The U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Apprenticeship announced the first annual National Apprenticeship Week, November 2-8. It’s a great opportunity to learn about apprenticeship, whether you want to develop your skills for a new career, or you are an employer looking for workers ready to learn job skills.
What is apprenticeship?
If you are new to the idea of apprenticeship, it is a form of employment that combines hands-on, paid work experience with classroom training. Apprenticeships are often available in the manufacturing, construction, and transportation industries, among others.
Apprenticeship programs are generally sponsored by employers, labor unions or industry associations. To enroll, an applicant must meet a set of basic qualifications. An apprenticeship can last between one and six years, and participants earn wage increases at predetermined points as they gain work experience.
What kind of work do apprentices do?
If apprenticeship is a familiar idea, you may think of it as an arrangement only for plumbers, electricians and carpenters, but consider this: President Obama recently announced an investment of $175 million to 46 grantees to develop and expand apprenticeships in high growth industries.
Growth of up to 34,000 new apprenticeships is expected to expand opportunities in those more traditionally apprenticed fields, but also in industries newer to apprenticeship such as health care, finance and IT. Large and small companies, community colleges, unions and others are collaborating to extend the reach of apprenticeable occupations.
Businesses benefit from their apprenticeship programs through greater worker productivity, higher retention rates, reduced injuries and improved morale. As for the apprentices, their average starting salary after completing an apprenticeship 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.
If you are seeking an apprenticeship, you will find that different states offer different opportunities. In Oregon, for example, more than 100 women each year enroll in a pre-apprenticeship class with Oregon Tradeswomen, Inc. to prepare for entering an apprenticeship in the skilled trades. Following the program, participants credit their preparation and informed expectations for the high levels of success they experience in their new careers.
Learn more about apprenticeship on CareerOneStop.org. For details on how to get involved in apprenticeship, check out the U.S. Department of Labor’s ApprenticeshipUSA. Individuals will find resources and finders for opportunities, and employers will find tools to promote their opportunities or to explore how to establish their own apprenticeships.