Running an Apprenticeship

What to consider when logging apprenticeship OJT hours

Joshua Monge
Joshua Monge
June 6, 2024

Logging hours can vary in complexity depending on the systems and processes in place within the apprenticeship program.

Here's a breakdown:

More art than science

One of the trickiest things to realize about logging on-the-job training (OJT) hours is that it is more art than science. There can be a false assumption that logging one's time is a straightforward task. It's often not. When an apprenticeship program is registered, all categories in the work process schedule are neatly separated with their goal hours. That separation doesn't exist perfectly in the real world.

Is the project I just worked on blind installation, hardware, or trim? It may have included all three. This lack of clarity can surprise newer programs, so it's important to set expectations with apprentices to do their best to allocate their time. Have them ask their supervisors if there are any questions since they'll approve.

Level of detail + Frequency

Another item to assess before setting expectations with apprentices is what level of detail they need to record their hours. Do you need a total for the month for each category? Or do you want your apprentices to break out their hours each day? Maybe you have six high-level categories, but you want apprentices to log their hours under subcategories for each category, which all add to a category total? Most apprenticeship programs require hours monthly. Will yours? Or is it preferable to mirror your company's payroll schedule? Is that payroll schedule weekly? Or biweekly?

Logging by hand

Traditionally, apprentices recorded their hours on a paper timesheet. (Sidenote: removing the need to do this by hand is how WorkHands got its start. If your apprentices are still submitting on paper, we can help). This method is straightforward to explain; however, it's hard to maintain. Your apprentices will sum up their hours incorrectly. Your admins will struggle to read their handwriting when transferring them to a database. You'll need to manually remind apprentices to submit the paper forms, or provide some way for them to scan to submit digitally.

Logging digitally

Many apprenticeship programs use digital platforms or applications (like WorkHands) to submit hours. These systems can streamline the process by allowing apprentices to input their hours directly into an online portal or mobile app. This cuts out many of the manual logging issues, however, it trades those for new ones.

You may need IT approval to start using an app. You may have union policies to navigate regarding device usage, and your apprentices and supervisors will need training.

Verification and approval

Once an apprentice logs hours, they need to be approved. Traditionally, apprentices put a piece of paper in front of a supervisor who simply signed off on those hours. If your program uses a digital platform, now you need your supervisor to pay attention to notices to approve hours.

In addition, many programs have an additional check to make sure apprenticeship hours fit within the total hours worked by the apprentice. If the apprentice logs 40 hours of OJT but only 35 hours for payroll, there's a problem. For a sole employer this may be a simple check, but for a multi-employer program, it often requires collecting a total payroll hours report as well.

Compliance and reporting

No matter how you log your apprentices' OJT, that information should be easily reviewable. You'll need to use these hours to determine wage increases, review for joint apprenticeship training committee meetings, or you'll periodically need to produce these hours to an apprenticeship training representative (ATR) as part of a periodic audit of your program.

Without ensuring all parties are on the same page about expectations, how to log, when to log, and what to log, you'll quickly run into difficulty managing those next wage progressions or producing usable data for an audit.

Overall, while logging hours may not be inherently complicated, it does require attention to detail and adherence to program protocols to ensure accuracy and compliance. Effective communication between apprentices and program administrators can help simplify the process and address any challenges that arise.