Did Apprentices Achieve Faster Earnings Growth Than Comparable Workers? Findings from the American Apprenticeship Initiative Evaluation (Issue Brief)
ETA launched the American Apprenticeship Initiative (AAI) in October 2015 and provided five-year grants to 46 grantees to expand registered apprenticeship into new sectors and to populations historically underrepresented in apprenticeships. Some AAI grantees received no-cost extensions of their periods of performance through September 2021. In April 2016, ETA commissioned an evaluation of the AAI to build evidence about the effectiveness of registered apprenticeship for apprentices and employers. The evaluation included four sub-studies (an implementation study, an outcomes study, an employer return-on-investment (ROI) study, and an assessment of a demonstration to encourage employers to adopt apprenticeship). Three reports comprised the implementation sub-study. In addition to the sub-study reports, the AAI Evaluation included five topical issue briefs.
This brief examines the earnings growth of AAI apprentices compared to the earnings growth for comparable workers during the same period. Comparable workers are defined as workers with earnings records in the U.S. Census Bureau’s Quarterly Workforce Indicators (QWI) who have the same sex, race, ethnicity, age, education level, and state residence as AAI apprentices. This brief also describes how the AAI apprentices’ earnings growth varied by different demographic and occupational factors. Growth in earnings of AAI apprentices, however, does not indicate AAI impacts or effectiveness. By 2.5 years (10 quarters) after entering the apprenticeship, AAI apprentices earned about $1,000 more on average per quarter than comparable workers ($14,920 compared to $13,694). Average quarterly earnings of the AAI apprentices rose by 43 percent from one year before entering the apprenticeship until 2.5 years after starting, compared to only 16 percent for comparable workers during the same period. AAI apprentices in all occupations had higher earnings growth relative to comparable workers. Although both women and men AAI apprentices experienced earnings growth, women AAI apprentices’ earnings growth exceeded that of men AAI apprentices’ earnings growth by 26 percentage points between four quarters prior and 10 quarters after enrollment (62 percent versus 36 percent). The pay gap between women and men AAI apprentices closed substantially by quarter 10 after the start of the apprenticeships.