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Expanding Apprenticeship to New Sectors and Populations: The Experiences and Outcomes of Apprentices in the American Apprenticeship Initiative

Douglas Walton, Abt Global, Karen N. Gardiner, Abt Global, Burt Barnow, George Washington University


October 26, 2022

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) launched the American Apprenticeship Initiative (AAI) to expand apprenticeships in the U.S. to more industries and to promote equity by including previously underrepresented populations. It did both, according to an Abt-led evaluation.

DOL funded 46 grantees to help register apprenticeships beyond the traditional building trades and penetrate sectors such as healthcare and information technology. For registered apprenticeships, grantees also recruited underrepresented populations such as women, young men and women of color, people with disabilities, and veterans. Data based on about 2,600 registered apprentices showed that:

  • More than 60 percent of AAI apprentices were from an underrepresented population
  • About 75 percent of AAI apprentices enrolled in nontraditional occupations, most commonly manufacturing
  • At the time of the AAI Apprentice Survey, about half of AAI apprentices had completed their programs and a third were still enrolled
  • About two-thirds of AAI apprentices who completed their apprenticeship continued to work at the same employer who had sponsored their apprenticeship program
  • On average, AAI apprentice earnings grew by about 50 percent between the year before starting the apprenticeship and the year after expected completion of the apprenticeship

The evaluation found that earnings growth varied substantially by subgroup. Women had higher earnings growth than men. Apprentices of other races had greater earnings growth than did white, Black, or Hispanic apprentices. Earnings growth was higher for new workers than incumbent workers. And earnings growth was higher for apprentices in information technology and healthcare occupations than for apprentices in construction or manufacturing occupations.

Pre-apprenticeship program developed under the AAI grants were designed to provide training to prepare participants for apprenticeships. The evaluation found that:

  • About 90 percent of AAI pre-apprentices were from underrepresented populations
  • About 80 percent of AAI pre-apprentices completed their programs
  • About 60 percent of completers continued into a registered apprenticeship program
  • On average, AAI pre-apprentice earnings grew by more than 90 percent between the year prior to starting the pre-apprenticeship and the year after expected completion of the pre-apprenticeship

Learn more about the AAI evaluation.