What is apprenticeship? 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 registeredmeaning they are part of the federal apprenticeship program, meet specific standards, and are designed to result in portable skillsor nonregistered, 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 apprenticeship? Registered apprenticeship programs are operated by a sponsor who 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. Nonregistered apprenticeships are provided by employers. 

Why is apprenticeship important? Apprenticeship is designed to ensure that participants are learning the specific skills required for a job, practicing those skills in a real-world context, and receiving mentoring from supervisors. Since all apprentices are paid employees, registered apprenticeship is an “earn and learn” model. 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.