The ninth annual National Apprenticeship Week takes place Nov. 13-19 with a week of celebrating the opportunities and value of apprenticeship. Founded by the U.S. Department of Labor (DoL) in 2015, the program was designed to address workforce shortages throughout the country.
This year’s theme of “Registered Apprenticeship: Superhighway to Good Jobs” drives home the idea that an industry-driven model of apprenticeship is a proven path to rewarding careers for next generation workers while also providing opportunities for employers to train, retain and upskill a talented workforce.
Ever-rising costs for a traditional four-year degree have many next generation workers unable or unwilling to sign off on large amounts of debt. Registered Apprenticeship’s earn-while-you learn model offers a ton of benefits and rewards, including:
- steady pay increases
- nationally recognized credential
- opportunities to secure quality healthcare
- pension benefits, and more
Strong incentives for the younger generation to enter the workforce.
Contractors that have utilized the Registered Apprenticeship training model report a 90% apprentice retention rate and an average ROI of $1.47 for every $1 spent on an apprentice. Registered Apprenticeship programs combine on-the-job training with classroom instruction and mentorship and is one of the best solutions for contractors looking to secure workers capable of keeping pace with evolving industry standards. This earn-while-you-learn approach increases employability, ensures quality of work and provides the foundation for a safer construction workforce.
For contractors, Registered Apprenticeship addresses a multitude of employment issues, including a more diverse and inclusive workforce, while replacing a retiring workforce with a skilled, younger generation of workers.
Additionally, apprenticeships offer organizational benefits, including:
- Improved work site productivity and company bottom lines
- Minimalized liability through on-the-job training
- Tax credits in participating states
ApprenticeshipUSA, a DoL resource for Registered Apprenticeship, reports that apprenticeships in the construction industry rose by 77% from 2013 to 2023 with more than 199,000 active apprentices currently enrolled.
Yet, despite a strong rise in Registered Apprenticeship enrollment, the construction sector’s aging and retiring workforce continues to impact performance and competitiveness, leaving contractors with a dearth of open positions to fill. The Associated General Contractors (AGC) of America reported that for 2022, 93% of members had open positions.
In March of this year, U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh announced the $20 million cooperative agreement partnering the DoL with non-profit TradesFutures and the National Urban League. The “Scaling Apprenticeship Readiness Across the Building Trades” initiative aims to enroll more than 13,000 participants, including women, veterans and people of color from underserved communities in Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Tennessee.
“Our cooperative agreement with TradesFutures and other partners will build on their proven success in using pre-apprenticeship and Registered Apprenticeships to develop an open and inclusive talent pipeline for construction and construction-related industries,” said Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh.
The agreement will serve to develop best practices and provide technical assistance to apprenticeship readiness programs in these states and others in future expansion efforts.
“We welcome this opportunity to help recruit the next infrastructure generation and look forward to maximizing these investments to the greatest extent possible by empowering communities with a stronger, more diverse and skilled local workforce,” said TradesFutures Executive Director Nicole Schwartz during the announcement.
Employers, would-be employees and the nation as whole benefit from the Registered Apprenticeship program as a mechanism for developing best practices for the construction and construction-related industries sectors.
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