“A recent report from the Illinois Economic Policy Institute has found that a union apprenticeship can be as valuable as a traditional four-year degree." The following summary is from the report...
Graduating college is not the only pathway to economic security and upward mobility for American workers. Through registered apprenticeship programs, the construction industry enables blue-collar workers to achieve middle class lifestyles. However, not all construction apprenticeship programs operate the same way. While outcomes for participants in joint labor-management (or union) apprenticeship programs rival those for college graduates and the programs account for the vast majority of construction apprentices in the United States, employer-only (or nonunion) apprenticeship programs generally produce labor market outcomes that are on par with national averages for high school graduates.
Registered apprenticeships are training programs in which participants get the opportunity to “earn while they learn,” with no out-of-pocket expenses. In construction, joint labor-management (union) programs:
- Account for the vast majority of construction apprentices in the United States.
- Are more racially diverse than employer-only (nonunion) apprenticeship programs.
- Typically require 27 to 41 percent more hours of training than public four-year universities. The labor market outcomes of union construction workers are competitive with workers with college degrees, while nonunion construction workers are only on par with workers with high school diplomas.
- Union construction workers earn $58,000 per year on average, 46 percent more than nonunion construction workers ($39,700).
- 89% of union construction workers have private health insurance coverage compared with just 55% of nonunion construction workers, a 34% difference.
- Among all workers with associate degrees and bachelor’s degrees, average incomes range from $48,200 to $68,200 and private health insurance coverage ranges from 84% to 90%.
- 4% of union construction workers are in poverty, 4% rely on Medicaid, and 60% are married
- 10% of nonunion construction workers live in poverty, 10% rely on Medicaid, and 48% are married.
- 2% of workers with bachelor’s degrees are in poverty, 3% rely on Medicaid, and 56% are married. Union construction workers have positive impacts on public budgets.
- Union construction workers annually contribute $5,600 in federal income taxes, $4,200 in payroll taxes, and $1,700 in state income taxes.
- Union construction workers contribute 68% more in federal income taxes, 49% more in payroll taxes, and 61% more in state income taxes than their nonunion counterparts.
- Union construction workers contribute more in income taxes, payroll taxes, and state income taxes than all workers with associate degrees but less than all workers with bachelor’s degrees.
The labor market outcomes of union construction workers are competitive with workers with college degrees, while nonunion construction workers are only on par with workers with high school diplomas.
The social outcomes of union construction workers are also similar to workers with college degrees.
Union construction workers have positive impacts on public budgets.
Joint labor-management apprenticeship programs are the bachelor’s degrees of the construction industry, delivering training hours, diversity outcomes, competitive earnings, and positive social and fiscal effects that rival universities and community colleges. These outcomes are achieved without incurring $39,000 in debt, which is the average loan burden for student borrowers across the United States. For young workers, the unionized building trades’ registered apprenticeship programs offer excellent alternatives to achieving financial stability and upward economic mobility.
Please follow the link below to read the entire report:
Click here for full PDF