrial Craftsmen Sets Apprenticeship Example

Published Wednesday, August 8, 2018

One of the biggest challenges facing Oregon manufacturers is the skills gap, as openings go unfilled because of a lack of qualified applicants. Oregon Business & Industry (OBI) member Madden Industrial Craftsmen is helping businesses bridge this gap.

Madden, a Beaverton-based temporary staffing agency specializing in manufacturing, had 2,000 employees on its payroll in 2017 – for periods ranging from less than a day to the entire year. With the Oregon unemployment rate at 4 percent, manufacturers are relying more on staffing agencies such as Madden to help them meet immediate production needs. That demand has boosted business for Madden, which has staffing offices in Beaverton and three Washington cities – Vancouver, Renton and Everett.

But the third-generation family business is doing much more than helping businesses fill immediate, short-term openings. Madden has launched an innovative initiative, the Madden Apprenticeship Program (MAP), that it hopes will be part of a long-term solution to manufacturers’ staffing challenges.

Kelsey Madden, corporate recruiting manager, said the program aims to address two significant policy challenges: the skills gap in manufacturing and the need for increased opportunities for students who don’t pursue a four-year degree after high school. “Overall, there’s just not enough tradespeople out there,” Madden said. “We’re adding flexibility to the traditional apprenticeship model.”

There’s no question about the demand for apprenticeships. More than half of all job openings require more than a high school degree but less than a four-year college degree. In 2016, about 500,000 U.S. workers were employed though apprenticeships, a number that could have been significantly higher if more programs existed. To see more information on apprenticeships from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, click here.

OBI shares Madden’s concern about the skills gap and continues to advocate for legislative and regulatory policies to help develop the workforce of the future.

In fact, MAP is an example of how rules and regulations affect creation of a new program. Madden started working on its apprenticeship program after the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Apprenticeship issued a Standard Operating Procedure revising its policy for handling applications from temporary staffing agencies.

The rule change allowed Madden to start the nation’s first registered apprenticeship program managed by a staffing agency. Madden arranges education partnerships with community colleges, screens candidates and handles payroll and human resources administration. Employers gain access to apprentices without having to go through the time-consuming certification process or make a four-year commitment.

Madden’s initial apprenticeship – the first participants will start classes in September – is for industrial fabrication welders. Madden chose an area in which it has deep experience. In addition to providing workers for other companies, Madden owns and operates Madden Fabrication, best known for doing the fabrication for the Portland Loo toilets.

Creation of MAP was made possible in part by community alliances that Madden already had built. The company works closely with Portland Community College, where the company endows scholarships, high schools and WorkSource Oregon. Madden also sponsors Manufacturing Day events and is active in the Lines for Life abuse and suicide prevention program.

Madden also is involved with one of Oregon’s most significant manufacturing-training breakthroughs, the Oregon Manufacturing Innovation Center (OMIC) in Scappoose. The new center aims to both develop a new generation of manufacturing workers and new technologies and processes for manufacturers.

Innovations such as MAP and OMIC could help Oregon set a national example for how to reduce the skills gap.