A new study on Illinois apprenticeship programs shows that apprenticeships are the bachelor’s degrees of the construction industry. Joint labor-management programs, in particular, provide a more effective and inclusive offering than unilateral (open shop) programs in key areas such as training hours, graduation rates, and competitive earnings that rival the performance of Illinois’ four-year universities.
The study, titled The Apprenticeship Alternative Enrollment, Completion Rates, and Earnings in Registered Apprenticeship Programs in Illinois, provides 5 key takeaways from analyzing 17 years of apprenticeship data in Illinois:
1) Joint labor-management programs enrolled 97% of all construction apprentices in Illinois.
2) Joint construction programs require 27% more hours of training (7,306 hours) than the minimum requirements to earn a bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois (5,760 hours).
3) Joint construction programs have a completion rate of 54%, on par with Illinois’ public universities (61%), higher than for-profit institutions (43%), and significantly higher than employer-only programs (31%). The ABC completion rate in Illinois is a dismal 16%.
4) The racial diversity of graduates from joint construction programs is similar to Illinois’ public universities, and joint construction programs are both more diverse and have higher completion rates among people of color, women, and veterans than employer-only programs.
5) Despite a higher likelihood of suffering an unemployment spell, a union journeyworker earns about as much over a career ($2.4 million) as a worker with a bachelor’s degree ($2.5 million after student debt).