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The State of Apprenticeship in the United States

Today, the federal government spends $18 billion for on-the-job training to help workers secure the skills and training they need to access in-demand, well-paying jobs. That number is dwarfed by the estimated $600 billion a year that employers spend on formal and informal training. Employers clearly are committed to investing in their workers. The question is, could those investments be made more efficiently and effectively and tap into a segment of the U.S. workforce that is currently most in need of training on-ramps and upskilling?

Whereas apprenticeships are well established in other countries like Germany and Switzerland, it has been harder for them to take root here in the United States. Our European counterparts see apprenticeship meeting a real need for skill and talent in the workplace. What can be done in the United States to build local capacity and infrastructure for some of the newer industries that may not see apprenticeship as a talent solution?

“America needs its own version of apprenticeship,” according to Jennifer Carlson, executive director of the Washington Technology Industry Association’s Workforce Institute and Apprenti, its nationally registered tech apprenticeship program. “Our industry has shorter term timelines and ever shifting skill needs. An IT company cannot conceive of waiting four years for a fully trained employee like they do in Switzerland, but the core principles of apprenticeship still work. Employers are already making serious human capital investments to recruit, train, and onboard employees and still not getting the work-ready pipeline of talent they need; those engaging in apprenticeship structure realize how effective and cost efficient it can be in producing employees with highly sought-after competencies and skills.”

The U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL)’s Office of Apprenticeship, which administers the Registered Apprenticeship System, has a process for registering apprenticeships where “sponsors” agree to design and execute apprenticeship programs that meet certain standards:

  • Business plays an active role in building the program and the skills needed for workforce success form the core of the model
  • On-the-job training is conducted under the direction of one or more of the employer’s personnel
  • Apprentices receive related instruction or classroom style training that complements the on-the-job training
  • Participants are paid by employers during training and receive increases in pay as their skills and knowledge increase
  • Graduates receive an industry-recognized credential that certifies occupational proficiency

Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor. Read the whole story at  Apprenticeship in Brief | Committee for Economic Development of The Conference Board

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