Former Missouri workforce director Dr. Mardy Leathers will lead Apprenticeships for America's effort to support apprenticeship intermediaries and expand apprenticeships nationwide
WASHINGTON, May 1, 2023 /PRNewswire/ -- Apprenticeships for America (AFA), a national nonprofit focused on the critical role of apprenticeship intermediaries in scaling registered apprenticeships across industries, today announced the appointment of Dr. Mardy Leathers as its executive director. Dr. Leathers, who most recently served as Director of the Missouri Division of Workforce Development, brings nearly two decades of experience in workforce policy and practice to the role at a time of increasing national attention on the importance of work-based learning.
"Apprenticeships are the solution to a host of challenges plaguing the American workforce, from the ballooning cost (and questionable relevance) of many degree programs to widening skill gaps in the fastest-growing sectors of the economy," said Bob Lerman, co-founder of Apprenticeships for America. "Dr. Leathers' experience leading workforce development efforts at both the state and national level gives him a unique perspective on how business leaders, other employers, and policymakers can come together to build a better approach to apprenticeships in the United States. We are thrilled to welcome him to the AFA team, and look forward to his leadership as we work to empower apprenticeship intermediaries, scale registered apprenticeships, and restore learn-and-earn models to their rightful place at the center of the U.S. workforce system."
During his tenure at the Missouri Office of Workforce Development, Dr. Leathers developed and launched Apprenticeship Missouri, an initiative through the office of Governor Michael Parson, which registered nearly 30,000 apprentices from November 2019 through December 2022. He also designed and led the Missouri-United Kingdom Apprenticeship Partnership, a collaboration between the state's trade office and the UK Consulate focused on better aligning the public workforce system with the needs of the business community. On the national front, Dr. Leathers served as Chair of the Employment and Training Committee for the National Association of State Workforce Agencies and as Vice Chair of State Liaisons for Workforce Development Partnerships for the National Governors Association. Through his partnership with the Global Apprenticeship Network, he helped lead a recent study tour in Australia and New Zealand and will be a delegate to the International Labor Convention in Geneva, Switzerland this June.
"In today's increasingly volatile labor market, apprenticeships have emerged as a crucial strategy to connect workers to in-demand, sustainable careers," said Dr. Leathers. "Having been a supporter of work-based learning for more than a decade, I've seen firsthand the way apprenticeship intermediaries can help businesses bridge the gap from theory to practice. I'm honored to lead Apprenticeships for America and advance our crucial mission of expanding support for intermediary programs — and, in doing so, creating new paths to opportunity for workers."
Apprenticeships for America brings together a broad range of stakeholders including former senior federal policymakers, nonprofit leaders, employers, and training providers to boost not just awareness, but also funding and policy support, for apprenticeship intermediaries. Dr. Leathers' appointment will accelerate AFA's work to expand apprenticeship intermediaries that help businesses and policymakers close persistent talent gaps, and boost economic mobility for early-career workers.
Apprenticeships for America is also proud to announce that Sean Cartwright, the founding Executive Director of AFA, has joined its Board of Directors. A former Obama Administration political appointee at both the U.S. Department of Commerce and the U.S. Department of Labor, Mr. Cartwright has brought unique insight and expertise into policymaking at the Federal level to the organization.
About Apprenticeships for America
Apprenticeships for America (AFA) is a national nonprofit whose mission is to scale apprenticeship in the U.S. beyond traditional construction trades, provide career options, and widen direct paths to rewarding careers benefitting America's workers and helping employers grow their businesses with skilled workers.
Following the examples of more successful developed country competitors such as Australia, Canada, and the UK, AFA is focused on the critical role played by intermediaries (such as industry associations, community colleges, workforce boards, nonprofits, labor organizations, staffing, and business services firms) in building and operating apprenticeship programs for employers.
- AFA has built and mobilized a robust network of over 200 apprenticeship intermediaries, recruiting and incentivizing employers across growing industries and occupations and actively assisting them in developing, operating, and sustaining quality apprenticeship programs.
SOURCE Apprenticeships for America