The Largest Apprenticeship Investment in U.S. History

Recently posted on the Department of Labor's blog HERE by Secretary Tom Perez, this article seems relevent to our industry, where we rely so heavily on (and profit so much from!) apprenticships.  We know it is a tried and true method of entering the workforce, but will other industries catch on with funding incentives like this? 

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Since Day One, the Obama administration has been focused on building a training and workforce system that serves job seekers and job creators alike. We’re empowering people with the tools to punch their ticket to the middle class, while giving employers a pipeline of skilled workers so they can grow and compete in the 21st-century economy.

That’s why we’re doubling down on apprenticeship, a tried and true, earn-while-you-learn model. Every business I visit that has an apprenticeship program swears by it. They talk about the incredible return on investment: greater worker productivity, higher retention rates, reduced injuries and improved morale they see from their apprentices.

And for the apprentices themselves, the benefits are undeniable. The average starting salary upon graduation is $50,000. An apprentice will earn an average of $300,000 more in wages and benefits over his or her career than peers who haven’t apprenticed. Apprenticeship offers a smooth pathway to the middle class and to a college degree for those who wish to continue their education and training. I like to call it the other college – without the debt.

President Obama has made it clear that apprenticeships are critical to the strength of our workforce and our economy. Today, at Macomb Community College in Michigan, he announced the most significant apprenticeship investment in our nation’s history − $175 million to 46 grantees across the country who will develop or expand apprenticeships in high-growth industries.

These grants are expected to create 34,000 new apprenticeship positions, and they will catalyze additional partnerships and innovation that will further expand the apprenticeship ecosystem. The grants will help us stay on the apprenticeship cutting edge in the skilled trades, an edge sharpened largely thanks to the leadership of the labor movement; and they will also facilitate growth in industries that haven’t traditionally taken advantage of apprenticeships, like health care, finance and IT.

And this isn’t just about growing apprenticeships. It’s about extending them to more people. A number of grantees, like Focus Hope in Detroit and the OpenTech Los Angeles Regional Apprenticeship Collaborative, will use funding to open the apprenticeship door more widely to traditionally underrepresented populations, including at-risk youth and communities struggling with high crime and poverty rates.

Yesterday, over 100 Apprenticeship “LEADERs” convened for a historic afternoon at the first White House Summit on Apprenticeship, where they shared best practices, strategized and affirmed their commitments to be LEADERs. The LEADERs are employers, unions, community colleges and other organizations who have committed to grow the apprenticeship movement in their communities. Among the LEADERs who attended the summit were top-level executives from major corporations like Alcoa, IBM, CVS Health and Nestle that have committed to spreading the apprenticeship gospel. During the summit, we also announced that the first annual National Apprenticeship Week, which will take place this year from Nov. 2 – 8. We are looking for every community to lift up the work they are doing on apprenticeship. Go to www.dol.gov/apprenticeship to learn more and to tell us about your local community events.

This morning, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that there are a record 5.8 million job openings nationwide. We need to give more people the training that will allow them to fill those positions. Apprenticeship is an essential building block of the modern skills infrastructure we’re constructing.  President Obama has set a goal of doubling the number of apprenticeships in five years. With today’s historic investment and changing perceptions around apprenticeship, we have an opportunity to keep the momentum up on apprenticeship, scale our work and provide generations of Americans with a sustained path to the middle class.

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