Apprenticeships in Michigan: The numbers

By Naheed Huq, SEMCOG

Last month during National Apprenticeship Week, the Michigan Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives (LMISI) released a new report that provides an overview of registered apprenticeships in Michigan and identifies some of the main trends impacting the future skilled trade pipeline in the state. The data will help policy makers evaluate the skilled trade labor supply, understand gaps in the workforce, and address shortages in key industries.

We are very excited to release this report on Registered Apprenticeships in Michigan. For the first time, we were able to confirm key characteristics of Michigan’s apprentices, as well as identify some of the challenges and opportunities that exist for apprenticeship programs in Michigan. This report will provide our state partners with the information they need to develop apprenticeship programs as a crucial source of workforce talent.

 – Scott Powell, Ph.D., Director of Research, LMISI

Macomb Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Apprenticeships are an excellent tool for individuals who learn best from hands-on training while also gathering the necessary academic knowledge. SEMCOG and MAC’s Technical Career Continuum identifies apprenticeships as one of the three paths to career success. There are many efforts to support apprenticeships, including the Michigan Talent Investment Agency which supports the Skilled Trades Training Fund (STTF) which funded over 320 new apprenticeships in Fiscal Year 2016; and the Michigan Apprenticeships, Internships, and Mentoring (MI-AIM) program that provides resources and technical assistance to promote work-based learning programs. 

The Talent Investment Agency is committed to developing Michigan’s workforce through a data-driven approach. The information compiled by LMISI is especially useful as we launch key initiatives to expand apprenticeship opportunities across the state with the support of our federal, state and local partners. The data provides a helpful roadmap to ensure we target the industries most in need as well as populations that deserve a heightened focus.

– Stephanie Beckhorn, Workforce Development Director, Talent Investment Agency

LMISI analyzed eight years of data (2008-2015) from the U. S. Department of Labor (DOL). Data shows that there were more than 900 Registered Apprentice programs in Michigan in 2015 – down from a high of 1,017 in 2011. There has been a continual increase in active apprentices (working towards completion), from 8,726 in 2008 to 11,802 in 2015, but unfortunately the number of completers has gone down over the last three years.

According to the report, a typical Registered Apprentice (RA) is:

  • Male (94%)
  • White (70%)
  • A union member (65%)
  • A high school graduate (71%)

Male RAs outnumber females, but there is a steady increase in women, particularly in two programs – Pharmacy Technician and First-Line Supervisor of Retail Sales. Minority participation has been consistent the entire period of study. Only about 13% of apprentices have post-secondary education when they enter their program, although there is growing recognition that apprenticeships provide a broad education in addition to practical training. 

About 80% of occupations are skilled trades, including electricians (25% of all programs), construction laborers, and carpenters. While the registration numbers are highest in the manufacturing and construction industries, completion rates tend to be highest in less traditional apprentice occupations, such as computer occupations (87%) and network and computer systems administrators.

Macomb 2

There is also a very high completion rate for the utility industry, including power distributors and dispatchers (99%) and electric power line installers and repairers (77%). For electricians, the completion rate is 33%; for tool and die makers, 57%; and for plumbers, pipefitters and steamfitters, it is 54%.

Apprenticeships are a way to earn as you learn, and there are regular increases in wages as individuals grow their skills and competencies. Completers will see a significant increase in their wages. For carpenters, sheet-metal workers, and telecommunications equipment installers and repairers, the increase is 90% or better. The average wage for electricians on completion of an apprenticeship is $24.78 per hour; for structural and steel workers, it is $26.34; and for electrical power line installers and repairers, it is $31.98. Definitely good incomes that help grow Michigan’s middle class.

SEMCOG’s community college members are also at the forefront of developing innovative apprenticeship programs. Look out for a future blog on how Southeast Michigan’s education institutions are successfully working with business, labor organizations, and federal and state government to develop apprenticeships that respond to specific industry needs and help grow our economy.