Apprenticeships are back. As businesses and industries demand better trained employees, state lawmakers are responding by integrating apprenticeships into more comprehensive state education programs. The "learn-while-you-earn" model has gained traction across the country as a crucial tool to help states meet their workforce needs and educational goals.
The growing recognition that traditional, four-year degrees are not necessarily right for all students has helped fuel growth in apprenticeship programs. Since 2016, 30 states have passed 60 new laws relating to apprenticeships. Nearly half of them were passed in 2018.
The bills commonly create new training programs or establish new requirements for existing ones. Lawmakers have found a variety of ways to fund and develop programs at all levels. Several states have increased grant funding to support apprenticeships at state community and technical colleges. Others offer tax credits to businesses that welcome trainees.
In April last year, lawmakers in Iowa unanimously passed the Future Ready Iowa Act, which created a registered apprenticeship program and provided some scholarship funding.
A 2017 Kentucky law allows students in apprenticeship programs to receive funds from the existing Kentucky Educational Excellence Scholarship, which offers merit-based aid and is funded by the Kentucky Lottery.