The Urban Institute Announces New Funding Awards to Advance Youth and Technology Apprenticeships

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July 29, 2019—Today the Urban Institute announced two new contract awards from the US Department of Labor (DOL) designed to advance and expand apprenticeships for youth and for workers in the technology industry.

Advancing Youth Apprenticeships

The US Department of Labor Office of Apprenticeship has awarded Urban a contract of up to $10.5 million over five years, focused on increasing the quality and quantity of youth apprenticeships in high-growth industries. The funding will help Urban work in partnership with schools and employers to create youth apprenticeship programs in at least 10 sites across the country.

Links between high school and careers are often too weak for youth to transition successfully from one to the other. These deficiencies have contributed to a widening earnings gap between college and high school graduates. Evidence shows that youth apprenticeship programs strengthen student engagement and match skill development with employer demand. By scaling up the quality and quantity of youth apprenticeships, more young people will have opportunities to thrive in growing careers.

The Urban project team, led by Institute fellow and leading US apprenticeship expert Robert Lerman, will conduct outreach and recruitment with educators and employers, provide training and technical assistance to sites, promote innovation and excellence in programs, facilitate knowledge sharing, and build public awareness of apprenticeships.

Urban will conduct the work in partnership with NAF, a national organization supporting more than 600 career academies, each with strong employer participation. The team will work with schools and employers that demonstrate strong stakeholder support, high skill demands, and high capacity to offer apprenticeships and related instruction. The resulting programs will enable hundreds of young people to acquire the academic, technical, and social competencies to enter rewarding careers and achieve a base of skills to take advantage of lifelong learning opportunities.

Expanding Technology Apprenticeships

The second contract award, also from the DOL Office of Apprenticeship, provides funding of up to $12.6 million over three years to increase apprenticeships in the technology industry. The award funds Urban and partners to work directly with employers to create at least 1,800 apprenticeships in tech occupations. The goal is to shift the paradigm in ways that make apprenticeship a standard workforce development practice across the industry. Nearly 75 percent of the funds will go to offset the employer costs of undertaking apprenticeships.

Tech occupations span several sectors—from advanced manufacturing to health care to IT to finance—and are often the jobs that are most in demand in these sectors. Growth in IT positions will be rapid over the next decade; for example, the need for information security analysts is expected to increase by 28 percent from 2016 to 2026. But even today, the demand by employers exceeds supply, leaving many jobs vacant. Expanding tech apprenticeships can help fill the demand while raising wages for hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of workers.

The project team, led by Lerman and senior researcher Diana Elliott will help facilitate innovations designed to appeal to employers of tech occupations, including digital platforms for skills assessment and standards development, as well as a “pay-for-performance” model that encourages employers to create and sustain apprenticeships.

 “We know from our extensive research that apprenticeships improve the match between workers’ skills and labor market demands and widen access to rewarding careers,” said Lerman. “Together, these awards will expand apprenticeship opportunities for youth and for those in the tech sector and ensure that they’re receiving high-quality training that equips them with the skills that modern employers need.”

“As tech positions continue to grow rapidly, apprenticeship should become a standard workforce development practice to growing talent within organizations. With this award, we are excited to partner with employers on innovations that will meet their needs and will expand access to tech occupations,” said Elliott.

As both projects unfold, the Urban team will share lessons learned and offer evidence-based approaches to expand youth apprenticeships and bring apprenticeships to scale in tech fields.

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.