Apprenticeship Ripe for Expansion? 'Working Poor Families Project' Brief Says Yes

Posted by Chad Aleshire - On September 13, 2011 (EST)


The Working Poor Families Project (WPFP), launched in 2002, is a national initiative that works to improve the ability of low-income workers to increase their wages.  This project partners with state non-profit organizations and supports their policy efforts to better prepare America’s working families for a more secure economic future.


WPFP recently issued a Summer 2011 policy brief, which states that Registered Apprenticeship is, “ripe for a rebirth as the nation’s premier pathway to higher education and sustainable careers across a wide range of industries, work settings, and geographic regions.”


The brief, “Improving Access to Apprenticeship: Strengthening State Policies and Practices,” written by David Altstadt, makes the case for increased utilization of Registered Apprenticeship; identifies some of the barriers to expansion; and offers some potential solutions and strategies to mitigate these barriers and promote increased employer usage of, and public-funding support for, the Registered Apprenticeship model.  From increased outreach to employers by us here in the federal Office of Apprenticeship, to better ties to the Education and Workforce systems and increased access for low-skilled, disadvantaged populations, this brief touches on several strategies that all of us here in the Registered Apprenticeship system have been focusing on to expand the “earn and learn’ model to help prepare America’s current and future workers.


Specific areas of interest include:


  • Need for increased outreach to employers and the need to create more awareness.  An effort long underway here in the Office of Apprenticeship and our State Apprenticeship Agency partners through increased focus on expansion into non-traditional industries such as transportation, energy, healthcare, information technology, and other emerging industries.
  • Need for more flexibility to encourage and convince employers in non-traditional industries that apprenticeship is a viable training option for their workforce.  The issuance of revised regulations in October of 2008 created greater flexibility and multiple training options.  New provisions allow for competency-based and hybrid models, increased use of distance learning technologies, and the use of interim credentials to track an apprentice’s progression through a program, among other options that aim to increase flexibility and expand access to non-traditional industries.
  • Need for better partnerships with, and connectivity to, post-secondary education, to allow apprentices to earn credits toward achieving an academic degree or certificate in addition to a Registered Apprenticeship Completion Certificate. The Office of Apprenticeship, through Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis’ Advisory Committee on Apprenticeship, is currently engaged with Community College leaders across the nation to help develop a framework for articulating Registered Apprenticeship classroom instruction achievements to college credits that will allow apprentices to earn post-secondary credits.
  • Need for increased awareness and promotion of Registered Apprenticeship within the publicly-funded workforce system’s One-Stop network, including the use of public workforce funds to support the training of apprentices and reduce the cost of related-instruction tuition costs.  Over the last three years, the Office of Apprenticeship has issued policy guidance and held several Action Clinics in regions throughout the U.S. to bring together the Workforce and Education Communities to promote the use of workforce system funding to support and promote the Registered Apprenticeship model for jobseekers who come through the One-Stop system in search of training and career assistance.


The brief goes on to discuss how these goals can be met and provides recommendations on how States, and the National Registered Apprenticeship system can expand the use of the apprenticeship model to help train our workforce.  It’s a great read and presents some thought provoking recommendations on how Registered Apprenticeship in the 21st Century can increase skill attainment in all industries and keep America competitive in today’s global economy.


Click the Link below to read the full policy brief. 

“Improving Access to Apprenticeship: Strengthening State Policies and Practices,”


David Altstadt is the Principal of David Altstadt Consulting, LLC, a private consulting firm that delivers in research, communications, and project management services for education and skills development initiatives

John V. Ladd
Administrator, Office of Apprenticeship

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Modified On : September 13, 2011
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