Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Trends in Military Apprenticeships

In last week's blog, I wrote about indications that apprenticeships for civilians are starting to come back from their severe decline in the recent recession. This week, I'm looking at the trends in military apprenticeships.

You may not have known that many veterans leave military service possessing a nationally recognized certificate of completion, indicating that they have met the same requirements as civilian apprentices and therefore have the same mastery of skills required by the particular trade. Such a certificate must ease the transition to civilian employment for many vets. (I discuss this transition in my book 150 Best Jobs for the Military-to-Civilian Transition.) The United Services Military Apprenticeship Program (USMAP) is an option for active duty service members in the Navy, Coast Guard, and Marine Corps.

 I looked at the recent trends in these programs, as shown in data reported by the Office of Apprenticeship of the Employment and Training Administration, U.S. Department of Labor. One trend I discovered was a steady increase in the number of new military apprentices.
New Military Apprentices

Of course, not every service member who enters an apprenticeship program completes it. In fact, the number of program dropouts has also climbed steadily. Miltary Apprenticeship Cancellations

This increase in cancellations has caused the number of service members currently enrolled in an apprenticeship program to level off and decline slightly. The trends differ slightly for military men and women, but because women are a minority of those in uniform, the overall trend is closest to the first graph below:
Active Male Military Apprentices
Active Female Military Apprentices

The slight decline in the number of active military apprentices has not reversed the upward trend in the number of those completing apprenticeship--at least, not yet. Military Apprenticeship Completers

I'm curious about future trends. For example, I'm guessing that the coming pull-out from Afghanistan will encourage service members to stay enlisted longer and thus give them a greater likelihood of completing an apprenticeship. I also expect that Stateside deployment, as opposed to deployment in a combat zone, will also increase service members' opportunities to be engaged in apprenticeship programs. Finally, the continuing recovery of the civilian economy is likely to reduce attrition in military apprenticeship programs; as civilian job openings become more plentiful, service members will recognize an increase in the value of a certificate of completion.

But these are just guesses on my part. Stay tuned for future releases of data from the folks at the Department of Labor. I think the world of them!

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