New Developments in U.S. Apprenticeship: Federal, State, and International Perspectives
(Employment and Training Programs)
*Names in bold indicate Presenter
The 2016 election heightened an ongoing debate about how best to deal with stagnant wages and weak job options for American workers without at least a bachelor’s degree. One increasingly prominent and bipartisan option for dealing with the problem is to scale up the U.S. apprenticeship system. Policymakers are coming to recognize that expanding apprenticeship is a cost-effective strategy for raising productivity and wages, improving the transition from school to careers, upgrading skills, widening access to rewarding careers, and achieving positive returns for employers and workers.
President Trump called for expanding apprenticeship at a White House ceremony last year. His first steps toward achieving this goal were signing an executive order titled “Expanding Apprenticeship in America,” doubling the funding for apprenticeships to $200 million, and establishing a task force on apprenticeship. Meanwhile, demonstrations sponsored by the Obama administration are well under way and a bipartisan group in Congress has sponsored apprenticeship expansion legislation. Nonetheless, the United States is far behind Australia, Canada, and England in scaling apprenticeships. The apprenticeship share of the workforce of these countries is about 9-10 times the apprenticeship share of the U.S. workforce.
U.S. official (or registered) apprenticeships have long been dominated by the construction trades and have operated in a highly complex world. Recently, renewed efforts have emerged to extend apprenticeship to a wide range of other occupations, to simplify the registered apprenticeship system, and to create “industry-recognized” apprenticeships. In addition, many states are developing their own initiatives to shift skill development policies toward apprenticeship. South Carolina, for example, built “Apprenticeship Carolina” with a tax credit and a team that has effectively sold apprenticeships to employers, raising the number of companies from 90 in 2008 to over 800 by 2016. Governor Scott Walker (R-WI) recently doubled the funding for Wisconsin’s successful youth apprenticeship program. The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) legislation encourages state and local workforce boards to increase their emphasis on apprenticeship.
This roundtable of top state officials, apprenticeship practitioners, and national and international experts will assess the new developments in the U.S. aimed at scaling apprenticeship. They will discuss initiatives taking place at the state and local levels, barriers and opportunities for apprenticeship expansion they are experiencing, lessons from other countries and from U.S. states that have led to apprenticeship expansion, and federal and state policies that can strengthen the role of apprenticeship in the U.S. while maintaining high quality. The panel members will also examine and discuss the findings and recommendations of the President’s Task Force on Apprenticeship Expansion that are expected to be published in the summer of 2018.