Frequently Asked Questions
WHAT IS REGISTERED APPRENTICESHIP?
Registered apprenticeship is a proven training strategy with related classroom instruction to prepare highly skilled workers for American industry. Apprenticeship, by virtue of its success in preparing skilled workers, helps America compete more effectively in the global economy, and contributes to America's economic development, sustained economic growth, and national security.
WHO DOES REGISTERED APPRENTICESHIP SERVE?
In the United States today, some 40,000 program sponsors offer registered apprenticeship training to approximately 325,000 apprentice. These training programs serve a divers population including minorities, women, youth, and dislocated workers. Currently, at least two-thirds of all apprenticeship training positions are in the construction and manufacturing industries. Experts agree, however, that apprenticeship has the potential to benefit numerous other industries, as well (e.g., service, retail, public sector). Thus, the possibilities for expanding the apprenticeship model - thereby meeting the needs of many more American companies and citizens in search of high quality training opportunities - are virtually unlimited.
WHO OPERATES AND PAYS FOR REGISTERED APPRENTICESHIP TRAINING?
Registered apprenticeship programs are operated by private industry - employer and labor/management sponsors. Program sponsors pay virtually all the training costs as well as progressively increasing wages to their apprentices. Registered apprenticeship programs range from one to six or more years in length. For the apprentice, this translates into an "industry scholarship" worth $40,000 - $150,000. Moreover, the contact of the training program is determined based on industry needs thereby producing workers with skills that are in high demand.
WHAT ROLE DOES GOVERNMENT PLAY IN APPRENTICESHIP?
The National Apprenticeship Act of 1937 authorizes the Federal government, in cooperation with the states, to oversee the nation's apprenticeship system. The United States Department of Labor's Bureau of Apprenticeship and Training, in conjunction with State Apprenticeship Agencies, is responsible for registering apprenticeship programs that meet Federal and State standards, issuing Certificates of Completion to apprentices, encouraging the development of new programs through marketing and technical assistance, protecting the safety of and welfare of apprentices, and assuring that all programs provide high quality training to their apprentices.
HOW MUCH DOES THE GOVERNMENT SPEND ON APPRENTICESHIP?
The Federal government currently spends approximately $16 million for administration of the apprenticeship system, while the States contribute approximately another $20 million. Thus, the total public investment amounts to approximately $36 million - a modest $110 per apprentice.
WHAT IS THE RETURN ON INVESTMENT FOR THIS PUBLIC EXPENDITURE?
The government's return on investment in registered apprenticeship clearly outperforms other types of government-sponsored job training programs (see the "economics" section on this site). Apprenticeship is a proven training strategy that improves the skills of the American workforce and enhances the efficiency and productivity of American industry. Moreover, because apprentices pay income taxes on their wages, it is estimated that every $1 the Federal government invests yields more than $50 in revenue. Thus, if all 325,000 apprentices earn an average annual income of $15,000, this would generate nearly $1 billion in Federal revenues alone.
Government investment in the United States Registered apprenticeship system is wise. Not only does the system produce the kinds of workers that are badly needed in an increasingly competitive global economy, it also pays for itself many times over. The current investment should be both protected and increased to reap greater rewards.