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How Registered Apprenticeship Can Diversify the Nation’s Workforce

Updated: Sep 8

Registered Apprenticeship is a valuable tool aiding diversity expansion in the United States workforce. Although there has been a significant improvement in the racial diversity of the labor workforce, as of 2022, the majority of the American workplace is made up of 78% White employees, followed by 17% Hispanic, 13% Black, 6% Asian, 2% Biracial, and 1% American Indian. Similarly, while the gender makeup has seen improvement with more women (58%) in the workplace than men (51%), women still earn less money per hour than White males.


Apprenticeship—specifically, Registered Apprenticeship—can be leveraged to help diversify the workforce and provide sustainable career opportunities to minority and disadvantaged workers.

For a detailed look at Registered Apprenticeship, check out our other resources What is Registered Apprenticeship and How It Can Help Your Business.


A Snapshot of Diversity in Registered Apprenticeship Programs


A Registered Apprenticeship Program, often called RAP, is a government-sanctioned apprenticeship that includes formal training with a federally approved structure and curriculum. Training includes traditional classroom education and on-the-job training, which leads to nationally recognized industry credentials.


Although apprenticeship programs do not discriminate against race, gender, social status, and abilities, White apprentices still dominate the apprenticeship workforce. According to demographic data provided by 686,000 apprentices between 2010 and 2019, 77.5% identified as white, 15.3% Black, 2.9% American Indian/Alaska Native, 2.1% Asian, 1.6% Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander, and 0.5% as multi-racial. 567,000 apprentices provided information concerning ethnicity, with 18.3% identifying as Hispanic.


Even though White apprentices still represent over 70% of workers, data comparisons from 2010 to 2019 show that apprentices are becoming more diverse. Furthermore, data found that racial representation among apprentices is higher than in the overall workforce. For example, Black apprenticeship representation is higher than labor representation in 17 industries, and American Indian or Alaska Native apprenticeship representation is higher in 18 industries. Hispanic apprenticeship representation also jumped from 14.4% to 22.4%, exceeding Hispanic workforce participation by almost 6%.


A Snapshot of Women in Registered Apprenticeship Programs


Although women are offered the same training, education, and family-sustaining wages as men, as of 2019, only 12.5% of active apprentices are women. While this may not seem significant, it’s a 218% increase from 2014, when only 9.4% of apprentices were female. Research from the US Department of Labor suggests that the rise in female apprentices can be credited to more programs providing supportive services such as child care, personalized support mentors, female role models in male-dominated industries, financial assistance, and transportation.


While there is proven growth among women in Registered Apprenticeship Programs, Sarah McCammon from NPR points out that women only make up 3% of the trade workforce in the United States. However, with the recent passing of the bipartisan infrastructure bill, American Progress predicts that if 10% of jobs created by this bill go to women, more than 1 million women can earn family-sustaining wages over the next ten years.


For more information on the infrastructure bill, check out How the New Infrastructure Bill Affects the Nation


A Snapshot of Accessibility in Registered Apprenticeship


Registered Apprenticeship Programs have a unique opportunity to create a disability-inclusive and accessible workplace purposely. Nationwide, the workforce has largely omitted persons with a disability, as seen in 2015, where only 17% of all people with disabilities were employed compared to 60% of workers without a disability. To help increase the accessibility within the workforce, in 2019, regulations for RAPs established a goal to have 7% of apprentices be individuals with disabilities. Recent years have also seen more apprenticeship inclusion for people with disabilities to have equitable access to sustainable career pathways.


As businesses nationwide seek to diversify their workforce, it’s important to acknowledge people with disabilities as valuable candidates in the talent pool.


Improving Nationwide Workforce Diversity Through RAPs


Our team at Intelligent Partnerships, Inc. put together four highly researched eBooks on Registered Apprenticeship and its value in improving and diversifying the nation. Each eBook is available for free download by clicking the links below.


A Brief History of Apprenticeship


Discover how and why Apprenticeships became an integral part of American history and codified into law, and learn how Registered Apprenticeships impact the Future World of Work.





An Introduction to Registered Apprenticeship Programs in the United States


Learn more about what a Registered Apprenticeship is and what makes it unique. This installment will help readers gain foundational knowledge of Registered Apprenticeship Programs.




Expanding DEIA Programs Through Registered Apprenticeship


Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility (DEIA) is becoming more important than ever in today’s workplace. Find out how Registered Apprenticeship Programs can help organizations embrace and implement policies seamlessly integrating DEIA into day-to-day practices.




A Guide to Starting or Joining a Registered Apprenticeship Program


The last eBook in the series provides information to help get organizations started with Registered Apprenticeship Programs. From resources to a step-by-step guide, this will help organizations in the process of starting or joining a Registered Apprenticeship Program.





Key Takeaways


Registered Apprenticeship is a valuable step in diversifying the workforce. As RAPs become more diverse within themselves, DEIA opportunities will expand nationwide to create a more inclusive labor market.


For more information on DEIA, check out How Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility Impact the Workforce


This product was developed as a contribution to JFF’s National Innovation Hub for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility in Registered Apprenticeship. Operated by Jobs for the Future, the Innovation Hub drives change in the Registered Apprenticeship system to increase diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility for populations that do not yet have access to the full promise of apprenticeship.


This workforce product was funded by a grant awarded by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL)’s Employment and Training Administration (ETA). The product was created by the recipient and does not necessarily reflect the official position of DOL/ETA. DOL/ETA makes no guarantees, warranties, or assurances of any kind, express or implied, with respect to such information, including any information on linked sites and including, but not limited to, accuracy of the information or its completeness, timeliness, usefulness, adequacy, continued availability, or ownership. This product is copyrighted by the institution that created it.

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