Apprenticeship Training:

Administration, Use, and Equal Opportunity

HRD-92-43: Published: Mar 4, 1992. Publicly Released: Mar 4, 1992.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Bureau of Apprenticeship and Training's (BAT) operations, focusing on: (1) the use of apprenticeships to train workers; (2) federal and state resources dedicated to administering apprenticeships; and (3) the representation of minorities and women in apprenticeships.

GAO found that: (1) BAT is responsible for registering or having state agencies register apprenticeship programs, promoting apprenticeships, providing technical assistance to establish apprenticeship programs, helping to develop affirmative action plans, and enforcing equal employment standard compliance; (2) in 1990, the number of registered apprentices was equivalent to about 2 percent of the number of U.S. college students; (3) although employment has increased by $18 million since 1980, the number of registered civilian apprentices decreased by 11 percent; (4) the number of apprenticeship programs has remained essentially constant at 43,000 since the mid-1980s, but in 1990 about half of the programs had no active apprentices; (5) since 1980, inflation-adjusted federal resources in support of BAT have decreased by 30 percent and currently comprise about 0.4 percent of Department of Labor spending programs; (6) in fiscal year 1990, 21 of the 30 states with apprenticeship councils reported spending about $18 million on apprenticeship administration and 14 reported spending $29 million on related apprentice instructions; (7) although states spent almost three times as much as BAT on apprenticeship, state apprenticeship directors anticipate state funding to decline over the next few years; (8) of the 68 occupations with the most civilian apprentices, about 32 percent of minority apprentices, versus 23 percent of whites, were in the lowest earning group; (9) women were underrepresented in apprenticeships for high paying jobs; (10) between 1973 and 1983, women's representation in apprenticeship increased from virtually none to 6.6 percent; and (11) apprenticeship officials attributed women's underrepresentation in apprenticeships to their lack of knowledge regarding apprenticeship opportunities, inability to meet entrance requirements, and on-the-job hazing and harassment.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Secretary has initiated a "women in skilled trades" initiative, stepped up outreach and promotional efforts, and developed promotional materials. The Department of Labor is planning demonstration projects and research on improving women's opportunities in skilled trades. Also, states and service delivery areas are being given goals on training and placing women in nontraditional employment.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Labor should work with BAT and the Women's Bureau to identify actions to improve the outreach and recruiting of women into apprenticeships.

    Agency Affected: Department of Labor


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