Evidence builds on the value of apprenticeships

Graph on apprenticeship programs

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

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.

Recently, President Obama announced $175 million in Department of Labor 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 is the first major investment in apprenticeship by the federal government.

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.


Kevin M. Hollenbeck headshot

Kevin M. Hollenbeck

Economist Consultant

Research Topics: Public Training Programs