Federal Study on the Impact of Apprenticeship on Our Society

Key Research Findings. The study found:

• RA participants had substantially higher annual earnings than did nonparticipants. Over their career of 36 years, participants who completed the RA program had average earnings of nearly a quarter million dollars ($240,037, or $301,533 including employer benefits added). After accounting for costs, the net benefits for RA completers are $233,828. Even when non-completers are added to the analysis, over their career of 36 years, the estimated average earnings gains for all participants is still an impressive $98,718 (or $123,906 including employer benefits). Taking into account various costs such as taxes apprentices pay on earnings gains, the estimated net benefits for RA participants are $96,911.

The social benefits of the RA program appear to be much larger than the social costs. Over the average 36 year career of an apprentice, the estimated social benefits of RA exceed the social costs by more than $49,000.

• Female apprentices expressed positive views of RA but recommend some changes to promote women’s success. The data demonstrates that women participate in RA at lower rates than men and are concentrated in social service occupations (mainly child care and health care). In the 2010 cohort, women made up only 9 percent of new apprentices. Women are much less likely than men to enroll in the traditional skilled trades and, when they do, they are less likely than men to complete RA. The women interviewed see their participation in RA as a pathway to career advancement and higher pay. Those interviewed suggested strategies to enhance the success of women in RA: undertaking targeted outreach campaigns, building women’s basic skills, helping women develop accurate expectations about particular occupations, adequate child care, assisting employers to enforce policies to combat harassment at male-dominated worksites, and peer groups for support and encouragement.

• RA programs are largely similar in states federally administered by the OA states and SAA states. Modest differences were found between OA and SAA states in terms of the demographics, occupational distribution, completion rates, and earnings gains of apprentices. The most notable difference was that SAA states are more easily able to create partnerships with the workforce system and educational institutions because they are part of the same state government.
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