Apprenticeships serve as catalyst for middle-class job growth in California

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The Governor’s budget proposal released on earlier this month gives California’s employers more reasons to feel hopeful about acquiring the talent they need to complete in 2015. Increased funding at both the federal and possibly the state level offers businesses more opportunities to attract, train and retain skilled workers through registered apprenticeships, also known as “earn and learn” programs.

The proposed budget provides over $1.2 billion in funding to support a coordinated framework for adult education, career technical education, workforce investment and apprenticeships. December’s announcement from the Secretary of Labor allocates $100 million in existing H-1B funds for American Apprenticeship Grants to help more workers participate in apprenticeships. This is the single largest Federal investment in apprenticeship history and will serve as a catalyst to “sale and scale” the apprenticeship model as an innovative workforce strategy that is relevant to a number of different industries, including many identified as critical for California’s economic growth.

This funding allows the Department of Labor’s Registered Apprenticeship College Consortium (RACC) to increase its offerings to employers. Fifteen colleges in California are members of RACC and are ready to work with employers:

  • Southern California: Santiago Canyon, Antelope Valley, Irvine Valley, Cuyamaca, Rio Hondo, Palomar
  • Central California: State Center CCD: Fresno City and Reedly College, Madera, Willow International and Oakhurst Centers; Allen Hancock CC
  • Northern California: American River, Mission, San Jose City

Why are apprenticeships important for California?

Apprenticeships are the catalyst for middle-class job growth in California.

The California Workforce Investment Board, working with the Interagency Working Group on Earn and Learn Job Training Strategies and Apprenticeship in California, asserts “apprenticeship is a time‐tested, on‐the‐job, training and education delivery system and is an essential component of California’s economic growth.” (PDF)

Apprenticeships produce greater income potential for workers.

A study conducted for the U.S. Department of Labor reported that Registered Apprenticeship participants had substantially higher earnings than did similar nonparticipants:

  • an average of $5,839 more in the ninth year following program enrollment for RA participants
  • an average of $98,718 more over the course of a career for RA participants
  • an average of $240,037 more over their careers for RA participants who completed their programs 

Apprenticeships equip employers with the workers they need.

The CWIB report also cited these employer benefits to participating in apprenticeship programs:

  • Skilled training geared to industry/ employer specifications to produce quality results
  • Increased productivity and knowledge transfer due to well-developed, structured on‐the‐job learning
  • Enhanced retention and reduced turnover
  • A stable pipeline of new skilled workers
  • More flexible workforce due to greater employee skills
  • Greater customer satisfaction generated by quality workmanship
  • An emphasis on safety training that may reduce worker compensation costs
  • Recognition as a supporter of state and local efforts to train young people in skills necessary to become contributing members of society and their communities 

Apprenticeship programs pay for themselves – and then some

The U.S. Department of Labor report 
estimates that over the career of an apprentice, the social benefits of Registered Apprenticeships exceed the social costs by more than $49,000. (PDF)

Learn more about Registered Apprenticeships how they can impact California

To learn more about RACC and how Registered Apprenticeships can shape the future of California’s economy, I encourage you to read the Apprenticeship Tool Kit or contact me at

John Dunn is a Program Specialist at the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office.


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