Describes the state of apprenticeships in the nation, discusses the difference between the United States and European models of apprenticeship, and defines the obstacles facing community colleges in in implementing apprenticeship training programs.

“In this report [the authors] explore how community colleges could play a more active role in growing the number of apprenticeships nationwide, a role that would contribute to resolving the current mismatch between what postsecondary institutions produce and what employers need. [They] begin with a brief summary of the past and current state of apprenticeships and the role apprenticeships play in other countries. [They] then turn to the challenges faced by community colleges interested in sponsoring apprenticeship programs and what reforms might help community colleges overcome the internal and external obstacles in their way to expansion. [They] conclude with the role private apprenticeship service providers may play as competitors to community colleges interested in apprenticeship programs” (p.1)

“[T]here is a growing belief that colleges are not adequately preparing students for the jobs and careers needed in the 21st century and that a substantial gap exists between the training and education America’s college graduates receive and the skills today’s labor market demands.

Of the many options being actively discussed to bridge the divide, apprenticeship programs are attracting widespread bipartisan support. Apprenticeships are often considered the ‘gold standard’ of workforce education. They are formal training programs during which successful applicants are paid while being trained on the job by experienced workers or mentors. Acquiring new skills in the workplace is accompanied by related training, typically provided by an educational institution such as a community college or a trade organization such as a union….

Public two-year community colleges are already central to the nation’s career and technical education system, granting hundreds of thousands of occupationally oriented certificates and technically focused associate degrees. Many community college leaders have welcomed the…call for apprenticeship programs, and some have already shown themselves adept at working with the Department of Labor’s registered apprenticeship programs. But the overwhelming majority of community colleges have a ways to go before they can meaningfully contribute to the number of apprenticeships that so many politicians and analysts argue the nation needs” (p.1).

(Abstractor: Authors and Website Staff)


Major Findings & Recommendations

The state of apprenticeships in the nation and Europe: •“The number of civilian apprenticeship programs fell dramatically during the Great Recession, even as college attendance…increased…” (p.7). •“Despite the heightened attention [to] apprenticeships, the number of individuals that complete an apprenticeship program is miniscule when compared to the over 961,000 sub-baccalaureate certificates awarded in 2014–15 and the over one million associate degrees or the nearly two million bachelor’s degrees awarded annually” (p.8). •“Over three-quarters of apprentices have a high school education or greater…[and] given the available data…only 5 percent of apprentices entered their respective programs with either some postsecondary…education or prior technical training, creating a large potential pool of apprenticeship trainees for community colleges” (p.8-9). •“England, Germany, and Switzerland have a far broader range of occupational categories…many being areas of study offered at American community colleges, such as customer service, sales, and business administration. These careers…[are] in sharp contrast to the narrower focus of apprenticeships in the US” (p.14). Challenges faced by community colleges: •“Cultural and Structural Challenges. Although community colleges offer many courses and credentials in career and technical fields meant to train students for immediate employment, they are primarily degree-granting institutions. Their culture frequently emphasizes general education in the liberal arts and related fields…” (p.16). •“Organizational and Environmental Challenges.” The lack of “corporate environment in close proximity to the college campus” is another challenge (p.17). “Community colleges located near the small number of US firms that have over 500 employees have the best opportunity to start and maintain apprenticeship programs…” (p.18). •“Costs, Government Subsidies, and Solutions. The transformation of community colleges into a major offerer of apprenticeships is in part tied to the availability of government subsidies. But…the flow of government money supporting apprenticeship…is often spotty and uncertain” (p.18). •“Competition from Private-Sector Providers….[P]rivate-sector…apprenticeship service providers (ASPs), can limit and perhaps even supplant the role of community colleges….ASPs…do what community colleges should be able to do well: recruit candidates, screen them, and match them to employers” (p.21). (Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)