Blog
Now is the Time to Invest in Apprenticeships
Summary

This issue brief reviews the status of middle-skill jobs and considers the obstacles—and opportunities—to using apprenticeship to fill them.

Publication Date
Nov. 18 2016

In August, the president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York delivered some long awaited good news: After years of stagnation, middle-wage jobs are coming back. Between 2013 and 2015, middle-wage jobs accounted for nearly 43 percent of all job growth. This is a welcome change.

During the Great Recession, the economy lost more than 8 million jobs. The employment-to-population ratio dropped to its lowest level in 25 years. Middle-skill workers were some of the hardest hit, and they have also been the slowest to recover. Despite a long period of economic growth, job growth has been frustratingly concentrated at the high and low ends of the pay spectrum.

Middle-wage job growth signals that the economy is getting stronger. As jobs that pay middle-class wages become more available, federal and state governments should step up investments in the workforce that will fill these jobs. Apprenticeship—a so-called earn and learn training strategy that combines on-the-job training with classroom instruction—has a proven track record of helping workers learn in-demand skills. Yet apprenticeship programs are relatively scarce. A lack of public and private investment in training, limited uptake across industries, cultural norms, and insufficient diversity and inclusion all make it a challenge to scale apprenticeship programs.

This issue brief reviews the status of middle-skill jobs and considers the obstacles—and opportunities—to using apprenticeship to fill them.