Job Training & Apprenticeships

Most policy makers agree that workforce training is essential to America’s competitiveness. Job training is especially important for workers without a college education, for whom it is often the key to a better job or any job at all.

Apprenticeship and other models that integrate classroom and workplace learning are more effective than years of classroom education followed by work without structured support for learning. But apprenticeships remain infrequently used in the United States—a reality that hasn’t changed despite three decades of policymakers’ professed affection for the model.


Clearing the Jobs Pathway: Removing Non-Academic Barriers to Adult Student Completion

In order to reach the state’s workforce and economic goals, Indiana needs leadership to better align resources for adult students and to remove barriers that stand between them and post-secondary education and training programs. The state has made progress in tailoring academic and training programs to workforce demands and made steps toward incentivizing those programs with financial aid. And yet, too many of the would-be students who need these programs most never take the first step because their path is blocked by non-academic barriers. Many more start but stop or drop out permanently before completing degrees and credentials that would benefit their families and Indiana’s economy.


Moving Apprenticeship into Manufacturing’s Future: Industrial Manufacturing Technician

  • February 21, 2017
  • COWS
  • Rhandi Berth, Laura Dresser, and Emanuel Ubert.

Manufacturing in the Midwest continues to evolve. Firms increasingly rely on highly specialized and flexible processes, deploying new technology that redefines workers’ jobs and the skills needed for them. In Milwaukee, the Wisconsin Regional Training Partnership (WRTP)/BIG STEP has spearheaded the creation of a new registered apprenticeship in response to these dynamic forces. Industrial Manufacturing Technicians (IMT)are now working and being trained at firms across the upper Midwest. The success of this apprenticeship derives directly from the WRTP/BIG STEP’s long-standing and deep relationships with manufacturing firms and labor unions built over the course of two decades. The success also owes to the long tradition of apprenticeship in Wisconsin and the ways this project has built from the existing model. This paper offers the story of this apprenticeship innovation which is remaking apprenticeship for the new and rapidly evolving manufacturing sector.


Job Quality in WIOA: Three Ways to Steer Investments towards High Road Jobs

  • November 30, 2016
  • COWS
  • Laura Dresser, Hannah Halbert, and Stephen Herzenberg.

Implementation of the Workforce Investment and Opportunity Act (WIOA) is well underway. This process creates unprecedented opportunity to adopt policies and practices that boost job quality. Connecting workers with the best quality job possible serves job seekers better. More stable work means higher income, longer job tenure, and better predictability for managing the tensions between work and life. But beyond that, WIOA policies for job quality help protect public investments in training by ensuring that those investments are not simply lost in a revolving door of turnover. Policies that focus on better quality jobs help make WIOA resources a reward for employers who are already treating their workers with greater care, rather than subsidizing low-road competitors who may waste the investment. A new report produced by COWS, the Keystone Research Center in Pennsylvania, and Policy Matters Ohio, identifies three WIOA quality standards that can target public training investment where it will have stronger returns.