Please note: As of January 20, 2021, information in some news releases may be out of date or not reflect current policies.

News Release

Department of Labor and the Obama administration
celebrate first-ever National Apprenticeship Week

More than 200 local events will highlight the positive impact of apprenticeship in America
see text description below.

WASHINGTON — Apprenticeship is a proven path for workers into the middle class and an effective strategy for businesses to train for the skills they need. For decades, the skilled trades have led the way in developing and refining apprenticeships in America. Today, in addition to using their expertise to apply this unique learn and earn model to modern methods and skills, new apprenticeships are emerging to prepare workers with the skills needed to thrive in today's global economy.

To "support and encourage apprenticeship programs that will help rebuild our middle class" and "rededicate ourselves to educating more of our people, retraining our workforce, and renewing our nation's promise to put the American dream within the reach of the determined," President Obama proclaimed Nov. 1-7, 2015 National Apprenticeship Week.

There are more than 445,000 active apprenticeships across the country, with more added every day. These programs not only offer an education — in many cases at no or low cost to participants — but also provide a clear career path forward through new skills, higher wages, and opportunities for advancement. Apprentices earn an average starting yearly salary of more than $50,000, and during their careers, they'll earn $300,000 more on average than their non-apprentice peers.

At the same time, apprenticeship is a proven strategy for recruiting, training, and retaining a highly skilled and diverse workforce. The apprenticeship model helps businesses increase productivity and profitability by tackling talent shortages to develop a pipeline of employees trained to succeed. International studies show that for every $1 invested in apprenticeship, employers get $1.47 back in benefits, and 97 percent of businesses with apprenticeship programs would recommend apprenticeship to other companies.

"National Apprenticeship Week provides business, education, and community leaders as well as students and workers with the unique chance to elevate and expand the conversation around the positive impact of apprenticeships in America," said U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez. "Apprenticeships today are applying the unique 'earn while you learn' foundation and applying it in never before seen ways to expand opportunities for working people in America."

In celebration of National Apprenticeship Week, local community colleges, employers, unions and others are hosting more than 200 open houses and other events to help tell the unique story of how apprenticeship works for America. Among them are the following:

  • Robeson Community College in North Carolina is partnering with Campbell Soup Company and Pepperidge Farm to open the doors to the labs that drive their apprenticeship programs
  • North American Building Trades Unions are hosting open houses in more than 15 cities
  • Time Warner Cable will roll out its new apprenticeship program in Missouri
  • Buhler will hold community open houses at their North Carolina and Minnesota facilities
  • CVS Health is announcing plans to expand their innovative apprenticeship programs for pharmacy technicians and retail store managers into more stores and new markets

National Apprenticeship Week is the latest in the Obama administration's efforts to support and expand apprenticeships through the ApprenticeshipUSA initiative. Since President Obama's 2014 State of the Union address when he challenged employers and educators to double the number of apprenticeships by 2019, the U.S. has had the largest growth in apprenticeships in nearly a decade.

  • Unprecedented federal investment: The $175 million American Apprenticeship Grants announced in September were the largest federal investment in apprenticeship. These grants are helping to train and hire more than 34,000 new apprentices in the next five years in high-growth and high-tech industries such as health care, IT and advanced manufacturing while scaling up proven programs in construction, transportation and energy. President Obama's FY 2016 Budget proposes increased funding for job training and employment services, and called on Congress to invest $100 million in competitive grants to strengthen state and industry apprenticeships and to create a $2 billion Apprenticeship Training Fund to help double the number of apprentices in America.
  • LEADERs showing the way: More than 150 employers, colleges, and labor organizations have signed on to be ApprenticeshipUSA LEADERS (Leaders of Excellence in Apprenticeship Development, Education and Research), committing to expand their own training programs and encouraging their peers to follow.
  • Expanding educational opportunities for apprenticeship graduates: More than 230 colleges nationwide have joined the Registered Apprenticeship College Consortium, which enable apprentices to earn college credits through their job-related instruction, and apply them to other participating colleges across the country. The RACC is helping to strengthened relationships between apprenticeship programs and post-secondary institutions, while also providing apprentices with accelerated options for the attainment of an associate or bachelor degree and the flexibility to pursue higher education wherever life takes them.

Secretary Perez will kick off National Apprenticeship Week with events in Cleveland today highlighting how the local transit authority is working with Cuyahoga Community College to recruit and retain a new generation of workers. The partnership is benefitting from an American Apprenticeship grant to expand their programs.

Throughout the week business leaders, educators, community organizations, as well as current and former apprentices will be sharing how apprenticeship works for them throughout the week using #ApprenticeshipWorks and #NAW2015, including a "Tweet Storm" beginning at 11 a.m. EST today.

Office of Public Affairs
November 2, 2015
Release Number
Media Contact: David Roberts
Phone Number