The number of apprenticeship programs and apprentices grew significantly in Michigan during the last decade while extending into nontraditional areas beyond construction and manufacturing, according to a state report.
The number of newly registered apprentices annually grew to 7,845 in 2018 from 2,816 in 2008.
Meanwhile, 1,670 people completed apprenticeship programs last year, which compares to 1,059 a decade earlier and a low of 755 in 2014 as the state recovered from the Great Recession, according to the report from the Michigan Department of Technology, Management & Budget.
In 2018, Michigan ranked fourth in the U.S. for the number of active and newly registered apprentices, and fifth in active programs.
“Apprenticeships are a pathway to great jobs in Michigan, and an opportunity to earn a good wage without significant tuition debt,” Jeff Donofrio, Michigan’s director of Labor and Economic Opportunity, said in a statement.
Overall, there were nearly 21,000 registered apprentices in more than 1,000 apprenticeship programs across the state last year, said Stephanie Beckhorn, director of workforce development for Labor and Economic Opportunity.
Growth in apprenticeships has accelerated in recent years amid low unemployment and a tight labor market that has many employers struggling to find qualified employees, particularly in the skilled trades. As of October, unemployment statewide was 4.1 percent.
The average number of new apprentices annually more than doubled to 6,200 people from 2016 to 2018, which compares to 2,900 annually from 2008 to 2015.
A large majority of the new apprentice positions were in traditional industries of manufacturing and construction, although nontraditional sectors such as retail trade, health care and social assistance, and energy also grew, according to the state.
The report noted an increase of 169 new apprentices from 2015 to 2018 for engineering technologists and technicians “after having no apprentices in prior years.” Medical assistants grew by 106 positions in 2017 and 2018 “after registering only two in previous years.”
“A rise in new apprentices within the past few years across several occupations is a commonality among the smaller occupations,” according to the report.
At 28.3 percent, the energy sector accounted for the largest share of nontraditional newly registered apprenticeships from 2008 to 2018. Retail trade was second at 25.4 percent.