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National Standards for Strong Apprenticeships

National Standards for Strong Apprenticeships

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Employer-written national guideline standards can strengthen America’s apprenticeship system.
Employer-written national guideline standards can strengthen America’s apprenticeship system.

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Published by: Center for American Progress on Aug 26, 2014
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1 Center for American Progress | National Standards for Strong Apprenticeships
National Standards for Strong Apprenticeships
By Sarah Ayres August 26, 2014
 Appreniceship, a ime-esed model o worker raining, can help mee he growing demand or skilled workers in he Unied Saes. Expanding appreniceship, however,  will require employers o undersand is value. While oday’s regisered appreniceship programs are high qualiy, ew employers know wha an appreniceship enails or wha compeencies a poenial employee who has compleed an appreniceship possesses. Tis is especially rue in fields oher han building and consrucion, where he majoriy o appreniceships are now concenraed. As policymakers look o expand apprenice-ships ino new secors and occupaions󲀔such as advanced manuacuring, healh care, and inormaion echnology󲀔i will be crucial o esablish appreniceship as a credible orm o cerificaion in he eyes o employers. o accomplish his, employers should develop indusrywide sandards ha validae ha a worker who has successully com-pleed an appreniceship possesses he specific knowledge and compeencies required or employmen in ha indusry.By developing a robus appreniceship sysem, he Unied Saes can beter mee busi-ness demand or skilled labor and srenghen is compeiveness in he global economy. oday more han ever, he Unied Saes requires new ools o equip workers wih he skills employers need. Almos hal o all U.S. employers repor ha hey have a hard ime filling jobs because candidaes lack echnical compeencies.
 By 2020, he naion  will experience a shorage o 3 million workers wih associae’s degrees or higher and a shorage o abou 5 million workers wih echnical cerificaes and credenials, accord-ing o a Georgeown Universiy Cener on Educaion and he Workorce analysis.
 Appreniceships may no solve all o our naions workorce challenges, bu hey have he poenial o play a much bigger role in our educaion and raining sysem. Tis issue  brie discusses he benefis o appreniceship beore explaining why regisered appren-iceships do no currenly offer a ruly porable credenial and how indusry-recognized appreniceship programs can help boh workers and employers. I hen suggess some policies he ederal governmen can enac o incenivize employers o wrie naional guideline sandards or appreniceships.
2 Center for American Progress | National Standards for Strong Apprenticeships
Apprenticeship offers significant benefits to workers and employers
 Appreniceship, a srucured orm o on-he-job raining combined wih classroom- based insrucion, can help mee employer demand or skilled workers. As discussed in he recen Cener or American Progress repor, “raining or Success,” appreniceship offers subsanial benefis, including higher worker wages and increased business pro-duciviy. Appreniceship is he ulimae job-driven raining ool because i immediaely pus workers ino high-demand jobs. Appreniceship has proven o offer workers higher  wages han oher workorce developmen ools; i has also been shown o provide ax-payers wih he greaes reurn on invesmen.
Bu appreniceship is an underuilized raining ool in he Unied Saes. Te Deparmen o Labor adminisers a small sysem o 375,000 regisered apprenices, and abou 100,000 new apprenices sar programs every year. By conras, England sars abou 3 mil-lion apprenices per year.
 One o he reasons U.S. employers do no more widely offer appreniceships󲀔paricularly in nonradiional secors and occupaions such as healh care, inormaion echnology, and advanced manuacuring󲀔is ha oday’s apprenice-ships do no provide workers wih a uniorm credenial ha employers recognize and respec. Tis limis appreniceship’s value o boh workers and employers.
Registered apprenticeships lack portability
Te secreary o labor currenly issues a cerificae o compleion o workers who finish a regisered appreniceship. In heory, his cerificae should serve as a naionally recognized porable credenial, and, in many cases, i does󲀔especially or appreniceship programs linked o a naional labor union. However, regisered appreniceships are no as porable as hey could be. Tis is because he exac componens o an appreniceship program in one occupaion may differ across saes and beween employers. Tis means ha an employer  who evaluaes an appreniceship compleer rom anoher sae or company may no know exacly wha he worker has learned or which skills hey have demonsraed.Te lack o uniorm naional sandards is parly a resul o he biurcaed adminisraion o regisered appreniceships. Te naional regisered appreniceship sysem includes 25 saes ha each independenly review and approve appreniceable occupaions, mean-ing ha sandards are no uniorm across sae lines.
 Prior o 2008, sae appreniceship councils o business, labor, and oher public ineress had he auhoriy o regiser occu-paions, which resuled in less accounabiliy o he U.S. Deparmen o Labor. oday, however, he power o regiser occupaions or appreniceship lies exclusively wih he ederal Office o Appreniceship and wih ederally recognized sae appreniceship agencies.
 Tis change has increased he accounabiliy and oversigh o he regisered appreniceship sysem, bu i has no ully unified regisered occupaions across saes.
3 Center for American Progress | National Standards for Strong Apprenticeships
Industry certificates do not guarantee a job
Employers are increasingly looking o develop sackable credenials ha ceriy a worker has demonsraed he abiliy o perorm a specific se o skills. Such indusry-recognized credenials have he poenial o offer significan benefis o boh workers and employers,  bu a credenial is no a job. An indusry cerificaion confirms ha an individual success-ully passed a es, ypically afer compleing a course a a communiy college or oher raining provider. Tis is very differen rom an appreniceship program, which necessar-ily requires ha he worker be employed in a ormal, on-he-job raining program. One indusry ha has made progress in his area is manuacuring, where employ-ers have developed a sysem o credenials in key occupaions ranging rom preci-sion shee meal operaors o fluid power echnicians. Te Manuacuring Insiue, he nonparisan affiliae o he Naional Associaion o Manuacurers, has inro-duced a sysem o naionally porable, indusry-recognized credenials called he Manuacuring Skills Cerificaion Sysem.
 Te Manuacuring Skills Cerificaion Sysem includes 15 cerificaion sponsors ha provide indusry sandards and assessmens, spanning he occupaional pahway rom enry-level workers o engineers. Workers are cerified in basic career readiness beore advancing o cerificaion in essenial manuacuring skills, such as saey and maine-nance awareness.
 A he mos advanced level, 12 indusry organizaions offer cerifica-ion o specific skills in areas including machining, welding, abricaion, auomaion, fluid power, mecharonics, and ransporaion.
 For now, implemenaion o he Skills Cerificaion Sysem has cenered largely on encouraging communiy colleges o offer he credenials. In 2009, wih a $1.5 million gran rom he Bill and Melinda Gaes Foundaion, he insiue unded pilo programs in which our communiy colleges began o offer courses leading o he credenials.
 A he same ime, he insiue has encouraged employers o recognize he cerificaions in hiring and promoing employees.Bu cerificaion alone has is limiaions. Firs, cerificaion ells employers nohing abou he qualiy o an applican’s work or even wheher he applican has any on-he-job experience. Moreover, while companies ofen cie he skills gap as a op concern, simply making cerificaion available does no guaranee ha more workers will atain i. Second,  while an appreniceship combines educaion and raining ino a job, cerificaion requires  workers o inves ime and money in coursework ha may or may no ulimaely lead o a  job. Tey are sill lef o “rain and pray,” as Secreary o Labor om Perez has pu i.

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