What is it? Apprenticeship is a training model that combines paid on-the-job training with classroom-based technical instruction typically resulting in a credential or certification. Apprenticeships can be registered, which means they are part of the federal apprenticeship program, meet specific standards and are designed to result in portable skills, or non-registered where they are sponsored by employers but not subject to federal rules and standards. A registered apprenticeship is one of the most intensive and structured examples of work-based learning, and it is designed to allow apprentices to learn in-demand technical skills, employability skills, and professionalism while employed on a job site.

Who provides it? Registered apprenticeship programs are operated by a “sponsor” that registers their program with either the US Department of Labor’s Office of Apprenticeship or a state apprenticeship agency. Sponsors can be employers or employer associations and can involve partnerships with labor-management organizations, unions, community colleges, or intermediary organizations. Non-registered apprenticeships are provided by employers. 

Why is it important? It is designed to address weaknesses of classroom-based education and training. Since all apprentices are paid employees, registered apprenticeship is an “earn and learn” model that avoids student debt accumulation. The Office of Apprenticeship and state apprenticeship agencies approve a program’s apprenticeship standards, ensuring that the training apprentices receive meets nationally recognized occupational standards.