Reflections on National Apprenticeship Week and AAUW Greensboro

FROM: Laura Tew, President AAUW Greensboro; November 29th 2021

We have experienced an exciting and inspiring week, and I would like to share some thoughts with AAUW members in our branch and throughout North Carolina.

National Apprenticeship Week is being recognized for the 7th consecutive year.

In 2015, when National Apprenticeship Week was first announced, AAUW Greensboro was highly engaged with programs for women and girls that promoted attainment of college degrees especially in STEM and workplace skills such as salary negotiation.

  • Our STEM outreach programs, Triad Tech Savvy and IT Is For Girls, were well established. We had received funding from AAUW National with a Community Action Grant as well as three Tech Savvy start up grants. We had found other local resources with very significant in-kind support from UNC Greensboro, as well as local companies such as Lincoln Financial, VF Foundation, and Syngenta.
  • Our WorkSmart salary negotiation skills workshops were being offered throughout the Triad with a grant from Wells Fargo Foundation.
  • We had established StartSmart collaboratives with several local colleges and universities to support salary negotiation skills for graduating seniors.
  • AAUW Greensboro members were involved with Degrees Matter, an initiative of the Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro with 2013 grant funding from Lumina Foundation.

We were working hard and we were learning from students, parents, and especially from working women! Women could not negotiate their way into better paying careers if they weren’t prepared with credentials and experience.

While Greensboro had a well organized workforce development program, North Carolina’s efforts at teen and adult apprenticeships were just getting started. Things started to change. 

In 2015, the year that National Apprenticeship Week was started, the General Assembly transferred ApprenticeshipNC to the community college system, and by 2017,  the number of people served by program has jumped by 44%.

In 2018, our Degrees Matter team was told that their funding was ending, and they started reaching out to learn how they might be better positioned to offer not just degrees but career credentials that would give Guilford County teens and adults a better chance at better jobs.

  • Degrees Matter personnel moved on to make a bigger difference elsewhere – Jason Caldwell in high ed and Tiffany Jacobs in community colleges.
  • AAUW National awarded a Community Action Grants to the Community Foundation to continue the efforts of Degrees Matter but focused on preparing Women for Nontraditional Careers. In partnership with Joe Rotundi at The Forge, an adult makerspace in downtown Greensboro, AAUW helped fund programs to introduce women to trade skills such as welding.
  • AAUW Greensboro discontinued WorkSmart workshops for women and started conversations directly with employers such as the City of Greensboro and the Triangle Industry Liaison Council. We had learned that in order for women to get jobs, employers needed to level the playing field, offer better training at entry levels, and accept non-traditional credentials.
  • Community networks started to sprout.
  • The Guilford Apprenticeship Partner program for high school students became an organized and effective resource for Guilford County Schools, resulting in annualized double digit growth in youth apprenticeships and pre-apprenticeships.
  • Low hanging fruit, such as military personnel transitions, were activated to increase adult apprenticeships with willing employers who started to be compensated and rewarded for signing up.
  • Non-profits, such as Nehemiah Empowerment Center, geared up to prepare adult apprentices and to hire adult apprentices.
  • AAUW Greensboro Kick-off for Women in Non-Traditional Careers, June 18th 2018 at HQ Greensboro

Cherrie Wheaton, representing AAUW North Carolina, welcomed members and guest and also introduced Mary Williams-Stover, executive director of the North Carolina Department of Administration (DOA) Women’s and Children’s Advocacy. which has recently issued a new report on The Status of Women in North Carolina: Employment and Earnings.

Lena Murrill-Chapman, incoming president of AAUW Greensboro, welcomes members and community to this very important gathering which launched a new program funded with an AAUW National Community Action Grant. You will be hearing more about this initiative throughout the year as it opens up careers for women through a program that will offer introductory welding for women at The Forge in Greensboro.

New AAUW Greensboro member, Tiffany Jacobs, associate director of Degrees Matter!, explains her role in helping women 18 and older enroll in the welding program AND make decisions about their future.


In 2019, AAUW Greensboro had a better understanding that it could also play an effective roll in supporting women in apprenticeships.

  • The Greensboro Women’s Professional Forum Foundation awarded a Grant to AAUW Greensboro to assist women directly to transition into certification and degree programs that would result in employment in logistics and advanced manufacturing.

In 2020, AAUW Greensboro elevated Women in Nontraditional Careers (WINc) to a board level appointed committed, AND we were ready to issue our first proclamation in support of National Apprenticeship week in November 2020.

In 2021, AAUW Greensboro (even through the pandemic and all of the educational and employment challenges), continued its STEM outreach program, and expanded its efforts in promoting and supporting apprenticeships for women.

We issued our 2021 Proclamation on the Apprenticeship NC website. Tiffany Jacobs reported to our membership the Nehemiah Empowerment Center apprenticeship signing event at which AAUW Greensboro attended and spoke.

AAUW Greensboro is convinced that its 21st Century mission for women includes support skills and certifications, along with apprenticeship pathways, that enable and empower women into careers that not only bridge the wage gap but offer opportunities for advancement and financial security.



AAUW Greensboro member Suzanne Goodell volunteers during Guilford Education Alliance Principal for a Day program at Andrews High School. While there, Suzanne learned about the aviation academy apprenticeship program