The White House last week launched the Apprenticeship Ambassador Initiative—a national network of more than 200 employers and other organizations who have signed on to create hundreds of new registered apprenticeships.
The initiative is the latest in the administration’s sustained push to grow and diversify apprenticeships in the United States, including both the industries and the people they serve. Over the next year, participants in the new initiative have agreed to:
- Develop 460 new registered apprenticeship programs across their 40 industries.
- Hire more than 10,000 new apprentices.
- Hold 5,000 outreach, promotional, and training events to help other business, labor, and education leaders launch similar programs.
Given that the U.S. apprenticeship system is relatively small, that wouldn’t be a tiny increase. Last fiscal year, about 27,000 programs were active across the country and 241,000 new apprentices entered the system.
“These results will increase our skilled workforce—including people in underrepresented communities, especially women, people of color, veterans and people with disabilities—equipping them with good-paying, high-quality jobs and a pathway to the middle class,” Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh said at the launch.
- About 93 percent of workers who complete registered apprenticeships gain employment and earn an annual average starting wage of $77,000, according to the administration.
The initiative also emphasizes programs that are designed with career growth in mind and connect into traditional higher education, particularly associate degree programs at community colleges—such as a new apprenticeship program focused on electric vehicle infrastructure jobs jointly run by Siemens and Wake Technical Community College.
“Apprenticeships. Community colleges. Education and training. Together, they are our most powerful engines of prosperity,” said First Lady Jill Biden, who hosted the launch event.
Employers, labor step up
The apprenticeship initiative dovetails with a number of other federal efforts, including the Talent Pipeline Challenge—to prepare more Americans for high-demand roles in the broadband, construction, and electric vehicle sectors—and the Good Jobs Challenge.
Employers and other organizations signing on to the apprenticeship initiative span a wide range of industries with a heavy focus on in-demand roles in tech, healthcare, manufacturing, construction, and financial services, including:
- IBM with a focus on expanding tech apprenticeships. The company has committed $250 million globally to build out registered apprenticeship and other training programs by 2025.
- The Texas Workforce Commission, with a $15 million investment in the state’s first-ever nursing apprenticeships.
- The North American Building Trades Union with a commitment to train 250,000 new apprentices over the next five years, and to bring more women, veterans, and people of color into the construction industry.
Aon, a multinational professional services firm, also has joined the initiative—reupping its commitment to invest $30 million in creating 10,000 apprenticeships nationwide by 2030.
The company has been a leader in expanding apprenticeships in the United States, since it launched its program in 2017 with just 26 learners. Since then, Aon has grown its own apprenticeship program substantially and built a network of other employers that collectively sponsor more than 1,000 apprenticeship positions in Chicago, its U.S. headquarters.
It’s also expanded its apprenticeship network and been growing it in six other cities and regions, including Houston, Minnesota, and the Washington, D.C. metro.
“In the five years of our U.S. program, we’ve seen apprentices benefit from on-the-job training and in-classroom learning and hone skills that will serve them throughout their careers,” says Shay Robinson, public affairs manager of the Global Eco-Systems & Apprenticeship Program at Aon.
As the network has grown, Robinson says, one of the biggest challenges has been getting the word out to would-be participants. Community colleges have been particularly helpful in sharing the opportunities with their students, she says.
“As we continue to grow the network, our challenge will be ensuring future talent is aware of these opportunities in each apprenticeship city.”