Where Do Apprenticeships and Higher Ed Meet?

Postsecondary & Workforce

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Word on the street is apprenticeships create a direct pathway to in-demand jobs by providing an on-ramp for individuals to enter the workforce while learning the skills needed to enter specific jobs and careers. As part of broad workforce development initiatives, states are relying on registered apprenticeships as one way to meet workforce demand. In their workforce development planning within the context of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, states have identified apprenticeships as one of many opportunities for people to gain on-the-job experience while earning a wage.

As employers look for skilled individuals to fill high-demand jobs, registered apprenticeships provide opportunities for people to engage in dedicated on-the-job training in conjunction with related classroom instruction that is directly linked to a career path. The benefit of related instruction in tandem to on-job training is clear; however, the connection between postsecondary education and apprenticeships is less clear.

Apprenticeship programs frequently make connections with postsecondary institutions at regional and local levels. Often, employers establish apprenticeship agreements that require instruction or support from postsecondary institutions. These partnerships prove advantageous as workforce needs tend to require unique skill sets based on the industry and region of the state. While not a blanket requirement, this is a common way regions and localities connect apprenticeships with postsecondary education.

At the state level, however, only nine states and the District of Columbia require a direct instructional requirement between postsecondary education and registered apprenticeships, according to our new 50-State Comparison.

Here are some ways states are making direct connection between apprenticeships and postsecondary education:

As states continue to look for ways to support and develop their state’s workforce, opportunities for postsecondary institutions and workforce systems to engage in the development and implementation of training will continue to emerge. There is no single approach for postsecondary engagement in a state’s workforce development system, which illustrates the spectrum of opportunities for partnerships in training the workforce of the future.

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Assistant Director at Education Commission of the States | landerson@ecs.org

In her role, Lexi oversees project management for Education Commission of the States' policy work. Lexi has more than 10 years of experience working as a higher education administrator and policy analyst, with the past five years focused on postsecondary transition policies. When Lexi is not immersed in the education policy world, she can be found running, skiing or exploring with her toddler in the mountains.

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Senior Policy Analyst at Education Commission of the States | tkeily@ecs.org

As a senior policy analyst, Tom contributes to the work of the policy team on issues across the education spectrum. Prior to joining Education Commission of the States, Tom taught middle school in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Tom is dedicated to providing state policymakers with quality research that supports them in making a positive impact on students' lives.

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