State lawmakers are turning more toward apprenticeships as a strategy to tackle the skills gap, according to an annual report on states’ career and technical education policies.
In 2019, at least 35 policies related to apprenticeships were enacted across 22 states, says the report by CTE Advance, the Association for Career and Technical Education, and the Education Commission of the States. Many of the policies aim to expand access to apprenticeships and make more learners aware of such programs. In 2018, 22 policies related to apprenticeships were enacted across 15 states. In 2017, 20 states passed 25 such policies.
The report spotlights new secondary and postsecondary CTE policies among states. For example:
- Alabama established an apprenticeship office in its state commerce department to oversee apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs and to create a competency-based apprenticeship framework based on in-demand fields in the state and region.
- Arkansas extended eligibility for apprenticeships to high school students to connect their apprenticeship experiences with one or two years of postsecondary learning.
- Colorado launched a statewide resource directory for apprenticeships. It also required the state community college system to convene a working group to determine the best way to transfer construction-industry registered apprenticeship program credit to college credit.
- Texas created an industry-recognized apprenticeship grant program.
- In Virginia, the state community college system will work with the state labor department on registered apprenticeships for high-demand occupations.
States’ top CTE policy issues
Funding, industry partnerships/work-based learning and industry-recognized credentials comprised the top three policy categories in 2019, according to the report. More than 40 states addressed CTE funding issues, such as allocations, creating a scholarship or grant program, and investing in a pilot program.
Thirty-five states addressed industry-partnerships/work-based learning. For example, Illinois required its state community college board to establish a manufacturing training grant program. To qualify for the grant, a community college district and public high school must create a collaborative regional partnership with businesses, workforce and economic development groups, and others.
At least 28 states approved policies regarding industry-recognized credentials, which included micro-credentials and educational degrees. For example, Kansas established the Accelerating Opportunity: Kansas program, which allows adults over age 21 to earn a high-school-equivalent credential and an industry credential through a career pathway.
At least 20 states enacted policies regarding dual/concurrent enrollment, the same number as in 2018. Indiana, for example, directed the state higher education commission to establish a dual-credit advisory council, which would work to ensure that teachers who instruct high school dual-enrollment courses fulfill accreditation requirements.