According to the Department of Labor, the number of new apprentices in the United States has grown by 67% since 2012. In 2021, there were 22% more active apprentices than the previous 10-year average (593,000 versus 484,000).
Why is this the case? Apprenticeships have long been utilized for construction trades. However, in recent years, apprenticeships in manufacturing have been recognized as an effective way to attract and retain workers. And, with so many companies needing skilled workers, I expect this trend to grow exponentially over the next few years.
Apprenticeships are required to have three components:
- On-the-job training with a company mentor
- Related Instruction (RI) to complement the on-the-job experience
- A plan to increase an apprentice’s pay throughout the program
Apprenticeships must be registered with the Department of Labor and this takes time and effort. State organizations can help with registration, as can consultants such as RADD Training, who provide a full range of apprenticeship design and development services, including mentor training and custom apprenticeship program design.
Apprenticeships generally last two to three years, depending on company needs and program design. Related Instruction can be taught by a local community college or tech school, or by an instructor chosen by the company.
Some schools and nonprofit organizations also offer pre-apprenticeship programs that provide basic skills training and soft skills education to help prepare participants for employment. Participation in pre-apprenticeships is not a pre-requisite for participation in an apprenticeship program, but they do provide a “head start” for apprenticeship participants.
Apprenticeship Incentive Grants Offset Costs
As many states have seen the positive impact apprenticeships have on manufacturers, they have allocated funding and other resources to support the development and delivery of apprenticeship programs. Apprenticeship incentive grants, programs, and tax credits are now offered in many states to support these activities. Here are some examples:
- Colorado Department of Labor and Employment Apprenticeship Program – This program offers free assistance to help employers register their apprenticeship program.
- Connecticut Manufacturing Innovation Fund Apprenticeship Program – This program provides grants to Connecticut manufacturers that have a registered apprenticeship program and approved training provides. Funding is $9,500 per apprentice in year 1 and $9,250 in year 2.
- Maine Department of Labor Apprenticeship Program – This program funds up to $500 per apprentice to cover classroom training costs.
- Maryland Apprenticeship Training Program – This program covers up to 50% of eligible training costs up to $4,500 per apprentice and up to $40,000 per company per program year.
- New York Apprenticeship Expansion Grant – The funding covers the cost of training for apprentices, including Related Instruction (RI), On the Job (OJT) Training, books and tools.
- Oklahoma Apprenticeship Incentive Funds – This program provides up to $12,000 per company to establish new apprenticeship programs.
- Pennsylvania Pre-Apprenticeship and Apprenticeship Grant Program – Companies can get up to $45,000 over a three-year period ($15,000 per year) to cover expenses related to instruction that complements on-the-job training.
- Wyoming Apprenticeship Grants – This program encourages companies to offer apprenticeships by funding a portion of a program’s direct costs (instructor wages, travel, fees, and program administration).
Many Workforce Innovation Opportunity Act (WIOA) centers also utilize On-the-Job Training funds to fund the OJT component of an apprenticeship program and Incumbent Worker funding to help cover the classroom instruction. Companies need to be aware of the funding sources available to them and their requirements and restrictions prior to starting an apprenticeship program to maximize their opportunity for funding.
Take the Next Step Toward Apprenticeship Incentive Grant Funding
Apprenticeships have been proven to help companies fill difficult to hire for positions, obtain skilled applicants, plan to backfill positions vacated by retiring employees, and retain employees, reducing turnover. If you wish to discuss apprenticeship incentive grants or other funding opportunities to offset your company’s current or planned apprenticeship program, contact me. If you would like updated information on apprenticeship grants in your state, subscribe to the Manufacturing Grants Database (apprenticeship programs are categorized under Training).