Apprenticeship Programs See Influx of Interest, Grant Money

AAPA was awarded a $5.89 million grant and is among 28 U.S. entities to receive money to administer nearly $100 million over a four-year period through the “Apprenticeship: Closing the Skills Gap: US DOL Apprenticeship Grants.”


In late February, AAPA was awarded a $5.89M grant by the U.S. Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration to be used for the building and expansion of apprenticeship programs that will serve to upgrade and expand the workforce for their port members and related partners. The apprenticeship model expands and offers relevant education along with structured on-the-job learning that – within the transportation and maritime industry – includes all ports and all modes of transportation. AAPA is among 28 U.S. entities to receive varying grant awards to administer nearly $100 million over a four-year period through the Apprenticeship: Closing the Skills Gap: US DOL Apprenticeship Grants.

The focus of these grant awards from the US DOL Office of Apprenticeship is to expand sector-based apprenticeship programs for middle- to high-skill occupations where this brings new entrants into the workforce in these occupations that will allow for a specific career pathway and build a means to “upskill” current incumbents. This work will be done by developing and teaching new pathways and/or building on existing apprenticeship programs in the broader transportation sector, in shipbuilding and repair, and in other occupational pathways that include a focus on cybersecurity and other IT roles. AAPA will emphasize on trades and auto technicians with pathways to engineers and designers.

“The beautiful thing about apprenticeships is they’re getting paid at their employment, receiving benefits, and most often, their education is paid for,” said Barbara Murray, executive director for TransPORTs – US DOL National Apprenticeship. “The grant can be used for specific payments to assist the apprentices via their employers, though most often the funds are used to help defray the cost for the education for the apprentices. Incentive funding can also be requested to assist in defraying the cost for the employer/mentors for on-the-job learning and approved tools.”

As the national industry association charged with grant administration, AAPA is planning to work with some 5,000 apprentices nationwide over a four-year period. AAPA will coordinate with its port, employer and college partners, offering apprentice and port-related instruction via courses that can be customized for the apprenticeship programs. AAPA’s specialized grant team will build on the deep employer relationships with transportation and related organizations that are interested in offering apprenticeship programs to build and strengthen their workforce; they will market apprenticeship programs throughout its vast membership and within its stakeholder communities.

Apprenticeship is a proven workforce model. “It’s looking at how we can take persons who may have some of the education or degree without the relevant skills. This apprenticeship program will bring them in, give them very specific education and structured on-the-job training,” said Murray. “Once they are able, and highly educated, they’ll be able to fulfill the employer’s workforce needs and earn the credentials to verify their ability and knowledge to perform those higher level roles.”

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