Apprenticeship programs must comply with state and federal laws. Some industries also have management or labor organizations that set standards and supervise apprenticeship training. Make sure you understand and comply with any laws, regulations, or standards that apply to your program before you put it in place. These include:• The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA): This law requires that apprentices are at least 16 years old and sign an agreement to learn a skilled trade. • Wage regulations: Apprentices can be paid less than minimum wage. Usually, they begin at a third to half of the rate for skilled professionals, and their wages increase as they learn. Laws may require raises at given intervals, such after the first six months. • State laws: Individual states may have laws about the number of working hours allowed and the minimum wage required. If an apprentice ever performs the work of a professional—say, during a worker shortage—the pay must usually be a professional rate.A written agreement is useful for clarifying the terms of the apprenticeship for both the employer and the apprentice. This document should specify how the apprenticeship works; how long it will last; pay rates; and what work qualifies for pay. The Department of Labor is a great resource for employers interested in apprenticeships. You can even formally register your apprenticeship program with the agency. The Department’s Office of Apprenticeship will then work with you to design a training program and curriculum that fits your business. They will also help connect you with job seekers in your industry. You may even qualify for state tax benefits. You can learn more about apprenticeship by visiting the Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration.You may not have considered apprenticeship as a staffing solution in the past. But it’s an option worth thinking about, especially if you’re having a tough time finding skilled professionals. Apprenticeship programs are a valuable investment in your employees, your industry, and the future of your company.