Apprenticeship as a state and local strategy to enhance skills and careers: An interview with Robert Lerman, Urban Institute and American University – Episode #21

Should states and localities expand the use of apprenticeship as a workforce development strategy? Robert Lerman argues yes. He is an Institution Fellow at the Urban Institute, a professor of economics at American University, and one of the nation’s leading experts on apprenticeship. In 2013, he founded the American Institute for Innovative Apprenticeship.

Today, countries such as Switzerland, Germany and increasingly in Australia and England — along with states such as South Carolina — are using apprenticeships to keep their workforces competitive and to train workers for higher-paying, growing fields. Under apprenticeship programs, as Robert Lerman explains, “individuals earn a salary while receiving training primarily through supervised, work‐based learning but also with related academic instruction. Employers, joint, union‐employer agreements, government agencies, and the military all sponsor apprenticeship programs. Apprentices are employees at the firms and organizations where they are training, and combine productive work along with learning experiences that lead to demonstrated proficiency in a significant array of tasks.”

Also of note, Mathematica Policy Research conducted an effectiveness assessment and cost benefit analysis of registered apprenticeship (RA) in ten states. The 2012 study found that RA participants had substantially higher earnings than did nonparticipants and that the benefits of the RA program appear to be much larger than the costs.

Credits: Music at the end of the interview is by Maya Lerman and her band Maya and the Ruins.