National Apprenticeship Week: Join the Movement, Now Half a Million Strong


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U.S. Department of Labor Graphic of U.S. Map Recognizing 2016 National Apprenticeship Week.
U.S. Department of Labor Graphic of U.S. Map Recognizing 2016 National Apprenticeship Week.

The following blog is a cross-post by Assistant Secretary of Labor for Employment and Training Portia Wu

Apprenticeship works for everyone − from the business owner looking to recruit highly skilled and talented workers, to the job seeker wanting to advance their career. It works because through apprenticeship, youth and job seekers can earn while they learn, while employers across industries can develop the talent they need to compete today and tomorrow.

In fact, research shows 91 percent of those who complete their apprenticeship programs find employment with average wages above $60,000. The return on investment for employers is also impressive – international studies find that, for every dollar spent on apprenticeship, employers get an average of $1.47 back in increased productivity and greater frontline innovation.

Read the president’s 2016 National Apprenticeship Week proclamation.

That is why in 2014, President Obama set a bold goal to double and diversify the number of registered apprentices within five years. We at the Department of Labor then followed up by investing more than $175 million in 2015 to support innovation in expansion in apprenticeship, to expand these earn-while-you-learn opportunities to more people through new industries and new partners across the country.

Then this year, with historic bipartisan support from Congress, the department invested an additional $90 million through its ApprenticeshipUSA initiative in states, industry and equity partners to continue to grow and diversify apprenticeship.

Since the president’s call to action – through the collective efforts of industry, labor organizations, education and training organizations, bipartisan support in Congress and state leadership – the U.S. has added 125,000 new apprenticeships, the largest increase in nearly a decade. With over 500,000 apprentices in the country today, the rate of expansion has accelerated in each of the last four years, putting us on track to meet the president’s goal by 2019.

Today apprenticeship has become more than a proven, affordable post-secondary pathway, it’s a movement now half a million strong and counting. That’s why this week, with a proclamation from the president, employers across industries, unions, community colleges, and state and local leaders are hosting hundreds of open houses and other events to commemorate the second annual National Apprenticeship Week this Nov. 14-20. Collectively, these events will tell the unique story of how apprenticeship is working for hundreds of thousands of Americans advancing their careers and growing their businesses in information technology, health care, advanced manufacturing, building trades, transportation, cybersecurity and professional services.

During this year’s National Apprenticeship Week, business leaders, educators, community organizations and current and former apprentices will share how apprenticeship works for them on social media using the hashtag #ApprenticeshipWorks. We’re encouraging the public to follow the action here on the blog, and on Facebook and Twitter, for the latest highlights.

This week we celebrate registered apprenticeship as a tried and true pathway to the middle class and beyond, and we also celebrate this unprecedented time of apprenticeship innovation and expansion. We have a lot of accomplishments to celebrate this coming week, but our work will continue until every American can attain the skills they need to build a career and share in the prosperity they’ve helped build.

For more on the department’s efforts to expand apprenticeship, visit

This blog is a part of a monthly series highlighting the contributions of the Commerce Department’s agencies to the Open for Business Agenda. This month’s focus is on Skills for Business.


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Last updated: 2016-12-09 11:17

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