Triptychs: Registered Apprenticeships Help Prepare Texas’s Next Generation of Workers

Electrician apprenticeship at a college with a female instructor

TIP’s Triptychs series features three examples that, when brought together, illuminate a subject of interest to our clients, partners, and colleagues.

Registered apprenticeships, which are approved and validated by the US Department of Labor, provide job seekers a pathway to learn essential skills in their chosen professions and gain nationally recognized certifications while also earning a living. This earn-while-you-learn approach provides financial stability, guaranteeing progressive wage increases as apprentices continue through the program. By providing a pathway to stable and fulfilling careers, apprenticeships also help address hiring inequities. Although some employers have begun adopting a skills-based hiring practice, individuals without a bachelor’s degree often face a “paper ceiling,” excluding them from high-paying jobs and career advancement. Apprenticeships also benefit employers who can train their incoming workforce to ensure it is equipped with the skills and knowledge necessary to excel in the profession.

In Texas, there are currently over 650 registered apprenticeship programs in industries such as construction, manufacturing, healthcare, information technology, energy, transportation, and education. The following are three examples of registered apprenticeship programs in the state that have had success preparing the next generation of workers.

Early Education Apprenticeship Program

The Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) is expanding its early childhood apprenticeship programs to build the talent pipeline statewide. With a nearly $800,000 investment, TWC created two early childhood education apprenticeship programs in Dallas and Waco and expanded an existing program in Tarrant County, the Camp Fire First Texas’ Early Education Apprenticeship Program (EEAP). In the EEAP, apprentices are full-time, paid employees who receive two years of professional development, salary negotiation support, and one-on-one career coaching. Program graduates can convert their completed apprenticeship hours into college credit, typically placing them three to five courses away from earning an associate’s degree. By leveraging existing relationships between workforce boards and childcare providers in the state, the EEAP invests in childcare workers to address a widespread labor shortage.

Statewide Healthcare Registered Apprenticeship Initiative

Exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, states across the nation have faced a significant shortage of registered nurses. Texas alone will face a shortage of an estimated 57,000 registered nurses by 2030. In response to this shortage, the Texas Workforce Commission has invested $15 million to launch a new Healthcare Registered Apprenticeship Initiative that will provide apprentices with a pathway to earn an RN certification. Employers will hire and train apprentices in nursing and other healthcare professions to create a stronger talent pipeline. While this iteration of the program is a new initiative, other similar programs have been successful in Texas. Employers currently participating in apprenticeship programs have seen a $1.47 return on investment for every dollar spent on apprenticeships, making this a proven and sustainable workforce development strategy.

Craft Training Center of the Coastal Bend

The Craft Training Center of the Coastal Bend (CTCCB) offers apprenticeship programs in Electrical and Plumbing. Over the course of four years, apprentices work full-time while attending classes two evenings a week. These courses can be used to fulfill community college credit requirements, providing apprentices with an opportunity to accelerate their higher education journey. At the end of the program, apprentices are certified journeyman electricians and plumbers in the state of Texas and are prepared to launch their careers. Significant investments from industry leaders in the Coastal Bend have helped keep costs low for apprentices and have provided funding for instructor training. Industry partners have also committed to hiring local apprentices upon graduation. Additionally, CTCCB’s success can be attributed to its participation in the region’s coalition of workforce partners, UpSkill Coastal Bend, which supports apprentices beyond graduation as part of its objective to attract, train, and place skilled workers in well-paying, in-demand occupations.

Ashlin Gray, TIP’s 2022 Economic Development Intern, contributed to the research and writing of this post.

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