Apprenticeships lead to long-term earnings increases that outpace those of similar workers, according to a study by the Urban Institute and Abt Associates. Yet apprenticeships remain one of the best kept secrets in the US.

Despite the apprenticeship system existing since the 1930s, apprenticeships haven’t expanded beyond the construction trades until relatively recently (PDF). They also get lost in the debate about the relative value of different postsecondary education and training options for helping workers attain good jobs, including two- and four-year college degrees, sectoral training programs that result in certificates and degrees, and other types of credential-based programs.

However, registered apprenticeship is the premier “earn and learn” model (PDF); by combining technical instruction in a classroom with learning and mentoring experiences at a worksite, apprentices earn increasingly higher wages both during their time in the apprenticeship and after they’ve acquired the necessary competencies for a job and the apprenticeship concludes.

The start of National Apprenticeship Week is the perfect time to shine a light on the earnings increases associated with registered apprenticeships in the hopes that it encourages more employers to use apprenticeship to find and retain workers and encourages workers at all levels to pursue apprenticeships.

Registered apprenticeships boost earnings
The recent evaluation of the US Department of Labor’s (DOL’s) American Apprenticeship Initiative by Abt Associates and Urban revealed that earnings increased for all apprentices between the year before their apprenticeship began and the year following its conclusion, regardless of their occupational sector and demographics.

Better communicating earnings outcomes could increase registered apprenticeships across the US
Recognizing the value of registered apprenticeships, both the federal government and state governments provide funding for them: DOL grant programs, including the American Apprenticeship Initiative and Apprenticeship Building America, aim to increase registered apprenticeship across the country, including in nonconstruction occupations. They also aim to diversify apprentices. At the state level, California Governor Gavin Newsom set a goal of reaching 500,000 active apprentices by 2029.

Read the full article about apprenticeships by Karen Gardiner at Urban Institute.