In 2014, President Obama set a national goal to double the number of U.S. apprenticeships within 5 years, sparking a serious growth trend in the system. The next year, this goal was followed by the administration and Congress investing $265 million in new funding to support apprenticeship.1 As a result, more than 197,500 individuals entered the apprenticeship system nationwide in 2015 to obtain the skills they need to succeed in their career while earning the wages they need to build financial security.2

With middle-skilled jobs on the rise " and accounting for nearly 43% of all job growth between 2013 and 2015 " apprenticeships are needed to help workers learn the most in-demand skills.

The "earn and learn" strategy of an apprenticeship is a win-win-win for workers, employers, and the public good: On average, an individual who completes an apprenticeship earns $50,000 annually and employers retain 91 percent of apprentices once they have completed their programs. Furthermore, in 2013 Washington State projected that for every $1 it spent on apprenticeship, taxpayers would see a $23 return on investment.3

For several years, Pennsylvania-based manufacturing company JWF Industries has been investing in its own workers through a company-sponsored apprenticeship program.4 A solution to the skills gap in their local workforce, the apprenticeship program brings in untrained recruits and assigns them to a paid, on-the-job training program that enables them to ultimately fill vacancies in their own company. To accompany their onsite work, apprentices learn skills theory online and at their own pace through Penn Foster. Each program can be customized to their specialization area and focus directly on the skills they practice in the shop, making the solution ideal for both JWF and its employees. In a 2014 article, JWF Shop Operations Manager Jim Wiesheier noted, "Instead of going to school for this training, they can come here and get paid to earn their certification."

The workers at JWF are set-up for professional " and financial " success. Once an apprentice sticks out the program for more than a year, all costs are covered for the program. For entry-level machine operator apprentices, it takes about 18 months to move to an upper-level position; with each level upgrade comes a pay increase as well. However, employees that enter the program with prior experience may test into a higher level, pushing them toward their certification even faster.

To learn more about the industrial training programs and apprenticeships used by JWF and 1,000+ employers nationwide, click here. 

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Resources: Photo credit. (1, 3) Center for American Progress (2) Department of Labor (4) The Tribune-Democrat.