Report: Apprenticeship Programs Need to Better Support Black Students
Monday, April 3, 2023
Paid apprenticeship programs are supposed to connect workers with well-paying jobs, but they fall short on diversity, especially for Black students, according to a new report.
Researchers from a Washington think tank called the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies found Black Americans comprise more than 12% of the workforce, but only 9% of registered apprenticeship programs.
Justin Nalley, senior policy analyst at the center, said millions have benefited since the National Apprenticeship Act was passed in 1937.
"Students and workers can get into an apprenticeship and not have to take on mounds of debt," Nalley explained. "[They're] able to provide for their families while learning a new skill."
The most common programs train workers in electrical services, plumbing, health care occupations and construction. The report found while 40% of all Black apprentices are in the construction trades, Black workers face rampant job discrimination. Statistics show just 5% of construction supervisors are Black, while 90% are white.
Racial disparities also persist in completion rates. The data show in 2021, 41% of Black registered apprentices completed the program, compared with 47% of Hispanic workers, 48% of white and Native American workers, and 49% of Asian and Pacific Islander apprentices.
Nalley argued programs need to provide wraparound services to make them more affordable.
"Can we make it to the apprenticeship program... transportation? Do we have somebody to be able to watch [our] kids... child care? Are we able to provide lunch for that day... food services? Are we able to afford the equipment and materials that it takes?" Nalley outlined.
The authors want Congress to fund more state- and local-level apprenticeship programs targeting Black students. They also suggested more scheduling flexibility for parents and commuters and help to buy tools, equipment, books, supplies and uniforms.
Support for this reporting was provided by Lumina Foundation.
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