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Apprenticeship in US – A key component to the solution to the skills gap

Apprenticeship programs, when implemented effectively, provide workers with a career path featuring paid on-the-job training, skills development, and mentorship, while at the same time providing employers with a steady source of highly trained and productive workers. These programs have the potential to grow into a critical and successful component of America’s workforce strategy, but are currently underutilized. Meanwhile, the American higher education system is churning out a pool of in-debt job seekers who are not equipped to meet the skills needs of many employers in the modern American economy. Recognizing this state of affairs, President Trump issued Executive Order (E.O.) 13801, Expanding Apprenticeships in America, which required the establishment of a Task Force on

Apprenticeship Expansion to identify strategies and recommendations to promote apprenticeships, especially in sectors where apprenticeship programs are insufficient

The Task Force, which is comprised of 20 highly experienced members representing a balanced range of perspectives, met multiple times beginning in November 2017, and concluding in May 2018. The full Task Force was subdivided into the following subcommittees: (1) Education and Credentialing; (2) Attracting Business to Apprenticeship; (3) Expanding Access, Equity, and Career Awareness; and (4) Administrative and Regulatory Strategies to Expand Apprenticeship. Each subcommittee met individually to develop the strategies and recommendations identified in this report, which are summarized below. The subcommittees presented their recommendations and rationale to the full Task Force, which deliberated and voted to send the recommendations forward.

The Subcommittee on Education and Credentialing recommended that Industry-Recognized Apprenticeship programs expand more traditional work-and-learn models to achieve higher levels of employer engagement and better outcomes; include work-based learning and performance assessment; and feature national recognition and portability of standards-based, industry- recognized credentials, the requirements for which should be articulated by the public-private sector partners implementing the programs. In addition, the Subcommittee recommended that the Federal partners of the Industry-Recognized Apprenticeship program should implement and support strategies for making technical instruction more affordable for apprentices. Lastly, the Subcommittee recommended that the Federal Government identify and make available capacity- building resources for certifying organizations, institutions of higher education, and other service providers. The Subcommittee also recommended that employers should partner in planning for and building capacity.


Industry-recognized apprenticeships must include work-based learning and performance assessment to ensure that the individual can apply knowledge, skills, and abilities related to the job, as well as obtain the education credentials needed to advance on the job and in his/her career. Certifiers of Industry-Recognized Apprenticeships should help ensure those apprenticeships incorporate the core components of the most successful work-and-learn models, namely:
A. Blended Learning
B. Credit for Prior Knowledge and Experience
C. Industry-Recognized Skill Standards and Credentials
D. Structured Mentorship
E. Paid Work Experience and Advancement Opportunities
F. Portable, Industry-Recognized Credentials, Program Completion Certificates, and/or Degrees with Demonstrable Labor Market Value


To rely on standards-based, nationally portable, industry-recognized credentials as a key element of Industry-Recognized Apprenticeship program quality assurance and accountability, the public-private sector partners implementing these programs should articulate the requirements for standards-based, nationally portable, industry-recognized credentials.


The Subcommittee on Attracting Business to Apprenticeship recommended that the Industry- Recognized Apprenticeship program should streamline and simplify program funding through various methods, such as updating Federal funding criteria, streamlining State grant access, and exploring sector-led financial options. In addition, the Subcommittee recommended that the U.S. Department of Labor, along with other Federal agencies and industry groups, should conduct and make available a needs analysis to identify existing skills shortages and quantify the benefits of apprenticeships in meeting labor challenges, and also compile apprenticeship information in a single, online, centralized website.

The Subcommittee on Expanding Access, Equity, and Career Awareness recommended that the to expand access to and incentivize the use of an “earn-and-learn” model for employers and apprentices. To ensure equity of access to Industry-Recognized Apprenticeship programs, the Subcommittee recommended that the U.S. Department of Labor should implement clear guidelines and fund community-based organization efforts, and certifiers and sponsors should develop comprehensive outreach strategies. Lastly, the Subcommittee recommended that the U.S. Department of Labor should vet concerns about the existing Registered Apprenticeship system and take action to make improvements.

The Subcommittee on Administrative and Regulatory Strategies to Expand Apprenticeship recommended that implementation of an Industry-Recognized Apprenticeship program should begin with a pilot project in an industry without well-established Registered Apprenticeship programs. The Subcommittee also recommended that the Industry-Recognized Apprenticeship programs should focus on mastery and competency, not just seat-time or training hours, and that program implementation guidelines should spell out the quality standards. In addition, the Subcommittee recommended that Industry-Recognized Apprenticeship program participants cannot be considered as apprentices for the purpose of meeting the Davis-Bacon Act wage requirements (for the construction industry), and that programs are not required to follow specific wage progression rules but clarify to apprentices what wages they will be paid and under what circumstances wages will increase. Lastly, this Subcommittee categorized key questions highlighted by their recommendations and recommended several administrative reforms and changes that could be made to the Registered Apprenticeship system that would also expand apprenticeship utilization in the United States.

Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor. Read the whole story at TASK FORCE ON APPRENTICESHIP EXPANSION – Final Report to the President of the United States

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