Six Complete Reading Cooperative’s Inaugural Apprentice Program

First Bank In Massachusetts To Take Part In New Initiative

Keith Griffin

July 7, 2020

Reading Cooperative Bank apprentices

Reading Cooperative Bank announced the graduation of its first cohort of bank apprentices. Reading Cooperative is the first bank in Massachusetts to work with the Executive Office of Labor Workforce Development’s initiative to extend the apprenticeship process to non-trade related professions.

The initiative to start non-trade apprenticeships was born out of the desire by the state to extend the understanding and appreciation of the apprenticeship model. This model includes on-the-job training, mentorship and further education. The long-term goal is to create a skilled labor workforce beyond traditional trades.

State officials, according to a bank news release, recognize every sector of the economy can benefit from the apprenticeship training model. There is also the recognition that banking is a good career choice for people entering the financial sector, as it offers upward mobility, development and education reimbursements.

Six Reading Cooperative employees received the first ever certificates of completion in the Banking Apprenticeship Program. They were as follows:

Banking Specialist II

Justine Collins, Jake Gilbert, Karley Whitham, Jenna Kowal

Banking Specialist I

Wilbin Hiraldo


Matthew Arsenault

“All these employees entered Reading Cooperative Bank with no prior experience in the banking sector. Some are now fully functional, competent, full-service bankers,” remarked Maxine Hart, chief human resource officer.

The process starts, in many cases, at either one of Reading Cooperative’s two high school branches where students and, in many cases, future employees learn about banking. Both high school branches have been approved by the apprenticeship board as pre-apprenticeship sites.

These new employees go through an extensive and intensive in-house training process, working alongside other bankers with the expectation of completing the required competencies and hours for each position. Employees start off as tellers and, if successful, move to the banking specialist I role. This is then followed by the banking specialist II role, where employees can service customers with their deposit banking needs. Every assistant branch manager and most of the bank’s branch managers started out their careers in banking as tellers.

Reading Cooperative Bank has five additional apprentices who have joined the bank and enrolled in the apprenticeship program. The bank is working with the Division of Apprentice Standards to complete the required competencies with these new apprentices, certifying their continued growth and development.

The longer-term goal is to work with the Executive Office of Labor Workforce Development to extend the apprenticeship model to other areas of banking - most notably, careers in residential and commercial lending and information technology.

Reading Cooperative Bank is a depositor owned co-operative founded in 1886. It has branches in Reading, Wilmington, North Reading, Andover, and Burlington. They also operate teaching branches at Northeast Metro Tech in Wakefield (open to the public) and at Reading Memorial High School (students and staff only).

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