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4 Benefits to Apprenticeships Beyond Simply Stemming Your Labor Shortage


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You need skilled workers, and today’s graduating students and job searchers need a paycheck. It seems like an apprenticeship is a perfect match for these two seekers.

If you haven’t gone through the work of building an apprenticeship program or partnership for your company, you might not know about four additional benefits that contractors stand to gain from hiring from an apprentice-trained pool. Recognizing these underlying perks can help you to craft an apprenticeship program today that will reap benefits tomorrow.

1. Apprentices Make for Loyal Team Members

Data from the Department of Labor indicates that 91 percent of apprentices that complete their apprenticeship are still employed with the company nine months later. And that’s just the beginning. Apprentices tend to demonstrate company loyalty. One reason is that apprentices can see a clear pathway toward promotion. The on-the-job training they complete marks a clear first step on an established company ladder. A 2012 Deloitte survey indicated that employees look for new employment primarily as a result of stalled career progress, so this clear pathway can be a strong tool for keeping highly-trained employees onboard.

Moreover, apprenticeships are an opportunity for employers to determine how well a potential future employee works within the company culture. When your employees fit the company culture, and share similar values, they’re likely to stick around.

And as the Department of Education puts it, apprentices learn passion for the trades and for the company that gives them their opportunity to shine. By training workers in a craft, and giving them demonstrable skills that can transform their life, you’re giving employees a gift they won’t soon forget.

2. Apprentices May Be More Productive

In addition to reduced turnover, strong company loyalty can prompt workers to be more productive than workers hired from other sources.

A 2016 Department of Commerce report showed apprentices were more likely to finish their work on time and were slightly more productive than workers hired off the street. One company studied in the report found that its apprentices were so productive that it pulled all of its current employees to go through the same training program.

“Firms often have a specific way of doing things. The long and intense training period of an apprenticeship helps workers absorb these methods intuitively,” the report states.

In the UK, where apprenticeships are far more common than in the United States, the Centre for Economic Research estimated that apprentices can boost a company’s productivity by an average of £214 ($278 USD) per week.

When you go the extra mile for workers by providing them on-the-job training, it seems that they want to return the favor by creating a better workplace.

3. Apprenticeships Can Save You Money

All this productivity and team engagement can translate to further savings to your bottom line.

Data from Canada’s Apprenticeship Forum indicates that for every $1 spent on apprenticeship training, an employer receives an average benefit of $1.47 or a net return of $0.47. A guide from North America’s Building Trades Unions is specific about where that return on investment is coming from: improved safety, elimination of rework, and increased productivity of the worker.

On top of that, Ken Simonson, chief economist for The Associated General Contractors of America, notes that the construction industry’s ongoing labor shortage is costing companies average hourly earnings around $28.55, an increase of 2.2 percent from a year earlier. Construction pays nearly 9 percent more per hour than the average nonfarm private sector job in the United States, which pays $26.22 on average per hour.

“Construction firms continued adding new jobs at a faster rate than the broader economy during the past year,” explains Simonson. “Even so, they had to keep employees on the job for more hours because they could not find enough qualified people to hire.”

Having a pipeline for training skilled workers can help reduce demands for overtime, and the steep payment that goes with it.

4. Apprenticeships Can Boost Your Workplace Diversity

Apprenticeship programs can also help you to recruit a more diverse workforce. Diversity drives innovation, and having different viewpoints among employees can lead to new ways of solving workplace challenges.

The construction industry has a way to go here; 2015 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows the industry’s workforce is 28.5 percent Hispanic/Latino, 9.3 percent female, 6 percent black, and 1.8 percent Asian. Many companies are finding success in recruiting more diverse viewpoints through apprenticeships where groups with similar backgrounds can begin their training before going into an industry where they lack representation.

Among other programs, the Tuolumne Collaborative, which had been formed specifically to address barriers to employment, recently led an intensive construction training program for an all-female group of 12 trainees. The collaborative was undertaken with support from a number of California agencies and local construction companies, including Sierra Mountain Construction, which hired two of the trainees at the program’s end.

Calling for More Apprenticeships

Apprenticeships are growing, thanks in part to action in recent years from the White House, but this growth remains fairly slow. It will take greater exposure to these programs to gain new applicants to apprenticeships. But construction companies should be heralding these programs as a way to not only boost their ranks with skilled labor, but to transform their company into a streamlined, efficient industry leader. 

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