Next Generation of Skilled Workers Include More Women and Minorities

Survey Finds Retention and Recruitment in Apprentice Programs Unaffected by Economy

Brookfield, Wisconsin— Nearly 25 percent of apprenticeship fund representatives saw an increase in the number of female apprentices over the last two years, while more than one in five also saw an increase in the number of minority apprentices over the same time, according to International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans report, Top Trends in Jointly Managed Apprenticeship Programs.

“Despite recent challenges to the trade industries, it’s encouraging to see that inroads are being made in recruiting and retaining both women and minorities in these programs,” said Foundation CEO Michael Wilson.  “Apprentice programs are important to long term economics of the trades and serve as the lifeblood of the industry as they develop the next generation of skilled workers in plumbing, construction and masonry.”

Earlier this year the International Foundation surveyed over 300 apprenticeship fund representatives regarding recruitment and retention challenges and the hiring outlook of their industries. Respondents represented training funds in a number of industries across the United States and Canada including plumbers, electrical workers, operating engineers, and iron and steel workers.

According to the report, the greatest challenges for apprentices and journeypersons are unemployment due to:

  • Economy - 86 percent
  • Decreased job security - 82 percent
  • Difficulty finding initial employment after they complete the program - 79 percent

However, these challenges have had little impact on recruitment and retention over the past two years. More than 70 percent of respondents they have not experienced a change in recruiting difficulty or have found it less difficult to recruit. In fact more, than 60 percent said there is no change in keeping apprentices or it has become less difficult to keep them in the program.

The U.S. Department of Labor sponsors a continually expanding number of apprenticeships training and education programs. Currently, there are about 24,000 registered programs in the United States. In 2011 alone, 1,400 new programs were established. According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Apprenticeship, nearly 54,000 apprentices graduated in 2011. Despite recent fluctuations, there has also been a steady rise in the number of apprentices and programs in Canada.

More information is available at


The International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans is a member-driven organization with five decades of experience as a leading objective source of employee benefits, compensation and financial literacy education and information within the Canadian and American workplace. The Foundation’s expertise is industry wide; and it offers resources that include Foundation staff, training, conferences and research on topics critical to assisting its 35,000 multi-employer, corporate and public sector members respond to trends affecting the well-being of more than 25 million lives in North America. For additional information, visit

*Note— A complimentary copy of the report is available to credentialed media upon request.