Registered apprenticeship is a path that construction companies can take to boost their skilled workers, while helping to solve today’s workforce challenges. It’s a solution for recruiting, training and retaining skilled construction workers. According to, in 2021 there were more than 197,421 registered apprentices in construction, increasing by more than 72% in the prior eight years. But those in the construction industry shared more people need to be involved in the apprenticeship programs.  


Apprenticeships were one of the topics explored at AGC’s 2022 National Construction Industry Workforce Summit which brought together key stakeholders for learning and brainstorming Participants noted the key to boosting students’ participation in apprentice programs includes: 

  • Introducing them to the concept 
  • Providing opportunities for them to explore programs 
  • Enrolling younger people in pre-apprenticeship programs 

Apprenticeship offers all construction workers, but especially the younger generations, a career roadmap and development plan. Growth and development opportunities are essential for attracting and retaining young workers. A recent survey by Amazon and Workplace Intelligence found 74% of Gen Z-ers and Millennials are contemplating a career change in the next 12 months due to a lack of career mobility and skills development options. 

Registered apprenticeships are available for a range of specialties: 

  • Bricklayers 
  • Carpenters 
  • Electricians 
  • Plumbers 
  • Operating Engineers and Equipment Operators 
  • Cement Masons 
  • Painters 
  • Sheet Metal Workers 
  • Roofers 
  • Insulators 
  • Ironworkers 
  • Boilermakers 
  • Elevator Constructors 

Offering these programs engages students in applied learning. But summit participants noted it can be difficult to find instructors for these programs, which is why industry support is so important. 


How to Support Registered Apprenticeship Programs 

Summit participants shared new ideas on how to support registered apprenticeship programs in the construction industry.  

Employ Construction Instructors 

Just like is the case for many schools, apprenticeship programs are having a find time finding qualified instructors to hire. Firms can help by employing apprenticeship instructors to do some project work in addition to instruction. This will likely lead to better pay for the instructors and ensure that apprenticeship programs have sufficient capacity to produce needed workers.  

Create Retirement Pipeline Through Instruction  

Due to the physical demands of the construction trades, some skilled craft workers may retire at an earlier age but are still interested in working. Recruiting these exiting workers to train the next generation of skilled workers for their trade is a way to identify instructors while providing a less physically demanding work option.  

Partner with community or technical colleges  

Community and technical colleges already have the infrastructure and capability to serve as registered apprenticeship programs. Firms and AGC chapters should consider partnering with these institutions to create registered apprenticeship training programs that could provide the workers needed for the growing number of projects with registered apprenticeship participation rates. 

Create industry pre-apprenticeship programs  

Firms and AGC chapters should consider establishing a broad focused construction pre-apprenticeship program. This program provides an exploration of construction and allows participants to determine what career path to follow after completing the program.  


Learn What Others Have Done 

One of the goals of the 2022 National Construction Industry Workforce Summit is to learn new tactics by sharing experiences. Here are a few examples.  

  • Mortenson & Turner are working with Meta to build data centers and, at Meta’s insistence, are using the Hardhats in Hand pre-apprenticeship program. New employees work for the general contractor for a four-week period. After completing that program, employees enter a registered apprenticeship in partnership with subcontractors to continue training and working on the job site. The intention is to build their career through training. Meta is investing in this to help build the pipeline because they have seen the impacts of labor shortages on their projects and appreciate that it is in their interest to help resolve it. 
  • Some firms have been able to tap into Workforce Innovation and Opportunities Act (WIOA) federal funds to support enrolling underrepresented populations in apprenticeship programs. It is important to note that WIOA funds are very outcome-based. As a result, there are a lot of rigors in tracking the success of these apprentices and reporting that back to the funding agency.  
  • In heavily union Alaska, one local school district has an agreement with union partners to lead an Introduction to the Trades program. The school district recruits the kids, and the unions teach the class. Once the students complete the program, they are eligible to directly enter a union apprenticeship training program. The retention rate within the apprenticeship of those students is above 90%. 

Download the full 2022 National Construction Industry Workforce Summit report to learn how AGC and its partners in the construction industry are working to strengthen the construction workforce pipeline. 

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