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Over the next several months, we will be highlighting one of our Trailblazer and Innovator Registered Apprenticeship programs each week.  These programs represent the innovation and dedication that have become a symbol of the impact Registered Apprenticeship is having in helping American workers learn a trade, and start a career, and in helping U.S. businesses stay competitive in the 21st Century. 

These ‘SpotLights’ on our Trailblazers and Innovators will also hopefully help inspire your ideas and provide possible solutions to challenges you may be facing in your efforts to train workers.  Your peers have put these programs together and are happy to share their ideas and successes to better the larger Registered Apprenticeship community.   We hope these SpotLights are informative and useful.  We also hope they help get the word out on the innovations and strategies being used all over the country in multiple industries to train U.S. workers.

To kick-off our Spotlight feature, we felt it made sense to highlight the place where it all started: Wisconsin’s State Apprenticeship system.  In June 1911, Wisconsin became the first State to adopt an Apprenticeship law.  Wisconsin’s law was later used as the model for the National Apprenticeship Act, which established the national Registered Apprenticeship system.

Wisconsin has always been a leader in the Registered Apprenticeship community, with strong support from the State’s employers, employer associations, unions, and educators, all working together to help train Wisconsin’s workforce.

Karen Morgan, Director of the Department of Workforce Development (DWD) Bureau of Apprenticeship Standards and former president of the National Association of State and Territorial Apprenticeship Directors, had this to say about that collaborative effort;

“The dedication and commitment of a century’s worth of apprenticeship stakeholders – employers, unions, apprentices, technical colleges and state government – is a testament to the impact Registered Apprenticeship can, and does, have in raising the competitiveness of a workforce and the opportunity it gives to individual workers for long-term careers.”

Wisconsin’s Registered Apprenticeship system is not only the first established in the U.S.; it’s also one of the most active today, 100 years after it began.  Over the past 10 years, Wisconsin has averaged more than 10,000 active apprentices in more than 200 different trades at any given time. 

Highlights of Wisconsin’s Registered Apprenticeship trail-blazing program structure include:

  • A formal "Transition to Trainer" course that helps apprentices pass on their trade as a better Journeyworker.
  • Strong sponsor commitment, including agreement to pay apprentices while they attend related instruction.
  • More than 100 state and local trade advisory committees to help maintain and modernize programs.
  • Apprenticeship stakeholders partnering with technical colleges, the primary providers of related instruction

We encourage you to download and share this one-page overview to learn more on the Wisconsin State Apprenticeship System.   Also be sure to visit for more on Registered Apprenticeship opportunities in Wisconsin.

Stay tuned for a new Trailblazer SpotLight each week.  Next week, we’ll be highlighting the United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipe Fitting Industry of the United States and Canada (UA).

75 Years ago today, President Franklin Roosevelt signed into law the National Apprenticeship Act, which established the National Apprenticeship System.  The signing of the Act, also known as the Fitzgerald Act in honor of its author, Congressman William J. Fitzgerald (CT), set in motion an opportunity that 75 years later, has offered millions of U.S. workers the chance to use the "Earn While You Learn” strategy to prepare for careers in industries that have helped drive the American economy and supported countless American families in their efforts reach the middle class and live the American Dream.

Of the Act, Congressman Fitzgerald is on record as saying, “Mr. Speaker, this bill sets up In the Department of Labor an apprentice training system for the youth of this country….”  “This bill will provide a cloak of protection to put around boys and girls and encourage them to go back into the skilled trades, and in some localities today we have a crying need for trained and skilled workers.”

Fitzgerald’s words 75 years ago still ring true today as we continue efforts to train America’s young workers and ensure that the skilled trades represent the promise and dedication U.S. workers have shown since America’s beginnings.  This dedication among U.S. employers and labor-management organizations helps to ensure we have the best trained, most highly skilled workforce in the world.

On Wednesday August 1, 2012, Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis, along with her Advisory Committee on Apprenticeship, celebrated the efforts of labor-management organizations and employers in commemoration of the establishment of the Act during the Registered Apprenticeship “OutEducate OutBuild OutInnovate” National Education and Action Summit.   

The summit featured leaders and stakeholders from throughout the Registered Apprenticeship system created as a result of the signing of the Act.  To highlight the dedication and investment U.S. employers and labor-management organizations have given to support Registered Apprenticeship, the event showcased recently selected "Innovator and Trailblazer" Registered Apprenticeship programs that embody the innovation and commitment still on display today in the 21st century.  These innovative programs represent the opportunities Registered Apprenticeship offers workers today and in the future. 

