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Over 20 Percent Youth Joblessness and Still No Apprenticeships? This was a question posed by economist Robert Lerner as he advocated for expanded youth apprenticeship as a key strategy for raising the skills and productivity of American workers. In his paper, Can the United States Expand Apprenticeship? Lessons from Experience, Lerner offers examples of skill mismatches, especially for many technical jobs requiring mastery of specific occupational tasks. He suggests that this mismatch can be largely addressed by ensuring that apprenticeship becomes an attractive and viable alternative to college and/or the military for many more high school students.

So what is apprenticeship? Registered apprenticeship connects students who are interested in developing new skills with employers who want to train workers for jobs that use those skills. Students earn while they learn – usually at least minimum wage at the start of their program, with increases as they progress. Apprentices typically complete 2,000 hours of on-the-job training and at least 144 hours of related instruction each year. Sponsoring employers, employer associations or labor unions will often pay for the technical instruction that is provided by a technical school, community college, or at an apprenticeship training center. Individuals who complete an apprenticeship earn a nationally recognized certificate. You can learn much more about apprenticeship, including sources of additional information and from testimonials, by reading a recent article – “Apprenticeship: Earn while you learn” – in the Occupational Outlook Quarterly.

This table reflects the ten most popular apprentice occupations. You can click on each occupational code to view additional details – like wages for inexperienced workers in the occupation, or current job openings – available in the Utah Occupation Information Data Viewer.


Occupational Code

Active Apprentices, 2012

Median Nat’l Hourly Wage

Median Utah Hourly Wage



36,742 $23.96 $21.81


15,479 $19.20 $17.07


13,201 $23.62 $23.44
Pipe fitter


8,586 $23.62 $23.44
Construction craft laborer


7,947 $14.42 $13.51
Sheet metal worker


7,714 $20.81 $21.76


5,479 $16.97 $15.95
Structural steel/ironworker


5,041 $22.18 $19.10


3,560 $16.92 $16.54
Pipe fitter (sprinkler fitter)


3,266 $23.62 $23.62

Sources: U. S. Department of Labor Office of Apprenticeship, U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment Statistics program, Utah Department of Workforce Services

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