The U.S. Department of Labor recently announced $100 million in grants will be invested in launching innovative, high-quality apprenticeship programs across the country. The federal grants will be funded through a user fee paid by employers looking to hire foreign workers under the H-1B nonimmigrant visa program.
The apprenticeship grant program aims to spur collaboration between the public and private sectors in developing workforce initiatives to meet the demands of key growth industries and American workers. The public-private partnerships will identify key goals for economic growth and align strategies to ensure skilled workers are available to fuel and sustain this growth. The collaborations will include:
- Business associations
- Community colleges
- Local and state governments
- Workforce organizations
- Community organizations
The American Apprenticeship Grant program is targeting high-growth occupations and industries to create career pathways for U.S. workers and businesses.
It is also focused on developing public policies that drive demand and sustainability of apprenticeship programs by encouraging employers to participate and attracting workers to the opportunities – particularly women, minorities and members of underserved populations.
A registered apprenticeship program is a career-training initiative that offers both on-the-job experience and related technical instruction specific to industry needs. Training activities that will be supported by the grant program include:
- On-the-job learning
- Job-related technical instruction
- Pre-apprenticeship training
- Sector strategy and career pathway development
- Partnership building activities
- Development and outreach promotion
Under the apprenticeship program, the U.S. Department of Labor will award a total of $100 million across 25 grants. Each grant award will range from $2.5 million to $5 million in total funding.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, 87 percent of graduates from apprenticeship programs are employed, with an average starting wage exceeding $50,000. Over the course of a 36-year career, graduates of apprenticeship programs had average earnings gains of $240,037 – or up to $301,533 when employer benefits were included.
Moreover, female graduates of apprenticeship programs expressed positive views of the training despite making up only 9 percent of all new apprentices. The women apprentices looked at the training programs as opportunities to advance their careers, and felt increased outreach and recruitment of female workers was needed.
Another way state and local governments could be establishing job training programs for key growth industries is through the use of federal transportation grants. A new report, however, reveals many states are not taking full advantage of available federal transit dollars to build a strong, diverse workforce to support growing construction industry demands.
According to the research, jobs in highway, street and bridge construction are projected to grow by 20 percent annually until 2022. Many states are not investing in workforce development programs that aim to increase the number of women gaining employment in these industries. Just 3 percent of U.S. construction workers are women, underscoring the need for more diverse training and recruitment programs funded by federal grants.