Two-Thirds of Skilled Labor Training Programs Anticipate a Positive Hiring Outlook for Trade Industries

February 4, 2014

Stacy Van Alstyne
(262) 373-7746

Survey Reveals Programs Continue to See Increase in Women, Minority and Immigrant Apprentices

Brookfield, WI —
A new report by the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans (IFEBP) revealed that nearly two-thirds of training fund representatives view hiring opportunities for skilled laborers as somewhat or extremely positive for the next two years as a result of increased demand and talent shortages. Job training programs have also continued to increase apprenticeship opportunities for minority groups, including women and immigrants, to meet the growing need – an initiative highlighted by President Barack Obama during his State of the Union Address on January 28.

The report, Top Trends in Jointly Managed Apprenticeship Programs: 2014 Survey Results, found that more than half of respondents are anticipating an increase in the number of minority apprentices in the next two years. More than two in five anticipate an increase in women and immigrant apprentices. Despite an optimistic hiring outlook, however, seven in ten respondents anticipate a dearth of candidates for training programs over the next two years.

“The results from our survey are very encouraging for skilled laborers in search of employment,” said Julie Stich, Research Director with the International Foundation. “Moving forward, trade positions – carpenters, plumbers, electrical workers, heavy equipment operators and others – will be in high demand as employers look for people with the right training and skills, including women and immigrants. Apprenticeship programs combine on-the-job training with extensive technical instruction to create highly-skilled workers who serve a critical role in our economy.”

The report revealed nearly two-thirds of apprenticeship programs have made efforts to increase opportunities for additional education and training in the past two years. One in five funds offers financial incentives for apprentices to help them buy equipment, tools and protective clothing when they start their training.

A total of 153 apprenticeship training fund representatives from the United States and Canada completed Top Trends in Jointly Managed Apprenticeship Programs to provide a thorough look at skilled trade industries. Other key findings from surveyed programs include:

  • More than two-thirds have allocated training resources to green initiatives training.
  • More than one-half partner with community or faith-based organizations. Of those that partner, more than three-quarters describe their partnerships as effective.
  • Two in five provide formal training to improve the financial literacy of apprentices. The most common elements covered in these programs include savings, spending, credit cards and loans.

Despite positive outlooks in hiring and increased educational opportunities for apprentices, the report also revealed that training fund representatives expect apprentices to face several challenges over the next two years. These challenges include unemployment due to the cyclical and seasonal nature of work or due to economic conditions, and decreased job security.

Training programs also face challenges in recruiting new apprentices and keeping them in the program until completion. The lack of available hours is the top challenge to apprentice retention, as more than one-third of all program representatives said they anticipate it to be a significant issue in the next two years. In addition, seven in ten respondents anticipate a shortage of skilled candidates for apprenticeship training to be a challenge for programs.

“Having high demand for well-paying jobs is great for the individual and the economy. This is a excellent opportunity to consider skilled trades as a viable and important career path,” said Stich. “And with a new level of attention brought to the development of apprenticeships by President Obama, training programs could reap new benefits and begin to see an increase in applications from Americans ready to start a career.”

In September and October 2013, the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans surveyed 153 training funds in a number of trade industries across the United States and Canada. Of the 153 representatives that responded to the survey, 145 represent training and education funds in the United States. A wide variety of industries are represented in the report, including carpenters, millwrights and pile drivers, plumbers and pipefitters and electrical workers. The study examined the current status of jointly managed apprenticeship programs, challenges, prospects for program growth in current economic conditions, and recruitment and retention efforts during the next two years. The survey also examines the changes in nontraditional population enrollment and whether apprenticeship programs are continuing to dedicate resources to green initiatives. To download a copy of Top Trends in Jointly Managed Apprenticeship Programs: 2014 Survey Results, please visit


About the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans

The International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans is a nonprofit organization, dedicated to being a leading objective and independent global source of employee benefits and compensation education and information. Total membership includes 33,000 individuals representing multiemployer trust funds, corporations, public employer groups and professional advisory firms throughout the United States and Canada. Each year, the International Foundation offers over 100 educational programs, including conferences and e-learning courses. Membership provides access to personalized research services and daily news delivery. The International Foundation sponsors the Certified Employee Benefit Specialist® (CEBS®) program in conjunction with the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and Dalhousie University in Canada.