Missouri National Guard can now enhance their post-military careers with new apprenticeship program that rewards credit for military training

Members of Missouri’s National Guard can now earn a free apprenticeship certification for their military experience to give them better employment opportunities once they leave the military. 

The new program, originally called “Project Eagle,” is now active and has been formally renamed “Missouri National Guard Registered Apprenticeship Program.” The Missouri National Guard currently has over 11,500 members, all of whom are eligible for certifications.

According to Dr. Mardy Leathers, director of Missouri’s Office of Workforce Development, the program is tailored to a person’s specific role in the military. All 171 occupations within the Missouri Air and Army Guard are now apprenticeable, giving each participant an opportunity to receive a nationally recognized certificate. 

Leathers says the program could last anywhere from one to six years, depending on occupational choice and a participant’s schedule at hand. 

“When they decide to leave the Guard, they now have a nationally recognized certificate from the Department of Labor,” Dr. Leathers said. “They will have industry certifications, they will have their Guard time and all that transfers right into the private sector to help them be more prepared as community leaders and to help them be prepared as workers.”

If a Guard member has a speciality such as cybersecurity, logistics or survey design, the individual will receive on-the-job training and collect credits for performing their usual work duties. 

“We’re able to bring in more certificate programs,” Leathers said. “We always think of the Guard as doing a lot of drill, they are doing a lot of physical training. But they understand how to fix stuff like $35 million dollar airplanes when they break, operating the computer systems for our radar. Those are big deals. All of that is transferable outside of the Guard.”

Leathers said initial discussions for the program started three years ago before the pandemic put plans to an immediate halt. Thankfully, he said, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson has made the new program a major priority coming out of the pandemic. 

Dr. Leathers said he is extremely excited about the potential of the initiative and believes it presents a huge opportunity to attract more men and women to Missouri’s National Guard. According to Leathers, the new initiative is the largest public sector program of its kind in the country, as well as the largest military apprenticeship program in the country. 

“We are so proud of our military men and women here in Missouri,” Gov. Parson said in a statement. “This program, which takes military training and turns it into a nationally recognized credential, is just one more way we can show our support for the folks who serve and support us.”

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