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New Report: Youth Apprenticeship Participation Doubled In Ten Years; Equity Gaps Nearly Unchanged

Amid national labor shortage, new Jobs for the Future report finds youth apprenticeship programs reach only a fraction of young workers; offers recommendations to help employers tackle equity gaps in Registered Apprenticeship

BOSTON, Sept. 13, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- Jobs for the Future (JFF), a national nonprofit that drives transformation in the American workforce and education systems, today announced the release of a new report which found that while youth participation in Registered Apprenticeship programs has more than doubled over the past 10 years, equity gaps based on race, ethnicity, and gender remain nearly unchanged compared to a decade ago.

JFF (PRNewsfoto/JFF)
JFF (PRNewsfoto/JFF)

"At a time when employers face a shortage of skilled talent, building a more accessible and inclusive system of apprenticeship is a talent, a business—and an equity—imperative. We can't afford to leave any talent on the table," said Maria Flynn, president and CEO of Jobs for the Future. "Registered Apprenticeship is a proven strategy for helping young people earn fair wages while learning on the job. Nonetheless, this research makes it clear that despite their growth and potential, youth apprenticeship has not yet fully delivered on its potential to positively impact social and economic mobility for women of all backgrounds and people of color."

The report—titled "The Current State of Diversity and Equity in U.S. Apprenticeships For Young People"—draws on more than a decade of federal data from the U.S. Department of Labor's (DOL) Registered Apprenticeship Partners Information Database System (RAPIDS) to surface new insights into the youngest apprentices ages 16 to 24.

According to Labor Department data, apprenticeship participants earn approximately $300,000 more than their similar peers throughout their lifetime—with an average starting wage of $31/hour. As federal funding for Registered Apprenticeship programs has increased, the number of youth apprentices starting a program has more than doubled over the last 10 years—jumping by 113 percent between 2010 and 2020. Unfortunately, despite steady growth, disparities in youth apprenticeship participation have remained consistent:

  • Overwhelmingly Male, Predominantly White. While young people increased their share of the nation's apprentices, nearly 90 percent of youth apprentices are male, and 63 percent of youth apprentices identify as white. Women remain dramatically underrepresented in youth apprenticeship. However, the trendline is improving: female representation in youth apprenticeship doubled between 2010-2020 (5.3 percent versus 10.92 percent).

  • Black Youth Apprenticeship Declined; Latinx Youth Apprenticeship Increased. In 2010, just 7.3 percent of youth apprentices were Black, a number that improved slightly and peaked in 2016 at 8.68 percent. By the end of the decade, an even smaller percentage of youth apprentices identified as Black. Meanwhile, Latinx youth representation (designated as Hispanic in DOL research) grew slightly over the decade from 18 percent in 2010 to 21 percent in 2020.

  • Pay Gap Among Women and People of Color Remains. Male youth apprentices still consistently earned nearly twice as much—$30.57 per hour at the completion of their apprenticeship programs while women made $17.62. The top occupation for women, pharmacy technician, paid $12 per hour while the top occupation for males, electrician, paid $26 per hour. Similarly, Black apprentices' average exit wage of $23 per hour falls short when compared to $30 earned by whites.

  • STEM Apprenticeships on the Rise. The percentage of youth apprentices in STEM occupations grew five-fold, suggesting a strong opportunity to connect women of all backgrounds and people of color to opportunities in higher-paying STEM-related fields where they have been disproportionately underrepresented.

To help employers take action to create more equitable and inclusive youth apprenticeship programs, JFF has also developed an accompanying framework to help employers and apprenticeship program leaders to embed diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility practices in their programs in an effort to disrupt equity gaps and reach prospective workers of all backgrounds.

The framework provides recommendations designed to ensure that employers not only increase the enrollment of apprentices from diverse backgrounds, but also provide needed support throughout the apprenticeship experience in order to drive equity.

"Registered Apprenticeship works, but we have to make sure it works for everyone. Making apprenticeship more accessible and equitable for young people requires intentional change by employers and providers," said Myriam Sullivan, director at JFF's Center for Apprenticeship & Work-Based Learning. "This is about providing actionable recommendations that will help build a system of youth apprenticeship that is more equitable, inclusive and accessible—while driving the sort of wages, job placements and opportunities for advancement needed to thrive in today's economy."

Founded in 2017, the JFF Center for Apprenticeship and Work-Based Learning draws on the organization's broader expertise in education and workforce issues. The Center has three key areas of focus that include meeting employer needs, preparing for the future of work, and ensuring equity in advancement.

For more information about JFF's work to support the development and expansion of Registered Apprenticeships, visit the Center for Apprenticeship & Work-Based Learning.

ABOUT JFF: Jobs for the Future (JFF) drives transformation of the American workforce and education systems to achieve equitable economic advancement for all. www.jff.org



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