Registered Apprenticeship (RA) is administered by the Employment and Training Administration in conjunction with State Apprenticeship Agencies. Apprenticeship programs range from one to six years and are offered in approximately 1,000 occupations, including the traditional skilled trades such as electrician, plumber, and carpenter, as well as such occupations as truck driver, child care worker, health informaticians, and correctional officer. For apprentices, RA provides on-the-job training, related technical instruction, incremental wage increases as skills are attained, and, upon completion, nationally recognized certification in the chosen career area. RA programs are delivered by sponsors—employers, employer associations, and labor management organizations. Sponsors cover the costs of training, wages paid to apprentices, costs of managing the program, and costs associated with time spent by senior employees to mentor and train apprentices. In return, sponsors receive the benefit of a supply of highly trained well qualified workers.
ETA contracted with Mathematica Policy Associates to conduct an effectiveness and cost-benefit analysis of Registered Apprenticeship. The study assessed the effectiveness of RA with regard to the earnings and net benefits received by apprentices and examined the social costs and benefits of RA in 10 states, selected to vary in program features and labor market outcomes: Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Texas. Additionally, the study examined the barriers that women face in RA and the best practices for promoting their success. The question of whether federal and state administered RA programs have patterns of differences in the programs themselves and their outcomes was also explored.
The study’s principal findings were:
- RA participants had substantially higher earnings than did nonparticipants. Estimated over a career of 36 years, individuals who participated in RA would have estimated average earnings gains of $98,718 ($123,906 with employer benefits). Assuming costs such as taxes apprentices pay on earnings gains, the estimated net benefits for RA participants are $96,911. For those who not only participated in RA but also completed the RA program, the average earnings gains were substantially higher: $240,037 ($301,533 with employer benefits). After accounting for costs, the net benefits for RA completers are $233,828.
- The social benefits of the RA program appear to be much larger than the social costs. Over the 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 recommended some changes to promote women’s success. Researchers found 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.