New Report Details Opportunities for Community Colleges to Expand Apprenticeships

February 27, 2019

Community colleges are leaders in offering work-based learning opportunities. Colleges can serve more students by expanding apprenticeship programs to emerging industries and focusing on diversity.

The Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT), with support from Strada Education Network, today released an issue brief that offers community colleges strategies to expand apprenticeship programs.

“Community colleges have long been leaders in offering work-based learning opportunities and supporting students’ efforts to achieve their academic and career goals,” said ACCT President and CEO J. Noah Brown. “Moving forward, college leaders must look for opportunities to expand apprenticeship programs to new industries and develop outreach for their diverse student populations.”

The report highlights three key strategies for community colleges to expand their apprenticeship programs:

  • Increase apprenticeship programs in growing industries, such as health care and information technology;
  • Focus on increasing the diversity of participating students by recruiting more women and students of color; and
  • Tailor apprenticeship opportunities for students at different stages in their careers, ranging from young adults first entering the job market to experienced professionals looking to upskill or change careers.

 Apprenticeships are a growing strategy in the U.S. to empower people with an accredited postsecondary credential while simultaneously gaining practical career experience. According the U.S. Department of Labor, federally registered apprenticeships grew by over 40% from 2013 to 2017. Despite recent growth, most apprenticeship opportunities remain concentrated in a limited number of industries—particularly in the building trades—and women and students of color are underrepresented in these programs. Furthermore, limited federal and state funding devoted to apprenticeships restricts community colleges from offering new programs and limited financial aid options create a barrier for students to participate in existing ones.

“Through the Strada-Gallup Education Consumer Survey, students of all ages are telling us that their primary goal in seeking postsecondary education is to improve their employment opportunities. Community colleges are well-positioned to offer apprenticeships as an avenue to support students’ success in their careers and to help employers build a strong talent pipeline for the future,” said Carol D’Amico, Executive Vice President for National Engagement and Philanthropy at Strada Education Network.

The report also provides recommendations for policy makers, including increasing federal and state funding for apprenticeship programs and expanding students’ financial aid options.

“ACCT is committed to doing this work on individual campuses and working closely with policy makers to ensure community colleges have the resources necessary to offer these vital programs and students have the financial aid they need to participate,” Brown said.

Download the report.


Also listen to our related podcast featuring ACCT Senior Policy Analyst Allison Beer, Harper College President Ken Ender, and San Jacinto College Chancellor Brenda Hellyer discussing different apprenticeship program models profiled in this report.


About ACCT

The Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT) is a non-profit educational organization of governing boards, representing more than 6,500 elected and appointed trustees who govern over 1,200 community, technical, and junior colleges in the United States and beyond. For more information, go to Follow ACCT on Twitter @CCTrustees.


About Strada Education Network

Strada Education Network is a national nonprofit dedicated to improving lives by catalyzing more direct and promising pathways between education and employment. The Network engages partners across education, nonprofits, business and government to focus relentlessly on students’ success throughout all phases of their working lives. Together, they address critical college to career challenges through strategic philanthropy, research and insights, and mission-aligned affiliates — all focused on advancing the universal right to realized potential called Completion With a Purpose®. Learn more at