Across the country, employers are reporting a skills gap for middle-skill jobs that require some form of post high school education or training but not a bachelor’s degree. Employers report there are insufficient numbers of job applicants with the occupational/technical skills required for open middle-skill positions and that too many applicants lack critical “soft skills,” and have no relevant work experience. State policymakers have heard employers’ concerns and are seeking solutions.
One key strategy for filling these skill gaps is work-based learning programs like apprenticeship and career and technical education with a worksite component — programs that blend worksite and classroom learning to prepare workers with the skills employers need. This dual model of training has a long tradition of proven effectiveness. Yet, the scale of workbased learning, especially paid work-based learning, is limited in the United States.
Recognizing the value of work-based learning and the opportunity to spread work-based learning to more populations and sectors of the economy, states have adopted policies to help increase the scope of work-based learning opportunities.
National Skills Coalition (NSC) has scanned the fifty states and the District of Columbia to identify the policies that states have in place to support work-based learning that includes paid employment. Through the scan, NSC finds that:
Thirty-five states have a policy in place to support work-based learning.
- Fourteen of these states have an expansion initiative that directs resources for state staff or other organizations to support the growth of work-based learning.
- Eighteen of these states provide a subsidy to employers who participate in work-based learning. Ten provide a grant or reimbursement to employers, and ten provide a tax credit. (Two states provide both.)
- Fourteen of these states have a policy supporting pre-apprenticeships or youth apprenticeships.
- At least eleven of these states have another type of policy to require or fund work experiences for secondary students that include paid work-based learning.
- Nine of these states have a policy subsidizing postsecondary classroom instruction for apprentices.
The scan explains each type of work-based learning policy, identifies which states have work-based learning policies in place (including descriptions of those policies) and reveals which states have opportunities to adopt new policies.