Leaders Celebrate National Apprenticeship Week #NAW2021

As a small business, paperwork seems to be a common burden. Logistics take time. Time is valuable and has a cost associated with it. Women enterprise and small business owner Kelly Victor-Burke, CEO of Burke Architectural Millwork, experienced this as she began the Registered Apprenticeship (RA) program for her family-owned company in Livonia, MI.

“Our mission is to craft the finest architectural millwork, while actively supporting workforce development in woodwork manufacturing,” expressed Kelly.

Because of this, Kelly has been asked to speak about their successful RA at numerous conferences around the country and is a champion for connecting business owners with workforce agencies and colleges.


“I was introduced to apprenticeships from Schoolcraft College in 2017,” said Kelly. “They connected us with a student from manufacturing and the student wanted to be in an RA program. Schoolcraft College took the time to explain the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) RA program and then connected me with WIN (Workforce Intelligence Network).”

WIN is a non-profit collaborative of community colleges and Michigan Works! Agencies which established the Advance Michigan Center for Apprenticeship Innovation (AMCAI). Apprenticeship tools and resources in the State of Michigan can be found at miapprenticeship.org.


With the creation of an RA in her company Kelly had to update an existing RA program, which took three years to complete. She started her program with a traditional metal working trade. Although some of the metal manufacturing skills did transfer to woodworking it was not ideal for her company. Almost two years later with assistance from WIN, Schoolcraft, the Urban Institute, and a host of woodworking small and midsized enterprises a brand-new trade was approved by the DOL.

“We, in Michigan, are extremely fortunate because we have such great workforce development agencies and community colleges,” remarked Kelly. In 2019, WIN and Schoolcraft College hosted a meeting that initiated the creation of a new trade-Woodworking Manufacturing Specialist.

Burke Architectural Millwork’s apprentice Logan Leinbach is the first in the country to become a woodworking manufacturing specialist apprentice and is a leader in the woodworking industry. The RA program offers hands on skill training which is rooted in a STEAM education.


“The money helped too!” stated Kelly. “Not only does the State (of Michigan) have funding employers can receive, but the federal government does too.”

These funds can be used to help offset the cost of in-house training and/or be given back to the apprentice to support the Related Technical Instruction.

“There is a way you can work with them (U.S. Department of Labor), be the water that rolls around rocks,” affirmed Kelly. “You can receive support and funding. An apprenticeship coordinator can help you navigate the rapids.”

Apprenticeship coordinators can be found at workforce agencies like WIN, Michigan Works! and Community Colleges. Registered Apprenticeship is a proven and industry-driven training model, which provides a critical talent pipeline to address workforce challenges such as responding to supply chain demands, supporting clean energy, modernizing cybersecurity response, addressing public health issues, rebuilding our infrastructure and more.

“WIN has taken the paperwork and logistics burden away from me as a small business owner, “said Kelly. “I spend a lot of time explaining, to small businesses, what WIN does and it’s DOL standards.”

Through Kelly’s story we celebrate small business success and registered apprenticeship programs. Each year, in mid-November, the U.S. Department of Labor hosts National Apprenticeship Week. Workforce agencies, businesses and leaders come together to celebrate by hosting events showcasing the value of RA programs across the county. For a list of #NAW2021 events in Michigan Southeast Michigan visit the WIN events page by clicking here. 

For additional information about Registered Apprenticeships in Michigan or to start a RA program visit miapprenticeship.org. Photos courtesy of Burke Architectural Millwork.


The Workforce Intelligence Network for Southeast Michigan (WIN) is a collaborative effort between ten community colleges and seven Michigan Works! Agencies, in partnership with numerous other organizations, to create a comprehensive and cohesive workforce development organization  in Southeast Michigan providing employers with the talent they need for success. WIN covers a 19- county area, including Eaton, Genesee, Hillsdale, Huron, Ingham, Jackson, Lapeer, Lenawee, Livingston, Macomb, Monroe, Oakland, Sanilac, Shiawassee, St. Clair, Tuscola, Washtenaw, and Wayne. WIN was founded with the support of the New Economy Initiative for Southeast Michigan and celebrated 10 years of research, engagements, and solutions in 2021.


Read more about the author Alysha Albrecht by clicking here.












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