New Survey Shows that Apprenticeships are Impactful and Growing in North Carolina

<p>A recent survey of nearly 300 apprenticeship programs across North Carolina found that investments in apprenticeships produce a strong financial return to companies. This post, the first of two, explores some of the survey&#39;s key findings, including the survey&#39;s analysis of businesses&#39; financial return on apprenticeship investments.</p>

Author: Steven Pennington

Investments in Apprenticeships produce a strong financial return to companies. This was one of the main findings from the North Carolina Community College System’s recent North Carolina Registered Apprenticeship Survey Report. The report, conducted by the NC Department of Commerce’s Labor and Economic Analysis Division, surveyed representatives of nearly 300 apprenticeship programs across the state and collected a variety of information on the impacts of apprenticeships on North Carolina businesses.

Apprenticeships are becoming an increasingly important part of the workforce development system in North Carolina. ApprenticeshipNC, the North Carolina Community College System’s apprenticeship program, served 15,657 individuals in fiscal year (FY) 2020, the most in the past 10 years. Since FY 2016, the number of people served has more than doubled and grew 37% over the past year alone. The program is expanding because businesses are concerned about access to a skilled workforce and are turning to nationally recognized Registered Apprenticeship programs to address their workforce needs.

The survey asked a series of questions about the financial costs and benefits associated with apprentices in order to calculate the return-on-investment (ROI) for each employer’s apprenticeship program. According to our survey respondents, the average ROI among their apprenticeship programs created an additional $1.70 of value for every $1.00 of investment in apprentices. The median program created an additional $0.74 of value for every $1.00 of investment. Among our survey respondents, 86% achieve a positive ROI by the conclusion of an average apprenticeship. And that number is up to 94% after two years of regular post-apprenticeship employment.

To further gauge the value of apprenticeship programs, respondents were also asked questions about journeyworkers (employees who have completed apprenticeship programs). When asked about the value created by the average journeyworker in their company, 63% of respondents said that journeyworkers create more value than comparable off-the-street hires, while about 7% said that journeyworkers and off-the-street hires do not fill similar roles within their companies.

In our next post, we’ll explore some of the mechanisms through which apprenticeship programs provide these returns to businesses and some of the differences we see between programs in various industry sectors.

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