Registered apprenticeship offers an opportunity for employers to hire, train, and retain a skilled workforce, and workers to earn income while they learn. But the complexities of the American apprenticeship system deter many potential sponsors from creating or registering programs. While many other countries use a centralized system for creating apprenticeship standards, the US allows individual employers or groups of employers to create their own standards to gain approval as a registered program. Because every employer has to start from scratch and use valuable resources to develop an apprenticeship program, this process creates barriers and prevents apprenticeship programs from scaling nationally. To begin addressing this problem, the US Department of Labor selected the Urban Institute to produce National Occupational Frameworks in a variety of growing occupations and sectors, which will become the foundation for a gold-standard occupational standards development system through the Registered Apprenticeship Occupations and Standards Center of Excellence.
This brief describes the current landscape of apprenticeship standards and Urban’s process to meet it. We build strong occupational frameworks by
- identifying high-interest occupations;
- researching and writing initial framework drafts;
- vetting the frameworks with expert reviewers;
- developing classroom curricula to accompany the on-the-job training; and
- publishing and disseminating the frameworks and how we expect them to be used and applied to scale apprenticeship programs nationally.