Registered building trades apprenticeship programs provide a better path to the middle class than a traditional college bachelor’s degree, according to a recent study by the Illinois Economic Policy Institute.
Entitled “Union Apprenticeships: The Bachelor’s Degrees of the Construction Industry, Data for the United States, 2010-2020,” the report analyzes 10 years of data from the Current Population Survey’s Annual Social and Economic Supplement, which is released by the U.S. Department of Labor and the U.S. Census Bureau.
The study explored how registered apprenticeship programs provide training hours, diversity outcomes, competitive earnings and positive social and fiscal effects that rival universities and community colleges. These programs achieve these outcomes without student debt, which averages $39,000 per student borrower in the U.S.
“For young workers, the unionized building trades’ registered apprenticeship programs offer excellent alternatives to achieving financial stability and upward economic mobility,” the study’s authors Frank Manzo IV and Erik Thorson wrote.
Graduates of registered apprenticeship programs can achieve near wage and benefits parity with other types of workers with bachelor’s degrees. The earn while you learn model gives apprentices a quality education without the weight of substantial debt, which allows them to be better financially positioned than those who have just graduated with only a bachelor’s degree.
There are three apprentice training facilities in the Local 24 region: Dayton, Cincinnati and Columbus (including South Point). Each of these state-of-the-art training centers prepares men and women for a successful career as a Sheet Metal Worker. Learn more about the SMW 24 apprenticeship program and how to become an apprentice.
The study noted construction workers who complete non-union apprenticeships do not fare as well. Their wages are more comparable to workers who only have high school diplomas. Union construction workers earn an average of $58,000, which is 46 percent higher than the median income of a non-union construction worker at $39,700.
The gap is even greater when fringe benefits are considered. About 89 percent of union construction workers have private health insurance coverage, compared to just 55 percent of nonunion construction workers, according to the study.
Average incomes for workers with associate degrees and bachelor’s degrees range from $48,200 to $68,200, and private health insurance coverage ranges from 84 percent to 90 percent.
Click here to apply to the Sheet Metal Workers Local 24 registered apprenticeship program.