The Urban Institute Announces New $7 Million Funding Award to Establish a Registered Apprenticeship Technical Assistance Center of Excellence

Project to Establish Occupational Standards Center to Help Scale High Quality Apprenticeship Programs Nationwide

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July 19, 2021—Today the Urban Institute announced a new award from the Employment and Training Administration (ETA) at the US Department of Labor (DOL) designed to establish a Registered Apprenticeship Technical Assistance Center of Excellence (RA-TA Center of Excellence) at Urban.

With the cooperative grant of $7 million over four years, an Urban team of technical experts and partners at the RA-TA Center of Excellence will build a “gold standard” infrastructure of occupational standards for registered apprenticeship programs, helping to accelerate the expansion of such programs throughout the US.

“Evidence shows that apprenticeship programs yield a multitude of benefits for employers and workers,” said Urban Institute president Sarah Rosen Wartell. “These programs improve retention and engagement; provide pathways to high-quality, well-paid, and rewarding careers; and help the future workforce meet employer demand. Our team of Urban Institute researchers is excited to continue its work in this important area and to expand and elevate an infrastructure of occupational standards for apprenticeships.”

The RA-TA Center of Excellence at Urban 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 and will ultimately create a nationwide compendium of occupational standards for registered apprenticeships that address employers’ changing needs with diversity and inclusion as core elements.

Co-led by Diana Elliott, a principal research associate, and Zach Boren, a senior policy program manager, the Urban team will conduct research on current industry needs, attain feedback and quality input from industry and stakeholders, outline continuous quality improvement measures to maintain these occupational frameworks over time, and create education and training materials to support employers in fast-tracking the development of apprenticeship programs.

“Urban’s research has shown how apprenticeships create pathways to opportunity and increase equity in our country,” said Elliott. “Urban’s Registered Apprenticeship Technical Assistance Center for Occupations and Standards will increase transparency, portability, quality, ease of use, and scalability of registered apprenticeship programs in the US – helping to ensure an inclusive pathway to the middle class for workers across the country.”

“This gold standard apprenticeship infrastructure will help employers and industries quickly and successfully build and scale up high-quality registered apprenticeship programs,” said Bhavani Arabandi, senior research associate at Urban and a co-project manager along with John Marotta, a policy associate. “It will also provide the future workforce with opportunities to thrive in growing careers while boosting the economy.”

About the Urban Institute

The nonprofit Urban Institute is a leading research organization dedicated to developing evidence-based insights that improve people’s lives and strengthen communities. For 50 years, Urban has been the trusted source for rigorous analysis of complex social and economic issues; strategic advice to policymakers, philanthropists, and practitioners; and new, promising ideas that expand opportunities for all. Our work inspires effective decisions that advance fairness and enhance the well-being of people and places.