Apprenticeship training has a long history in the United States but opportunities generally have been concentrated in skilled trades related to building and construction. The benefits of Registered Apprenticeship (RA) training--programs that have formal standards and are regulated by both state and federal agencies--are well documented. Participants have higher employment participation rates and enjoy higher lifetime earnings; the state experiences reduced public outlays for unemployment insurance and public assistance; and employers report that RA programs contribute to improved employee performance, productivity, and overall morale. In recent years, RAs have been promoted as a way to address workforce development needs in industries that have not historically engaged in apprenticeship training, including healthcare. Current data indicate that healthcare-related apprenticeship training accounts for a very small proportion of overall apprenticeship activity. However, current unemployment rates in the healthcare industry are very low, particularly for hospitals, while the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects substantial occupational growth in the healthcare and social assistance sector over the next decade. Strong demand for labor will present opportunities for new RA programs for healthcare occupations. Although RA programs have a limited presence in the healthcare industry, the basic framework of the RA model is reflected in current healthcare training and education programs. Health professions education includes a significant amount of hands-on learning concurrent with classroom-based learning; health professions students work closely with preceptors during their supervised clinical experiences; and, at least for physicians (and to a lesser extent registered nurses) there is a period of apprenticeship-like training in the form of a residency that precedes regular employment in the profession. Given these similarities, healthcare would seem to be a natural fit for apprenticeship programs. This paper presents findings from a series of interviews with key informants who were asked to share their views on the perceived value of RA programs, as well as challenges and opportunities associated with RA programs in healthcare. The study participants included sponsors of RA programs (both employers and workforce intermediaries), representatives of labor unions, representatives of educational institutions that provide RA programs' related technical instruction (RTI), and workforce development specialists.
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