October 14, 2016 • Volume 26, Issue 36
Can they help solve the skills gap?
By Susan Ladika


Ellie Mollenhoff (AP Photo/The Courier/Brandon Pollock)
Ellie Mollenhoff, a plumbing apprentice in Cedar Falls, Iowa, is one of 450,000 apprentices in the United States. While apprenticeships have long been popular in construction trades, they are increasingly being used in fields requiring good technical skills, such as advanced manufacturing and information technology. (AP Photo/The Courier/Brandon Pollock)

Apprenticeship programs offer on-the-job training and specialized education for young adults just starting a career. While apprenticeships have long been popular in construction and low-tech manufacturing, they are growing in use in fields requiring workers with good technical skills, such as advanced manufacturing, health care and information technology. The federal government has funneled hundreds of millions of dollars toward apprenticeship programs, yet the number of apprentices remains tiny: about 450,000 in 2015 in a civilian workforce of 160 million. Many companies are unwilling to spend the thousands of dollars needed to train an apprentice, and many young people prefer a traditional college education and career path over an apprenticeship. Bipartisan bills to award tax credits to employers offering apprenticeships are stalled in Congress. Apprenticeships also face headwinds in Europe, where the concept is centuries old. German companies are having trouble recruiting enough qualified apprentices, and in the United Kingdom businesses are fighting a payroll tax earmarked for apprenticeship programs.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Youths and Work
Oct. 14, 2016  Apprenticeships
Mar. 14, 2014  Youth Unemployment
Jan. 27, 2012  Youth Volunteerism
Oct. 23, 1992  Youth Apprenticeships
Aug. 31, 1990  Teens Work to Balance School & Jobs
Jul. 12, 1961  Jobs for Young People
May 10, 1950  Employment of Young People
Dec. 23, 1940  Revival of Apprenticeship
Jan. 17, 1940  Work Programs for Young People
Cost of Education and School Funding
General Employment and Labor
Labor Standards and Practices
Manufacturing and Industrial Production
Regional Political Affairs: Europe
Vocational and Adult Education