January 21, 2016

Anne Killian
(262) 373-7614

Apprenticeship programs train for career—and for life

Survey finds almost 60% of programs offer life skills training

 Brookfield, WI, January 21, 2016—Becoming a registered apprentice requires completing a structured program with on-the-job training and technical instruction. The Top Trends in Jointly Managed Apprenticeship Programs: 2016 Survey Results report, published by the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans, found apprenticeship programs in the U.S. and Canada are starting to offer more than just extensive skill instruction as part of training.

Nearly 60% of apprenticeship programs are looking beyond the job title of electrician, carpenter, plumber or construction craft laboror and offering life skills training as part of the apprenticeship curriculum, with an additional 20% considering adding the training. Examples of life skills training currently offered include:

  • Work skills/behavior (91.8%)
  • Personal safety (79.9%)
  • Financial literacy skills (71.6%)
  • Communication/social skills (64.4%)
  • Computer/technology skills (56.7%).

"Apprenticeship programs have always been aimed at preparing workers for a successful, satisfying and safe career," said Julie Stich, CEBS, International Foundation Research Director. "Increasingly, programs are ensuring workers have a lifetime of success, both on the job and off. Those involved with developing training programs are realizing the importance of life skills in creating a strong foundation for their workers."

Apprenticeship programs are collaborating with various external partners to provide education, job assistance and funding opportunities. Two in three programs collaborate with technical colleges. Government agencies are a common partner—Two in five programs work with these entities.

The survey examined challenges among both apprenticeship programs and the individual apprentices. The majority (86.3%) of programs are facing economic challenges. Seventy-one percent of programs are experiencing a shortage of skilled candidates for apprenticeship training.

Programs reported that common challenges among their workers include:

  • Unemployment due to the cyclical/seasonal nature of work (73%)
  • Decreased job security (70%)
  • Unemployment due to economic conditions (69.7%)
  • Difficulty finding employment (63.5%)
  • Language and communication barriers (45.7%).

Many of these prevalent challenges are being addressed, with over 70% of apprenticeship programs focusing on financial literacy skills. Programs are providing workers with the tools they need to be prepared when faced with common challenges found in the skilled trades industry.

A total of 337 training fund representatives completed the survey: 294 from the United States and 43 from Canada. Survey respondents commonly serve in multiple roles within their training and education funds and also serve other types of funds. Find the full report at www.ifebp.org/apprenticeship.


The International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans is a member-driven organization with six decades of experience as a leading objective source of employee benefits education and information within the American and Canadian workplace. The Foundation's expertise is industrywide, and it offers resources that include Foundation staff, training, conferences and research on topics critical to assisting its 33,000 multiemployer, corporate and public sector members to respond to trends affecting the well-being of more than 25 million lives in North America. For additional information, visit www.ifebp.org.