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End of Year Gathering for Apprentices

With the season coming to a close, the RINLA team hosted a meeting with Registered Apprentices to gather their feedback from the year and to announce upcoming opportunities for them. Most pertinent was a review of applying for unemployment and the many mishaps that can spring up along the way. The green industry being made up of largely seasonal occupations, filing for unemployment is very much a necessity and a tool for survival for workers, to get them through the winter and into next year’s return to work. One of the benefits of registering for apprenticeship is that one no longer needs to conduct a work search during this time off, as it is seen as a temporary lay off period. Of course, it is helpful to have a return date from one’s employer to report to the Department of Labor and Training (DLT). RINLA encourages any apprentice having difficulty with their unemployment claim to contact us so we can help sort it out. Please reach out to Mason or Christie, whose contact info is at the bottom of this page.

Another important item on the agenda was enrollment forms for DLT. Any worker enrolled in Registered Apprenticeship needs to have filled out an enrollment form. This enables the apprentice to receive credit for all of their logged activities. If one needs to file, or check on the status of their form, they can contact Christie Milligan, Director of Workforce Programs, who oversees Registered Apprenticeship. If one has questions about their progress through the program, and the status of Related Training Instruction (RTI) hours or On-The-Job hours, they can consult their employer or contact Christie. To review the list of competencies for Level 1 and Level 2, please log into Tovuti and find them on the dashboard. 

Ideally, the end of the season is the perfect time for supervisors to sit down with their staff and go over evaluations. For apprentices, a review of their progress as it relates to this program should be included. Evaluations are critical opportunities for employees to come to an understanding on the measure of their abilities as it relates to the job and how well they are meeting an employer’s expectations of them. We encourage employers to conduct at least two evaluations per season with their employees while enrolled in apprenticeship. Employers, feel free to reference our sample evaluation form here!

As a way to offer more support to employers, RINLA is hosting a full-day Mentorship and Evaluation Workshop on December 8th in Warwick. Sign-ups can be made here. This is a great opportunity for business owners, managers and supervisors to come together and learn techniques for effective communication in the workplace. Supervisors of Registered Apprentices are particularly encouraged to attend. For more information, please reach out to Mason or Christie.

The team also covered some upcoming opportunities for Apprentices to accrue RTI (Related Training Instruction) hours. RINLA will be holding Plant Identification classes this January and February, featuring 6-8 sessions. These will be a collection of classroom and site visits. First priority will go to those already enrolled in our Rhode Island Certified Horticulturist program (RI-CH), with remaining seats being offered to Registered Apprentices. Sitting for the Plant ID exam at the end of this course will also count towards RI-CH, if one is planning to enroll in the future.

Beyond this, the crew made mention of the upcoming Growing Futures Career Catalyst (GFCC) paid training program that is set to take place from January 22 to February 23, 2024. For this we are looking for experienced crew leaders to oversee working crews of inexperienced or new-to-the-industry trainees looking for jobs in the industry. The training takes place over five weeks in Arcadia Management Area, by the end of which graduates will get the chance to sit for interviews with RINLA member companies with the very real chance of being placed in the job of their choice. Registered Apprentices working as crew leaders for us can gain valuable leadership and management experience they can take back with them to their jobs. They also have the opportunity to mentor and connect with the next generation of workers for the plant-based industry.

Looking forward to the end of winter and into next spring, RINLA is also planning to embark on another trip to Prudence Island for a follow up on our Invasives Management Training this fall, netting Apprentices some more experience identifying and removing invasive plants. This will be an opportunity for participants to work with the Department of Environmental Management and help restore regions of our state’s most delicate natural spaces. And before the close of winter, our Winter Intensive will offer Registered Apprentices new and old a jam-packed week of enrichment specially selected to kick off their year with a hefty accumulation of RTI across an array of competencies. For more on this, please stay tuned!

For more information or to sign up for any of these activities, please reach out to us!

Christie Milligan

Director of Workforce Programs 

Mason Billings

Program Associate & Resources Coordinator


Written by Mason Billings

Photos by Jordan Miller