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New Study Reveals Success of Michigan Union Construction Apprenticeship Programs

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Education + Training

New Study Reveals Success of Michigan Union Construction Apprenticeship Programs

A report by the Midwest Economic Policy Institute reveals that Michigan's union apprenticeship programs outperform universities on training, diversity, and debt

August 4, 2023
Students in construction apprenticeship class
Image: auremar / Stock.adobe.com

A recent study by the Midwest Economic Policy Institute (MEPI) revealed that Michigan's union apprenticeship programs leave graduates free of debt and have higher completion rates than both employer-only construction programs and community colleges in the state. Training programs jointly administered by unions and signatory contractors enroll more than 75% of the state’s construction apprentices and have completion rates that are 15 percentage points higher than employer-only (nonunion) programs, MEPI reports.

In addition, union apprenticeships require more training hours than students at universities and community colleges in Michigan, have higher Black and Hispanic enrollment shares than other post-secondary programs, leave participants entirely free of student debt, and have higher exit wages compared with workers who have associate degrees. 

“At a time when the labor market is prioritizing job quality and the construction industry is facing historic demand for new skilled workers to modernize American infrastructure, energy systems, and advanced manufacturing capabilities, this study provides an important analysis of the performance of Michigan’s workforce supply pipeline,” said MEPI Economist and study coauthor Frank Manzo IV, MPP. “On everything from enrollment diversity to middle-class wages to debt-free training, the data shows that the joint apprenticeship system administered by construction contractors and trade unions is delivering the biggest bang for the buck, by far.”

MEPI apprenticeship chart
Image: MEPI

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