The National Governors Association Expands Apprenticeship through State Policy Reform

NGA's Center for Best Practices develops innovative solutions to today’s most pressing public policy challenges and is the only research and development firm that directly serves the nation's governors.
Blog Post
Aug. 15, 2018

As part of our Apprenticeship Forward Collaborative initiative, New America is featuring profiles of each of our partner organizations. We’ll be looking at how our partners’ diverse initiatives contribute to expanding American apprenticeship into new industry and population sectors.

Organization Summary:

The National Governors Association (NGA) is the bipartisan organization of the governors representing the nation's 55 states, territories and commonwealths. Through NGA, governors share best practices, speak with a collective voice on national policy, and develop innovative solutions that improve state government and support the principles of federalism.

The National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) was established in 1974 to assist governors in addressing a broad range of policy challenges. For instance, the NGA Center’s Economic Opportunity Division provides research, policy analysis, technical assistance, and resource development for governors and their staff on policy issues related to economic development and innovation; industry-based strategies for workforce development; pathways to employment for populations with special needs; and human services for children, youth, low-income families, and people with disabilities.

Overview of Apprenticeship Efforts:

There is growing recognition among governors that education, workforce systems, and economic development efforts must be aligned in order to prepare highly-skilled workers to succeed in our constantly evolving economy and to address the needs of employers. The NGA Center’s Economic Opportunity Division leads a number of work-based learning initiatives to build the capacity of states and local workforce development stakeholders to equip youth and adults with the skills needed to secure family-sustaining careers.

In 2015, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) awarded $175 million in American Apprenticeship Initiative (AAI) grants to expand Registered Apprenticeship into a broader range of industries and increase participation by non-traditional populations. Since the launch of the AAI program, the NGA Center’s Economic Opportunity Division has provided technical assistance to all 46 grantees, which includes states, regional partnerships, and localities. The NGA Center’s technical assistance program has supported the start-up and implementation of 945 apprenticeship programs in high-demand fields, including insurance and finance, nursing and pharmacy, behavioral health, and network security administration and software development. Approximately 68 percent of the 9,982 new apprentices in AAI programs are from populations traditionally underrepresented in apprenticeship programs, including women, people of color, veterans, and people with disabilities.

The NGA Center is also assisting states in scaling quality work-based learning programs for youth and young adults in STEM-intensive industries such as advanced manufacturing, healthcare, information technology, and energy through a multi-year Policy Academy. In 2016 and 2017, the NGA Center worked intensively with six states (Indiana, Iowa, Montana, New Hampshire, Utah, and Washington). In late 2017, the NGA Center expanded the project to include an additional 13 states and territories: Alabama, Colorado, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nevada, North Carolina, Rhode Island, South Dakota, and American Samoa. Through this work, the NGA Center has assisted states in launching statewide initiatives to raise awareness of work-based learning and embed these programs into education and training systems; secure funding to support the expansion of work-based learning programs for educators and workers; and share information about work-based learning opportunities with state residents.

Interesting Themes about Apprenticeship:

Governors function as the CEO of a state and play a key role in expanding apprenticeship opportunities across the country. In recent years, governors have recognized apprenticeship and work-based learning more broadly as powerful strategies for meeting the requirements of businesses, keeping up with a rapidly changing economy, and accelerating growth that leads to economic opportunity for workers and families.

Asked how her team aims to move the needle on apprenticeship and work-based learning, Meghan Wills, Program Director for the Economic Opportunity Division, says that “the most important change would be for businesses, educators, students and parents to value career preparation for all young people." All stakeholders should make their voices heard, she says: "It's up to them to demand high-quality work-and-learn programs such as apprenticeship that prepare young people for jobs today and in the future.”

Interested in learning more about NGA's apprenticeship work? Contact Meghan Wills, Program Director of the Economic Opportunity Division, for additional information.