The financial return on investments in apprenticeships is substantial. With an average government investment of less than $1,000 per apprentice in a federally-registered program, states realized an average net social benefit of $49,427 over the career of an apprentice in the form of increased tax receipts and reduced use of public assistance. Businesses realize a significant return on their investment in apprenticeship programs through reduced turnover and improved recruitment, increased production and productivity among apprentices, improved employee engagement, and a pipeline of people to move into management positions.
Of course, the greatest return on investment is realized by the apprentices themselves. People who complete federally-registered apprenticeship programs earn an average of $301,533 more over their career, while people who complete part of an apprenticeship program receive an average of $123,906 over the life of their career. And, this return on investment begins immediately—91% of apprentices find work upon completing a program at an average annual salary of about $60,000.
Because apprenticeship programs yield such significant benefits to employees and employers alike, they enjoy wide bipartisan support. President Barack Obama led an effort to double the number of registered apprentices in the United States, securing the first-ever federal budget allocation for apprenticeship programs from Congress in 2016. Between 2015 and 2017, the federal government invested more than $265 million in apprenticeship programs, largely in grants for states and industry partnerships to develop or expand successful programs. The Obama Administration, under Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez, also sought to diversify apprenticeship programs, allocating approximately $20 million to fourteen trade and intermediary organizations across the country to expand the use of apprenticeship programs in high growth industries and increase participant diversity. This was a marked increase from the federal government’s previous—and ongoing—investment in gender diversity in apprenticeships through the Women in Apprenticeship and Non-Traditional Occupations Act, which typically provides a tiny amount of funding (around $1 million dollars annually) to support a handful of organizations working to get more women into apprenticeships. Most recently, President Donald Trump announced $200 million in federal support for apprenticeships.