While most of the conversation is about the shortage of new workers in the construction and the trades, there is good news—even a weeklong holiday to celebrate. For instance, we have found apprenticeships to be a very effective tool for recruiting and training—our own program has taken off.
We’re not alone in seeing success. Companies and organizations nationwide are developing apprenticeship programs. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, there has been a 64% growth of new apprentices since 2012 (more than two million new apprentices in the last decade). And though the COVID-19 pandemic caused a dip in new apprentices in 2020, there was a 9% increase of new apprentices in 2021. Overall, more than 241,000 new apprentices entered the national apprenticeship system in 2021.
Successes like these are the focus of National Apprenticeship Week. Celebrated from November 14-20, the week of programs was created by U.S. Department of Labor and is being honored for the eight successive years in 2022.
As part of it, industry, labor, equity, workforce, education and government leaders host events to showcase the value and success of Registered Apprenticeship. These programs are not only essential to expanding the workforce, but also are invaluable in re-building our country’s economy and advancing racial and gender equity in the trades.
Nationwide, there were nearly 6,000 apprentices obtaining the skills needed to succeed while earning the wages needed to build financial security. Additionally, about 96,000 apprentices graduated from the apprenticeship system in Fiscal Year 2021.
Other statistics show that there are more than 89,000 construction apprentices employed in the U.S. and the average age of a construction apprentice is 38 years old. If we want to continue to grow our industry to meet the demands of the consumers in America, we need more people in construction—and we need younger people.
The ABC Maine Apprenticeship Program
From Leonardo da Vinci and Benjamin Franklin to Henry Ford and Stella McCartney, history is filled with famous people who developed through apprenticeships. These periods of intense training allow workers humble and renowned to enter a field through first-hand experience. Often, they’re paid and can benefit businesses as much as workers, who get a steady flow of trained workers familiar with their company and clients.
We started the ABC Maine apprenticeship program in 2021 to provide on-the-job training and related classroom training. From there, expert instructors teach apprentices theory, safety and skill trade fundamentals in a classroom setting. And then comes the fun part.
With on-the-job training while working for member companies, apprentices get their hands dirty (literally), apply their knowledge and skills and improve and learn by doing. They also don’t accrue any student loan debt by participating in the apprenticeship program. Instead, participants are paid to learn and work.
For sponsoring companies, the ABC Maine apprenticeship program can reduce the cost associated with high labor turnover. Employees who have participated in the program show high morale and loyalty when training and working.
ABC Maine member companies also get a diversified, flexible and dedicated workforce and a larger pool of employees with unique skills. There’s also often an increase in productivity because employees in a structured training and apprenticeship program are more motivated, we have found.
We will continue to do whatever we can to connect with schools, educators and counselors to educate them on what ABC Maine has to offer as an association.
For more information on joining ABC Maine, click here or call Membership Director Tami Staples at 207-620-6561.