The Summit celebrated the history of Registered Apprenticeship over the past 75 years, but maybe more importantly, discussions focused on the role it will play in training U.S. workers in the 21st century.  And following those discussions, it’s clear U.S. businesses still believe the ‘Earn While You Learn” model is as effective today as it was 75 years ago.

Today, Registered Apprenticeship still thrives in traditional industries such as Construction and Manufacturing, and is also expanding in growing industries, including Healthcare &Childcare, Transportation, Renewable Energy… even our Armed Forces. 

Additionally, today’s Registered Apprenticeship is working with post secondary institutions across the nation to ensure apprentices are able to earn college credits as they progress through an apprenticeship.  These efforts increase the earnings-value and long-term career security of an apprentice, leading to the opportunity for a degree while establishing high-level skills that keep America’s workforce competitive.   

The U.S. Department of Labor has also just released a study which found that over a career of 36 years, participants who completed a Registered Apprenticeship program had average earnings gains of nearly a quarter million dollars ($240,037).  The study, An Effectiveness Assessment and Cost-Benefit Analysis of Registered Apprenticeship in 10 States found that the net benefits for those who complete a Registered Apprenticeship program are $233,828.  

To see more on the history of Registered Apprenticeship, and the direction it’s heading to meet the 21st century needs of U.S. workers and the industries they support, watch the OutEducate OutBuild OutInnovate Summit – Opening video, which aired to kick-off the August 1 National Education and Action Summit.

For more from the Summit also be sure to view the Event Program Agenda, Summit Photos, and the archived version of the entire Summit proceedings via Live Webcast. 




Individuals who complete a Registered Apprenticeship program will earn substantially higher wages over their lifetime according to a study released today by the U.S. Department of Labor.  The study, An Effectiveness Assessment and Cost-Benefit Analysis of Registered Apprenticeship in 10 States, found that over a career of 36 years, participants who completed the Registered Apprenticeship program had average earnings gains of nearly a quarter million dollars ($240,037, increasing to $301,533 with employer benefits added) compared to nonparticipants.  After accounting for costs such as taxes, the net benefits for those who complete a Registered Apprenticeship program are $233,828.  Even when individuals who participated in but did not complete Registered Apprenticeship are added to the analysis, the estimated average earnings gains for all participants is still an impressive $98,718 ($123,906 with employer benefits) over their careers.  Taking into account various costs the estimated net benefits for all RA participants are $96,911. 

Registered Apprenticeship is a career-training program that offers structured on-the-job training combined with related technical instruction tailored to industry needs.  The program, created in 1937, seeks to produce well-trained workers whose skills are in high demand.  In 2011, almost 400,000 people across the nation were enrolled in the program.  Registered Apprenticeship is administered by the Employment and Training Administration’s Office of Apprenticeship within the U.S. Department of Labor, 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 occupations including wind turbine technician, health informatician and geothermal & well-drilling operator.  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.

This study, led by principle investigator Debbie Reed of Mathematica Policy Research, Inc., assesses the effectiveness of Registered Apprenticeship and performs a cost-benefit analysis of the program.  The report measures the net effects of apprenticeship for participants as well as the social costs and benefits of Registered Apprenticeship across a variety of state settings.  It also examines the barriers that women face in Registered Apprenticeship and the best practices for promoting their success.  In addition, the report explores whether federal and state administered RA programs have patterns of differences in the programs themselves and their outcomes.  

The study focused on 10 states selected to vary in program features and labor market characteristics, including program size, region, the degree of union representation in the state, administrative type (federal or state), and the degree to which RA is concentrated in a few occupations.  The states are Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Texas.

Key Research Findings
  • RA participants had substantially higher 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, increasing to $301,533 with 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, the estimated average earning gains for all participants is still an impressive $98,718 ($123,906 with employer benefits) over their careers.  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 career of an apprentice, the estimated social benefits of RA exceed the social costs by more than $49,000.
  • The report finds that female apprentices expressed positive views of RA but recommends 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.
In Commemoration of the 75th Anniversary of the signing of the National Apprenticeship Act, the Office of Apprenticeship has identified "Trailblazer and Innovator" programs from throughout the Registered Apprenticeship system which embody the 21st Century Vision for Apprenticeship.  This resource provides One-Page overviews of each of these programs.

