For Immediate Release
January 16, 2018

Brenda Hofmann | (262) 373-7756

New Report Provides a Look at Apprenticeship Programs Across the United States and Canada

Brookfield, Wisconsin—A new report, Top Trends in Apprenticeship Programs: 2018 Survey Results, provides an up-to-date analysis of apprenticeship programs, including the unique challenges they face and their expanding recruitment and retention initiatives.

Conducted by the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans, the report finds that apprenticeship programs across the United States and Canada anticipate a variety of challenges during the next two years. At the program level, replacing the number of retiring tradespeople is the top concern, cited by 84% of respondents. Additionally, apprenticeship programs report they struggle with communicating the value of a trade to prospective apprentices and external stakeholders, as well as with the level of government oversight.

At the individual apprentice level, 60% report the most prevalent challenge facing apprentices is unemployment due to the cyclical or seasonal nature of some skilled trades work. At an almost equal level of concern is prescription drug and opioid abuse, which 58% of training fund representatives said is either a very or somewhat prevalent problem among their apprentices.

To help in their recruitment efforts, the majority of training programs have in place initiatives to recruit diverse populations including women (81%), minorities (75%), military members or veterans (73%), Aboriginal/Native American individuals (42%) and immigrants (30%). Because of these efforts and general economic conditions, more than seven in ten (72%) programs anticipate a positive hiring outlook in their industry in the next two years.

Retention concerns continue to exist within apprenticeship programs—If apprentices are not retained through their training and ascension into journeyworker status, funds do not realize a return on investment for training. Common retention challenges include offers of more steady work in other industry sectors, cited by nearly seven in ten (69%) of respondents, followed by "poaching," cited by 64%, which is when organizations "bid" away apprentices from the organization in which they completed their education.

For more information and to read the full survey report, visit Survey responses were received from 284 training funds in a number of industries across the U.S. and Canada, including electric workers, iron- and steelworkers, plumbers, pipefitters and carpenters.


The International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans is the premier educational organization dedicated to providing the diverse employee benefits community with objective, solution-oriented education, research and information to ensure the health and financial security of plan beneficiaries worldwide. The Foundation has more than 33,000 multiemployer, corporate and public sector members representing over 25 million lives. For additional information, visit