By Christina Gordley & Dexter Horne
National Apprenticeship Week (NAW) is November 8-14, 2020! The week is a nationwide celebration sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor to unite business leaders, job seekers, educational institutions and other vital partners to show their support for apprenticeships. National Apprenticeship Week allows apprenticeship sponsors to highlight the benefits of apprenticeships and exhibit the ways in which they can provide a gateway for individuals to join the workforce. States can benefit too; the wide range of public and private apprenticeships showcased during this week serve as models for the types of programs that could be implemented at the state level.
Apprenticeships provide vital hands-on technical training for individuals seeking to gain new skills and employment while allowing them to earn a paycheck. Apprenticeships also help individuals gain the skills and experience needed to help employers build a skilled talent base customized to their needs as industry demands change. According to Apprenticehips.gov, workers who complete apprenticeship programs earn an average salary of $70,000. Successful apprenticeship programs can bring significant value to a state through worker employability, productivity and earnings potential.
Registered Apprenticeships vs. Work-based learning
The Registered Apprenticeship Program (RAP) is a proven model that has been validated by the U.S. Department of Labor or a state apprenticeship agency. Apprentices are paid employees that develop skills in a structured work setting. Their training is enhanced with classroom education and professional mentorship. Upon completion of the apprenticeship, the apprenticeship receives a national portable credential.
Work-based learning (WBL) initiatives range from internships, apprenticeships, mentorships, job-shadowing, and classroom learning. Through these initiatives, states can provide individuals the opportunity to develop hard and soft skills to succeed in the workplace. Work-based learning programs are different from registered apprenticeships in that not all participants are paid employees and participants may not receive a nationally recognized and/or portable credential. However, WBL initiatives are a valuable training activity that should be considered by states and employers.
Benefits for Employers
For employers, major benefits to apprenticeships include:
· Customized training tailored to industry specific needs resulting in skilled employees.
· Increased knowledge transfer between the on-the job-learning from a mentor in conjunction with education courses.
· Greater employee retention.
· Pipeline of stable and reliable qualified workers.
· Tax credits and other incentives, including potential access to funding and resources from federal programs.
· National industry recognition as a quality program.
· Industries who focus on safety training during apprenticeships can increase workplace safety among new employees leading to a reduction in workers compensation costs.
Benefits for States
Apprenticeships are not only beneficial for the employer and employee, but to entire state economies. For states, major benefits to apprenticeships include:
· Increased access to talent pools which can reduce the industry costs of turnover in a community.
· Reduced barriers to high skilled jobs, creating a workforce that can fill industry specific employment gaps.
· Decreased unemployment rates and an improved state economy.
· Increased earnings potential for workers; and as a result, an increase in spending capacity for workers and tax base for state governments.
· Models for state government apprenticeship programs that can help states attract and retain a skilled public workforce.
· Potential federal funding for apprenticeship expansion.
· The opportunity to attract new industries to states.
Private sector apprenticeship programs are primarily financed by the employer, with state funding acting as an additional investment. Employers might pay wages and finance any classroom instruction, while state funding acts as a strong incentive for businesses to develop these programs. State funding can supplement apprenticeship programs by subsidizing wages, covering any credentialing costs, and providing resources for technical assistance.
Federal Fund opportunities are also available to assist states in the expansion of apprenticeship programs for public and private sector apprenticeships. The U.S. Department of Labor has announced federal funding awards totaling $183.8 million to support the development and expansion of apprenticeships for educational institutions partnering with companies, with an additional $100 million for efforts to expand apprenticeships and close the skills gap. Recently the Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration announced funding of over $42 Million in grant awards to increase youth participation in Registered Apprenticeships.
Events and Resources on Apprenticeships
There are many events and resources available for states, employers and job seekers to learn more about the benefits and how to engage in an apprenticeship program. Here are a few to get you started:
· The Council of State Governments is currently hosting the CSG2020 National Conference Reimagined. On October 28th, 2020, CSG partnered with the Urban Institute to host a virtual conversation on Utilizing Public Sector Apprenticeships to Improve Employment Outcomes. The session covered the benefits of civic sector and inclusive apprenticeships and shared case studies from Massachusetts and Ohio. View the session recording and transcript here. · In 2019, CSG published The Future of the Workforce: Approaches to Increasing Access and Inclusion report, in partnership with The U.S. Department of Labor Office of Disability Employment Policy’s State Exchange on Employment and Disability. The report serves as a
resource providing policy options and best practices to states focused on apprenticeship, automation and technology and the gig economy. The report highlighted the benefits to apprenticeships for private and public sector employers and how they can be pivotal in creation of the future workforce that is not limited to traditional trades but can also include health care, information technology, financial services and civil service.
· See our blog on Building Inclusive Apprenticeships: Upcoming Webinars Discuss Design and Funding Strategies discussing the benefits of inclusive apprenticeships and the AIM Research Brief Series. Read the blog here.
· Learn more about National Apprenticeship Week, events across the nation, and how to get started with an apprenticeship program at www.apprenticeship.gov