Full list of all of the Trailblazer and Innovator One Pagers included in the Zip file
  • Academy for Manufacturing Careers, Jackson Area
  • Manufacturers Association (MI)
  • Aerospace Joint Apprenticeship Committee (WA)
  • Alaska Department of Transportation & Public Facilities
  • American Apprenticeship Round Table (AART)
  • Apprenticeship 2000 (NC)
  • Apprenticeship Carolina (SC)
  • Arkansas Department of Career Education
  • Arkansas Department of Health, State Plumbing Licensing
  • Board and the Arkansas Department of Labor, Electrical Licensing Board
  • Arkansas Energy Sector Partnership
  • Associated General Contractors of New Mexico
  • Atrion Networking Corporation (RI)
  • Bayless Middle Apprenticeship (MO)
  • Bricklayers & Allied Craftworkers Joint Apprenticeship & Training Committee (JATC) (NY)
  • Building and Trades Training Directors Association of Massachusetts
  • Building Futures – Industry Partnership (RI)
  • Building Trades Multi-Craft Core Curriculum
  • Carpenters Training Committee for Northern California
  • Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP)
  • Chicago Women in Trades (IL)
  • Colorado Statewide Ironworkers Joint Apprenticeship & Training Committee (JATC)
  • Early Childhood Associate Apprenticeship Program (ECAAP) (KS)
  • Eastern Iowa Community College Culinary Arts
  • El Dorado Molds, Inc. (CA)
  • Electrical Trades Center / International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 683 (OH)
  • Electrical Training Institute (ETI)
  • Finishing Trades Institute of the Mid-Atlantic Region
  • Fletcher Allen Healthcare / Vermont HITEC, Inc.
  • Go Build (AL)
  • Helmets to Hardhats – U.S. Military
  • Home Builders Institute (HBI) Pre-Apprenticeship
  • Certificate Training (PACT)
  • Hope Community Resources, Inc. (AK)
  • Hypertherm, Inc. (NH)
  • Idaho Association for the Education of Young Children
  • Idaho Power Co.
  • Independent Electrical Contractors – Dakotas, Inc.
  • Indiana Department of Correction
  • International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW)
  • 21st Century Apprenticeship (ND)
  • International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW)
  • Local #26 (DC)
  • Iowa Electrical Apprenticeship & Educational Trust
  • Ivy Tech Community College Apprenticeship Degree Program (IN)
  • Kansas Department of Commerce Health Support
  • Specialist Program
  • Laborers Training Program of Southern California
  • Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA)
  • Lake County Electricians Joint Apprenticeship Training Committee (JATC) (IN)
  • Lansing Board of Water and Light (MI)
  • Massachusetts Division of Apprenticeship Standards
  • Metropolitan Community College (MO)
  • Montana Passages Women’s Center – MT Dept of Corrections
  • National Institute for Metalworking Skills (NIMS)
  • New Century Careers (PA)
  • New Jersey Place
  • Norfolk Naval Shipyard Apprenticeship Program (VA)
  • Ohio Statewide Articulation Agreements
  • Pacific Maritime Institute (PMI) Apprenticeship Program (WA)
  • Pipe Fitters’ Training Fund Local Union 597 (IL)
  • Prince George’s County Fire Department & Emergency Medical Services (MD)
  • Puget Sound Naval Shipyard & Intermediate Maintenance Facility (WA)
  • Seafarers International Union - Paul Hall Center for Maritime Training & Education
  • Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Healthcare
  • NW Training Partnership (WA)
  • Sheet Metal Workers’ Local Union #1 / SMACNA Joint
  • Apprentice Training & Journeymen Retraining School (IL)
  • Shenandoah Valley Energy Partnership (VA)
  • Southland Healthcare Forum (IL)
  • St. Louis Carpenters CJAP & Habitat for Humanity Collaboration (MO)
  • Texas Area Health Education Center (AHEC)
  • The Apprentice School – Newport News Shipbuilding
  • United Association
  • United Services Military Apprenticeship Program
  • United States Army /American Culinary Federation
  • West Virginia Apprenticeship for Child Development Specialist
  • Western Oklahoma Electrical Joint Apprenticeship & Training Committee (JATC)
  • Wisconsin State Apprenticeship System