National Apprenticeship Week

By Laura Walling, GII senior director of government affairs, advocacy & legislative affairs

The week of November 11-17 marks the fifth annual National Apprenticeship Week. Employers and service providers conducted hundreds of events around the country to celebrate and showcase the opportunities that apprenticeships offer for Americans to develop workplace experience and skills that employers value. The events provide community leaders in business, labor, education and other critical industries the opportunity to showcase their apprenticeship programs, apprentices and facilities to career-seekers. More than 150,000 employers and labor management organizations around the country benefit from apprenticeships.

President Trump marked the occasion by issuing a proclamation which notes, “This week, we recommit our efforts to fostering greater opportunity for current and future workers by supporting expanded access to apprenticeships. By increasing training and educational programs, we will renew our Nation’s workforce and help hardworking Americans create a brighter future for themselves and their families while further strengthening our robust economy.”

During the week, representatives from Goodwill Industries International attended a National Summit on Women in Apprenticeship hosted by the Women’s Bureau at the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). The Summit explored ways to help expand apprenticeship opportunities for women in a variety of industries and identified promising apprenticeship models – many of which are being implemented at local Goodwill® organizations.

Apprenticeship is an industry-driven, high-quality career pathway where employers can develop and prepare their future workforce, and individuals can obtain paid work experience, classroom instruction and a portable credential. This earning-while-learning model can reduce the potential to take on debt. Research also shows that 94% of apprentices retain employment after completing an apprenticeship program; the average starting wage after completing an apprenticeship program is $70,000; and workers who complete apprenticeship programs earn $300,000 more over a career than their peers who don’t. The length of an apprenticeship program may vary as apprenticeship is a flexible training model that can be customized to meet the needs of businesses across multiple industries.

According to DOL, millions of jobs are unfilled due to the growing skills gap in the workforce. Many of these vacancies remain unfilled because employers can’t find workers with the right skills. Automation or technical innovation alone can’t overcome these challenges. American workers need to upgrade their skills and America’s businesses must become producers of the talent they need to thrive. Goodwill stands ready to assist in helping workers bridge this gap as we are committed to advancing policies that help Americans learn skills for jobs in growing industries.

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