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The Current State of Diversity and Equity in U.S. Apprenticeship for Young People

Understand representation and equity gaps along gender and race/ethnicity lines among young apprentices in the US.

Updated 12/10/2022
Youth apprentice pushing buttons on a large machine.
What the data tell us about representation, equity gaps, and opportunity along gender and race/ethnicity lines.

Registered Apprenticeship (RA) offers a promising pathway to well-paid work in industries with ample room for professional and salary growth. Unlike apprenticeship systems in other parts of the world, the U.S. RA system isn’t built as a career pathway for young people. In fact, the average age of new apprentices in the United States is 29. While there has been a push on multiple fronts over the past five years to increase the number of high-quality apprenticeships for high school age youth, those efforts haven’t yet made a dent in disparities of outcomes for this group. Efforts to increase the number of younger apprentices in high-quality RA programs are especially important for Black and Indigenous youth and other young people of color, who have been disproportionately affected economically by the pandemic. 

Against this backdrop, Jobs for the Future (JFF) recently analyzed a decade of federal RA data from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Registered Apprenticeship Partners Information Database System (RAPIDS) to glean insights about the system’s youngest apprentices—ages 16 to 24. The data was disaggregated by race/ethnicity and gender to better understand the challenges and opportunities among these groups: Specifically, how diverse is the population of young apprentices? Are they clustered in certain occupations? How do their exit wages compare to those of their peers? 

To better understand the current inequities of access and outcomes among young apprentices, the most popular occupations for both male and female young apprentices, average exit wages, and more, dive into the full set of findings.

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