The Registered Apprenticeship Occupations and Standards Center of Excellence

Scaling the US registered apprenticeship system can play a central role in addressing widespread skill gaps and mismatches in the workforce. Because registered apprenticeships are important for the nation’s economic competitiveness, the US Department of Labor (DOL) has made additional investments to expand its adoption and modernize the DOL’s approach to the registered apprenticeship system.

Countries with robust apprenticeship systems, such as Australia, Germany, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom, rely on well-funded, well-documented processes for creating, implementing, and evaluating occupational standards for apprenticeship. These systems build on participation across employers, industry representatives, educational institutions, and the government.

In the US, each registered apprenticeship sponsor creates its occupational standards. Although this approach delivers ample flexibility for employers, it can be time-intensive for individual sponsors, burdensome for the government, and potentially limiting for workers’ mobility.

Through the Registered Apprenticeship Occupations and Standards Center of Excellence, the Urban Institute will build a “gold standard” infrastructure of occupational skills for registered apprenticeship programs, helping accelerate the expansion of such programs throughout the US. The center will work with stakeholder partners and coalitions to document occupations and their on-the-job competencies for apprenticeships across a wide array of industries. Urban researchers will compile data and best practices to create a national compendium of quality-driven occupational standards for registered apprenticeships that addresses employers’ changing needs.