Looking Back on National Apprenticeship Week 2023

Secretary Su, Secretary Cardona, government officials, students and others crowd together on a stage for a group photo.
Office of Apprenticeship Division Director Cierra Mitchell and Administrator John Ladd (left) Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona, Acting Secretary or Labor Julie Su, White House Domestic Policy Council Director Neera Tanden (center), and ETA Senior Advisor Manny Lamarre (right) with apprentice graduates.

Every year, I look forward to National Apprenticeship Week because it’s a moment for us to celebrate the transformative power of Registered Apprenticeship to change lives and strengthen our economy. Registered Apprenticeships are one of the most powerful tools we have for workers to find and secure their place in the middle class. They are truly a superhighway to good jobs and play an essential role in expanding opportunities in our workforce that include individuals who have been historically underserved, marginalized or adversely affected by persistent poverty and inequality. For these reasons, the Biden-Harris administration has invested $446 million to modernize, diversify and expand Registered Apprenticeship.

National Apprenticeship Week 2023 was another record-setting year, with over 471 proclamations and 1,372 events! Through these events and proclamations, businesses from all industry sectors demonstrated why they are increasingly turning to Registered Apprenticeship as a talent development pipeline into their industry. Elected officials at all levels of government, organized labor, and leaders in workforce, education and communities across America extolled the value of Registered Apprenticeship in transforming their communities.

Last Monday, we kicked off NAW 2023 by celebrating apprentice graduates from a range of industries. I had the pleasure of meeting several apprentices, including newly-selected Apprentice Trailblazer Fatinah Muhammad, a software engineer with Integer Technologies in South Carolina. Fatinah was the first graduate of the South Carolina HBCU Consortium, which launched the first degree-based Registered Apprenticeship program in partnership with Benedict College, Integer Technologies and others. This is just one of many powerful stories.

Highlights from this National Apprenticeship Week include:

Celebrating Registered Apprenticeship Graduates

On Monday, I kicked off the week with Acting Secretary of Labor Julie Su, Education Secretary Miguel Cardona, Commerce Senior Counselor Zoe Baird, the President’s Domestic Policy Advisor Neera Tanden and stakeholders at the Department of Labor’s Francis Perkins Building in Washington, D.C., to recognize recent apprentice graduates from a range of industries central to the nation’s “Investing in America” initiative, such as construction, advanced manufacturing and clean energy, education, cybersecurity and healthcare. We also announced the first cohort of youth Apprentice Trailblazers, who will share their perspectives, experience and success stories to help promote, diversify and expand Registered Apprenticeship through the Apprentice Trailblazer initiative.

Announcing the inaugural National Youth Apprenticeship Week, May 5-11, 2024

At the graduation event we also announced our plans to celebrate the first Youth Apprenticeship Week next spring. Like National apprenticeship Week, Youth Apprenticeship Week aims to increase awareness of apprenticeships among youth, educators, parents, state agencies, workforce partners, organized labor and industry, and to highlight the benefits of apprenticeships as a pathway to careers for today’s youth.

Signing National Program Standards in critical Advanced Manufacturing occupations

In Washington, D.C., Megan Baird, deputy administrator of the department’s Office of Apprenticeship, participated in two signing ceremonies. On Nov. 15, she joined David Long, CEO of the National Electrical Contractors Association, and Kellie Holland, ELECTRI international chair, to celebrate their new national guideline standards for the occupation of project management specialist to strengthen the talent pipeline in electrical contracting management.

Megan later joined Dr. John W. Mitchell, president and CEO of IPC International, Inc., to celebrate IPC’s new national program standards in the electronics manufacturing sector, which will enable IPC to offer paid training and experiential learning opportunities to recruit, train and retrain the skilled workers needed to build critical electronic systems components. In addition to this new program, IPC is piloting a pre-apprenticeship program to equip over 200 high school students with essential skills for success in the electronics assembly sector.

Strengthening our Workforce System

On Wednesday, I joined Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker for the Employment and Training Administration's Vision 2030 Conference: Investing in America's Workforce. As part of this event, we held a panel discussion with the Safal Partners Registered Apprenticeship Technical Assistance Center of Excellence highlighting strategies for seamlessly aligning Registered Apprenticeship with the broader workforce system. 

Celebrating the Third National Women in Apprenticeship Day

There were many events across the country celebrating the occasion. The Women’s Bureau hosted a webinar on “Young Women in Apprenticeship: Starting Early on the Road to High Pay,” during which Bureau Director Wendy Chun-Hoon moderated a discussion on the advantages of apprenticeship and recruitment strategies to attract women.

We look forward to sharing more highlights in the coming weeks, and in the meantime you can visit our social media wall to see more from #NAW2023. And visit Apprenticeship.gov to learn how to start an apprenticeship program, find apprenticeship opportunities, explore resources for educators and more.

John Ladd is the administrator for the Office of Apprenticeship in the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration.