Apprenticeships are a win-win

They’re an opportunity for family-sustaining careers for all NH residents

When you hear the word “apprentice,” you might immediately associate it with construction or other skilled trade jobs. But today, in New Hampshire and states across the nation, the Apprenticeship USA system holds opportunities for training in all industries, including health care, IT, advanced manufacturing, transportation and energy.

You may also associate “apprentice” with men, but New Hampshire is creating exciting opportunities for women to enter the skilled trades through apprenticeships.

In fact, with a network of more than 150,000 employers in more than 1,000 occupations, the Apprenticeship USA system has trained millions of apprentices during the last 75 years. Today, the average starting wage for an apprenticeship graduate is more than $50,000, and apprentices will earn an average of $300,000 more over their lifetime than their non-apprentice peers.

The benefits to businesses also make choosing apprenticeships a win-win. Benefits include the ability to improve productivity and profitability, standardize training, reduce turnover and receive tax credits. And for every dollar taxpayers invest in apprenticeship programs, we see $27 in returns.

Apprenticeships are a particularly important opportunity to bring women, 50 percent of whom are in just 4.9 percent of all job categories (all of which are low-pay jobs), into the high-skill, high-pay careers in union construction.

Our partnership with Building Pathways New Hampshire, a pre-apprenticeship for women, co-sponsored by the NH Building Trades Unions, the New England Regional Council of Carpenters and the NH AFL-CIO, exemplifies this commitment to creating innovative opportunities to end the wage gap for New Hampshire women.

This is all good news – but there is still work to be done. While in the U.S. we have about 375,000 apprentices, Germany, for example, has about 1.8 million apprentices working with 500,000 employers. That’s why last year, President Obama established a goal of doubling the number of registered apprenticeship programs in the U.S. in the next five years.

To increase apprenticeship awareness, the NH Department of Labor and NH Employment Security are sharing their commitment to apprenticeships to educate local leaders and businesses about the benefits of apprenticeship programs. Both are committed to supporting opportunities for family-sustaining careers for all New Hampshire residents. 

James W. Craig is commissioner of the NH Department of Labor and George Copadis is commissioner of NH Employment Security.

Categories: Opinion