Apprenticeship Data Needed to Tell Success Story

Rachel Zinn
May 9, 2017

Participants at the 600-person Apprenticeship Forward conference in Washington D.C. raised several important themes, including the need for better data about apprenticeships to demonstrate that they are an effective way for workers from diverse backgrounds to gain skills and advance in careers.

National Skills Coalition (WDQC’s parent organization) and New America organized the event, along with seven other organizations and in consultation with the U.S. Departments of Education and Labor. The conference on May 4 - 5 convened business leaders, state policymakers, educators, and other stakeholders to discuss three critical challenges facing apprenticeship expansion: increasing industry engagement; addressing equity while diversifying the apprenticeship pipeline; and implementing new public policies.

The importance of apprenticeship data was raised in sessions throughout the conference, and was the featured topic on a panel moderated by WDQC Policy Analyst Jenna Leventoff. Jenna opened by explaining the basics of apprenticeship data, and then engaged speakers:

Greg Wilson, Department of Labor (DOL), Office of Apprenticeship, who discussed planned upgrades to DOL’s Registered Apprenticeship Partners Information Data System (RAPIDS). This case management system allows local, state, and federal apprenticeship managers to monitor data about programs and apprentices. DOL is making the system more user-friendly, including the addition of online tools that will allow the public to analyze aggregate data. Greg also noted that DOL is working to share more personally identifiable individual-level data with state agencies, so they can enhance their own analyses. Researchers interested in working with individual-level data without personally identifying information may request access to an anonymized data file.

Pradeep Kotamraju, Bureau of Career and Technical Education, Iowa Department of Education, who discussed his state’s growing emphasis on work-based learning and the limitations of relevant data. Pradeep said that Iowa has been successful in supplementing administrative program data with surveys, but it will be helpful to get additional information from RAPIDS.

Valerie Piet, Montana Department of Labor and Industry, who said that her state is embarking on research to identify the return on investment (ROI) for apprenticeship programs, and is using data to identify policy priorities. Valeri noted that only 40 percent of those who start an apprenticeship complete it, so Montana is trying to identify effective interventions to improve completion. The state also is working to get all registered apprenticeships on the list of eligible providers under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), so that disadvantaged populations will have easier access to information about apprenticeship programs with a track record of success.