The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) describes apprenticeships as “a proven path to high-quality, secure, middle-class jobs,” and in support of these programs, the DOL recently awarded $10.4 million in ApprenticeshipUSA State Accelerator Grants.
The DOL reports that apprenticeship programs benefit both apprentices and employers. In fact, the vast majority of apprentices (87%) are employed after completing their programs, and their average starting wage tops $50,000, according to the DOL.
In addition, “international studies suggest that for every dollar spent on apprenticeship, employers may get an average of $1.47 back in increased productivity, reduced waste, and greater front-line innovation,” the DOL states.
Each of the 51 states and territories, as well as the District of Columbia, was awarded a $200,000 grant in this round of awards, which is part of a $90 million investment in the fiscal year 2016 spending bill to expand registered apprenticeship programs.
Next, the DOL expects to announce the availability of $50 million in State Expansion Grants to help expand states’ capacity to collaborate with employers and launch apprenticeship programs across a variety of industries and communities. “The expansion grants will help states integrate apprenticeship into their education and workforce systems; engage industry and other partners at scale to expand apprenticeship to new sectors and new populations; support state capacity to conduct outreach and work with employers to start new programs; provide support to promote greater inclusion and diversity in apprenticeship; and implement state innovations, incentives, and system reforms,” the DOL states.
In addition, $30 million in grants are earmarked for industry partnerships in fast-growing and high-tech industries and for efforts to increase diversity and to make it easier for employers to offer—and for workers to find—apprenticeship opportunities.
“There is a bright future for apprenticeship in America,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez. “The investments that we’re making today and in the weeks and months to come are about giving apprenticeship the greater stature it deserves, helping more employers get the talent they need and helping more workers punch their ticket to the middle class.”
Since 2014, the country has added more than 75,000 new apprenticeships, which the DOL describes as “the largest increase in nearly a decade.” Other recent investments in apprenticeships include $175 million in grants awarded last fall to 46 public/private partnerships between employers, organized labor, nonprofits, local governments, and educational institutions. Over the next 5 years, those grant recipients are planning to create and fill more than 34,000 new apprentices in high-growth and high-tech industries, such as health care, IT, and advanced manufacturing.