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Learn about apprenticeship

Learn about the history, purpose, and success of the apprenticeship program.

All apprentice information is located here at the  Division of Apprentice Standards organization page

What is apprenticeship?

A registered apprenticeship is an employer-sponsored, flexible, training program that trains skilled workers to meet the workforce demands of a global economy. Your apprentice training prepares you with the skills and knowledge necessary to work at an industry-established standard.

The Division of Apprentice Standards (DAS) meets with industry stakeholders to review and maintain the standards that outline the structure of an apprenticeship.

A contract holds the state, the apprentice, and the sponsor to specific training and performance.

Work-based learning happens under the direction of a qualified journeyperson and combines structured on-the-job learning (80 to 85 percent) with instruction (15 to 20 percent).

Classroom training is usually provided by an approved in-house training program or by a proprietary school.

As paid workers, apprentices earn an increasing wage during apprenticeship.

If you complete your training as an apprentice, you achieve journeyperson status in your occupation. You also receive a nationally recognized credential. Apprenticeships are registered with DAS which deploys 3 apprenticeship training representatives in the state.


Additional Resources

Why should employers choose to sponsor apprenticeships?

Apprentices work and train from their first day, which helps deal with the shortage of skilled workers and the need for a highly skilled workforce.

Apprenticeships allow sponsors to tailor their worker training to fit the needs in their facility and meet their goals. Apprenticeships also

  • attract better applicants
  • instill company values and procedures
  • retain skilled employees
  • gain a knowledgeable workforce
  • benefit from skilled workers
  • replenish skilled workforce
  • increase safety
  • increase productivity
  • become more competitive
  • earn a return on investment

Apprenticeship numbers

  • An average apprenticeship lasts four years, during which the average apprentice earns $161,000
  • Annually, Massachusetts has over 5,000 active apprentices
  • A majority of apprenticeships are registered in construction trades
  • Currently, more than 2,000 employers train apprentices in Massachusetts

Apprenticeship occupations

Each year, Massachusetts registers apprenticeships in many different occupations:

  • traditional construction trades
    • plumbers, electricians, carpenters, etc.
  • service
    • dispensing opticians, utility line workers, etc.
  • industrial
    • maintenance mechanic, tool and die, etc.

Apprenticeship is an effective solution in any occupation that developing manual, mechanical, or technical skills that meet industry standard for that occupation. Apprenticeship also:

  • Requires at least 2,000 hours of on-the-job learning before approval
  • Is taught through on-the-job supervised learning
  • Requires related theoretical (academic) instruction to supplement the on-the-job learning
  • Is clearly recognized as an occupation throughout an industry
  • Apprenticeship training is in constantly changing
    • industry stakeholders from all over Massachusetts work together to keep apprentice training current and future-focused

History of apprenticeship

The apprenticeship method of training—with a skilled worker passing on craft knowledge to another—is almost as old as recorded history. Since the middle ages, skills have been passed on through a master-apprentice system in which the apprentice was contracted to the master for a specified period of years. The apprentice usually received food, shelter and clothing in return for the work the apprentice performed. Even though contracts were binding, they were not often regulated.

Apprenticeship in the U.S. was unregulated until 1937, when the Fitzgerald Act—the country’s first apprenticeship law—was passed. In the interest of both apprentice and sponsor, the federal government developed a system of registered apprenticeship. In 1941, the Massachusetts legislature created the state’s apprentice training department. From 1941 to the present day, thousands of apprentices have gone through the system and have contributed positively to the state’s economy.


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