Publication Date

Spring 2020

Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Randy Capps (Director) Lester Archer, and Robert Boone

Degree Program

Department of Educational Administration, Leadership, and Research

Degree Type

Doctor of Education


The United States Department of Labor (DOL) has defined an apprenticeship as a combination of on-the-job training and related classroom instruction in which workers learn the practical and theoretical aspects of a highly skilled occupation (Smith, 1996, p. 5). General Electric Appliances (GEA) has viewed the DOL model as a viable solution to the decreasing numbers of skilled workers available to employers. Leaders at GEA determined a void existed between the number of skilled workers needed for GEA operations compared to the number of skilled workers available. GEA apprentice programs were suspended in 1995 but reinstated in 2015 to address the skilled labor shortage. This study assessed the Federation of Advanced Manufacturing Education (FAME) apprentice program offered at GEA for entry-level employees and the more traditional Maintenance Apprentice Program (MAP) for incumbent GEA workers. The purpose of the study was to better understand the programs’ impact on employees compared to their perceptions of their career prior to entering the program. The primary research question was: What is the program impact on students who complete an apprenticeship through GEA? The secondary questions asked how mentorship, related technical instruction, and company-provided skills training contributed to the success of the student and the barriers that hindered student success.

The study involved 24 maintenance apprentices from both the FAME and MAP programs, as well as MAP and FAME graduates. All 58 current or former apprentices were asked to participate in personal interviews for the study, with 24 accepting. Interviews were conducted with participating apprentices, and observations were made of those apprentices on the job floor and at school. Feedback from mentors and GEA leaders was given to the researcher regarding the progress of apprentices participating in the program. In a structured interview, subjects were asked 10 questions relating to their overall experience in their respective program. Interviews were synthesized and analyzed for common patterns and themes. Results were organized by the research questions and summarized in outline form. The common themes that emerged were the following: (a) related technical instruction did not always align with in-plant instruction; (b) mentor engagement issues were present; (c) apprentices desired access to more technical training; and (d) some apprentices did not feel prepared to be journeypersons. MAP apprentices shared more challenges with work-life balance, related theoretical instruction (RTI) (Appendix D), and company seniority than the FAME participants. FAME apprentices struggled more with daily mentor placement in the early stages of their program than their MAP counterparts. Both MAP and FAME apprentices gave suggestions on that which they perceived as viable ways to improve the GEA program for current and future GEA apprentices.


Applied Behavior Analysis | Psychology