Selected SLC Research


Policy Analysis | August 1, 2018

Apprenticeships in the South

Roger Moore, Policy Analyst

Due to a lack of training and education among prospective employees, many businesses often have difficulty finding enough skilled workers to remain competitive in the global economy. This is particularly the case for positions that require moderate to high levels of technical knowledge, which are critical for sustained success in today’s job market.

Successful apprenticeship programs, which have proven valuable for both businesses and students, can help state and local leaders address the skills gap that exists in many industries. For businesses, apprenticeships can nurture student interest in careers related to their industry, potentially increasing the number of applicants in the future and improving employee retention and productivity. They also facilitate robust partnerships with schools, thereby ensuring that education standards include the skills and training necessary to succeed in growing industries. For students, apprenticeships offer the opportunity to apply content learned in the classroom to the workplace, allowing them to explore career options by gaining critical work experience. Apprentices also can interact with mentors who can assist them later when they are seeking career opportunities.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, there were more than 530,000 active apprentices in 2017 across a wide range of industries, including construction, manufacturing, transportation, utilities, healthcare, retail and education, among many others.* Since 2014, the number of active apprentices nationally has grown by 30 percent, while the number of apprenticeship programs has increased by nearly 17 percent. During that time, more than 210,000 individuals have completed an apprenticeship program, increasing from 44,417 in 2014 to 64,021 in 2017.

In the SLC region, the number of active apprentices has significantly increased in recent years. Five of the 15 states in the South, including South Carolina, Missouri, Arkansas, Florida and North Carolina, were among the top 10 nationally in active apprentice growth rates between 2014-2017. Meanwhile, West Virginia, Texas, Georgia and Alabama ranked in the top 20 nationally, followed by Kentucky, Mississippi and Tennessee, all of which experienced growth greater than 30 percent.

Since 2014, 10 of the 15 Southern states also have experienced growth in the number of apprenticeship programs, led by South Carolina, with an increase of 108 percent, the highest in the nation. Kentucky was second nationally with growth close to 73 percent, followed by Arkansas and Alabama, both among the top 10 nationally, with growth in apprenticeship programs increasing by approximately 29 percent and 24 percent, respectively. North Carolina, Texas, Tennessee, Louisiana, Missouri and Mississippi, likewise, experienced growth in the number of apprenticeship programs between 2014-2017.


* National figures include all 50 states and the District of Columbia, as well as the U.S. Military Apprenticeship Program, which allows active duty service members to complete civilian apprenticeship requirements.


Active Apprentices 2014-2017
Ranking State Active Apprentices 2017 Active Apprentices 2014 Percentage Growth 2014-2017
1 Nebraska 9,580 1,738 451.21
2 South Carolina 17,609 4,485 292.62
3 Missouri 14,274 7,379 93.44
4 Michigan 17,731 9,352 89.60
5 California 62,694 34,901 79.63
6 Iowa 9,393 5,385 74.43
7 Arkansas 5,447 3,129 74.08
8 Florida 12,621 7,395 70.67
9 Indiana 17,323 10,154 70.60
10 North Carolina 6,124 3,636 68.43
11 Nevada 3,985 2,371 68.07
12 Massachusetts 11,154 6,748 65.29
13 Utah 3,923 2,385 64.49
14 Idaho 1,196 748 59.89
15 New Hampshire 2,403 1,522 57.88
16 West Virginia 5,487 3,534 55.26
17 Pennsylvania 16,662 10,821 53.98
18 Texas 17,473 11,364 53.76
19 Georgia 8,109 5,376 50.84
20 Alabama 4,905 3,296 48.82
21 Montana 1,650 1,111 48.51
22 Illinois 15,186 10,380 46.30
23 Hawaii 9,622 6,799 41.52
24 Washington 15,226 10,860 40.20
25 Kentucky 3,384 2,452 38.01
26 New Jersey 7,299 5,322 37.15
27 Oregon 8,808 6,510 35.30
28 Mississippi 2,073 1,560 32.88
29 Tennessee 5,948 4,517 31.68
30 Ohio 18,335 14,015 30.82
31 Vermont 1,165 905 28.73
32 Minnesota 11,618 9,126 27.31
33 Arizona 3,560 2,820 26.24
34 Colorado 5,990 4,771 25.55
35 Alaska 2,380 1,998 19.12
36 Wisconsin 10,700 9,485 12.81
37 South Dakota 715 637 12.24
38 Connecticut 5,665 5,175 9.47
39 Delaware 1,164 1,069 8.89
40 North Dakota 1,088 1,005 8.26
41 Wyoming 409 384 6.51
42 New York 16,980 16,238 4.57
43 Louisiana 3,816 3,762 1.44
44 Virginia 15,429 15,649 -1.41
45 Oklahoma 1,332 1,434 -7.11
46 New Mexico 1,530 1,711 -10.58
47 Maryland 9,090 13,435 -32.34
48 Maine 429 670 -35.97
49 Kansas 1,966 3,394 -42.07
50 Rhode Island 523 1,337 -60.88
Active Apprenticeship Programs 2014-2017
Ranking State Active Apprenticeship Programs 2017 Active Apprenticeship Programs 2014 Percentage Growth 2014-2017
1 South Carolina 964 463 108.21
2 Kentucky 204 118 72.88
3 Hawaii 118 81 45.68
4 North Dakota 88 61 44.26
5 Arizona 150 104 44.23
6 Iowa 856 626 36.74
7 New Hampshire 315 237 32.91
8 California 267 203 31.53
9 Arkansas 103 80 28.75
10 Alabama 114 92 23.91
11 Wyoming 88 76 15.79
12 North Carolina 568 491 15.68
13 Indiana 945 829 13.99
14 Texas 418 367 13.90
15 Nebraska 101 89 13.48
16 South Dakota 100 89 12.36
17 Vermont 338 302 11.92
18 Alaska 357 322 10.87
19 Idaho 133 121 9.92
20 Tennessee 348 322 8.07
21 Massachusetts 1,374 1,291 6.43
22 Louisiana 52 49 6.12
23 New York 725 685 5.84
24 Missouri 395 375 5.33
25 Ohio 968 924 4.76
26 Mississippi 96 93 3.23
27 Pennsylvania 761 744 2.28
28 Michigan 998 982 1.63
29 Delaware 313 311 0.64
30 Washington 261 262 -0.38
31 Oklahoma 99 100 -1.00
32 Connecticut 1,480 1,504 -1.60
33 Montana 592 602 -1.66
34 Wisconsin 959 992 -3.33
35 Rhode Island 484 512 -5.47
36 Florida 206 222 -7.21
37 Nevada 80 87 -8.05
38 Kansas 243 277 -12.27
39 Utah 213 243 -12.35
40 Virginia 1,930 2,220 -13.06
41 New Jersey 727 867 -16.15
42 Illinois 431 515 -16.31
43 Colorado 172 215 -20.00
44 Minnesota 194 316 -38.61
45 West Virginia 249 459 -45.75
46 New Mexico 35 66 -46.97
47 Maine 73 193 -62.18
48 Georgia 132 396 -66.67
49 Maryland 133 423 -68.56
50 Oregon N/A 440 N/A

Source: U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration