May 2, 2022

Apprenticeship Programs: Building a Brighter Future for the Industry

The term “pandemic weary” has been used to describe a population fatigued by anxiety and changes brought on by COVID-19. One could reasonably call construction business owners “skilled labor shortage weary” given that this pernicious problem has plagued the industry for years.

As one might expect, the pandemic has worsened matters. It not only shut down jobsites early on, but eventually created the conditions that caused “the Great Resignation” — the trend of an unusually large number of workers voluntarily leaving their jobs. And the virus will continue to have the power to compromise jobsite safety, which has always been a high area of risk for construction companies.

But hope is far from lost. Construction remains a vibrant and essential industry with much to offer those who wish to build the skill set necessary to grow a successful and potentially lucrative career. As has been the case for a long time, contractors can help their own cause by establishing, promoting and carefully conducting apprenticeship programs to draw strong candidates to the industry.

Why to consider it

There are, in fact, various ways that construction companies can benefit from a well-planned apprenticeship program. For starters, apprentices receive customized training that results in highly skilled employees whose skills are tailored to your needs and project types. On-the-job learning from an assigned mentor, combined with related technical instruction, increases productivity and knowledge transfer.

What’s more, employees who have undergone apprenticeships are highly likely to remain loyal to the company, lessening hiring costs. A participating company can gain a reputation as an employer that’s willing to invest in its employees. Meanwhile, a focus on safety training can reduce workers’ compensation costs.
Certified apprenticeship programs offer a systematic approach to training that ensures employees can produce at the highest skill levels required for the jobs they fill. In doing so, the program provides a stable and predictable pipeline for the development of qualified workers.

As for the participants, chances are they won’t want to sign up for an apprenticeship program unless they can see substantial benefits in the near-enough future. A well-developed program offers participants the opportunity to qualify for well-paying jobs, and provides the training needed to set a path toward even higher salaries or wages in years to come.

The registered approach

One way to differentiate your apprenticeship program from others is to register with the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). Doing so will place it within a network of registered apprenticeships that offers access to additional expertise and support.

Your graduates will receive a national, industry-recognized credential, while your construction business may qualify for tax breaks at the state and/or federal level. You can learn more about registering your apprenticeship program with the DOL at

To get off to a good start, the DOL recommends addressing key questions such as: Do we already have employees who could participate in an apprenticeship program? How will our business change in the future and which skill sets will we most likely lack? Ideally, your program will focus on the specific types of skilled workers who will be in shortest supply.

The agency also recommends looking for various partners with whom you might collaborate. Partner organizations can help you design a program, provide some of the educational resources and assist in finding the apprentices themselves.

These may include other construction businesses or related companies (such as an engineering or design firm), industry or professional associations, and labor organizations. It’s also critical to make your presence known with educational institutions (for example, community colleges) and public agencies (such as police and fire departments).

Organic growth

Apprenticeship programs aren’t the only solution to the skilled labor shortage, and that’s okay. Launching one will consume time and resources, and you’ll have to exercise great patience while waiting to see the fruits of your labor. However, apprenticeships do represent a purely organic way for the construction industry to grow its own workforce. Your CPA can help you evaluate the costs and potential benefits.

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