Nov. 13 - 19 is National Apprenticeship Week: Evidence builds on the value of apprenticeships

Research by Upjohn Institute staff shows that apprenticeships offer a cost-effective means for paving a pathway to a well-paying career—including for disconnected youth.

For example, the Institute’s Kevin Hollenbeck and Wei-Jang Huang examined 11 workforce development programs in the State of Washington and found substantial positive returns on investment for government from secondary and postsecondary career and technical education (CTE), but particularly from apprenticeships. As the figure shows, returns are positive for all three types of CTE, but apprenticeships returned over 18 times cost in working lifetime earnings.

In 2015, the U.S. Department of Labor announced $175 million in grants to help with apprenticeships, with awards going to 46 organizations, institutions, and businesses pledging to train workers in a number of fields including health care, information technology, and advanced manufacturing. This initiative dubbed the American Apprenticeship Initiative, is the first major investment in apprenticeship by the federal government.

More recently, the USDOL awarded an additional $50.5 million in apprenticeship grants to 36 states and one territory. The Employment Management Services Division of the Upjohn Institute received a subgrant to promote apprenticeship in Southwest Michigan.

While apprentices traditionally begin training at age 24 or older, in an article in the Institute’s “Employment Research” newsletter Hollenbeck describes efforts to find productive careers for the 6.7 million people in the United States between the ages of 16 and 24 who are unemployed, not in school, and lack a postsecondary credential. Preapprenticeships, he says, particularly when used as part of a targeted sectoral initiative, may serve as a useful “earn as you learn” option for providing training and career opportunities for this often disengaged population. Read the article Sectoral Initiatives and Opportunity Youth.