Registered Apprenticeship Programs: Labor Can Better Use Data to Target Oversight

GAO-05-886 Published: Aug 29, 2005. Publicly Released: Sep 13, 2005.
Jump To:
Skip to Highlights

Between 2002 and 2012 nearly 850,000 jobs will open in the construction industry; experts predict that there will not be enough skilled workers to fill them. This has heightened concerns about program outcomes and program quality in the nation's apprenticeship system and the U.S. Department of Labor's oversight of it. GAO assessed (1) the extent to which Labor monitors registered apprenticeship programs in the states where it has direct oversight, (2) its oversight activities in states that do their own monitoring, and (3) the outcomes for construction apprentices in programs sponsored by employers and unions in relation to programs sponsored by employers alone.

Skip to Recommendations


Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of Labor The Secretary of Labor should take steps to better utilize information in Labor's database, such as indicators of program performance, for management oversight, particularly for apprenticeship programs in occupations with expected future labor shortages.
Closed – Implemented
Registered Apprenticeship Information System enhancement efforts were completed and the new system, Registered Apprenticeship Partnership Information Data System (RAPIDS), was implemented in November 2007. The initial system design was developed by Federal and state staff in partnership with apprenticeship stakeholders that included State Apprenticeship Agencies (SAAs), employers, and sponsors. RAPIDS features a new electronic program component that allows sponsors to input data electronically in a more timely process and allows apprentices to identify career linkages to other employment and training programs. The redesigned system also offers an interface component that will allow the exchange of common data elements from the SAA states into RAPIDS. New reports are being designed to provide trend data analysis that will focus on new occupations, such as "green" industries, and benchmark penetration rates in apprenticeship against the Bureau of Labor Statistics occupational projections.
Department of Labor The Secretary of Labor should take steps to develop a cost-effective strategy for collecting data from council-monitored states.
Closed – Not Implemented
In fiscal 2008, Labor reported that, in the short term, it is developing a request to receive more comprehensive information from council-monitored states on a quarterly basis. In the long, term the agency will continue to encourage these states to participate in its data base. According to Labor, it is offering technical assistance and information as a way to accomplish such participation. Labor has not taken any additional actions in fiscal 2009.
Department of Labor The Secretary of Labor should take steps to conduct Labor's reviews of apprenticeship activities in states that regulate their own programs on a regular basis to ensure that state activities are in accord with Labor's requirements for recognition of apprenticeship programs.
Closed – Implemented
Labor established improved processes, procedures, and timelines for these reviews. As of September 2005, Labor reviewed 14 self-regulatory states and is on schedule to complete reviews of the remaining states in 2006. These efforts will ensure that apprenticeship activities in these states are in alignment with federal guidelines.
Department of Labor The Secretary of Labor should take steps to offer substantive feedback to states from its reviews.
Closed – Implemented
According to Labor, guidelines have been improved to capture, acknowledge, and report to states, the outcomes of program reviews. Labor notes that the Office of Apprenticeship, along with the Office of the Solicitor, has provided states with substantive feedback, such as comments and recommendation and proposed solutions.

Full Report