What is an Apprenticeship?

Earn While You Learn

Apprenticeship is a training system, based upon a three way written agreement between the apprentice (employee), the sponsor (employer), and the Department of Labor through which the worker learns a skilled craft or trade on the job. Apprenticeship programs usually consist of 2,000 hours per year of on-the-job training under the guidance of an experienced craft worker. Through practical experience, an apprentice develops skills in a chosen trade. Apprentice training programs can last from a minimum of one year to a maximum of six years. Apprenticeship also requires a minimum of 150 hours of related instruction during each year of training. This provides theoretical training to explain why things are done the way they are on the job.

Apprenticeship is attractive because the apprentice is paid during the learning process. Starting pay is usually about 50% of the craft worker’s going rate. Generally, apprentices making satisfactory progress get a raise in pay every six months. During the last six months of the apprenticeship period they usually earn about 85% of the craft worker’s current rate. They receive the full craft worker’s rate upon completion of training.  And, of course, there are fringe benefits in many programs, like paid vacations, paid holidays, insurance, hospitalization and retirement plans.


Women in Construction Trades


Apprenticeship programs are conducted through the voluntary cooperation of labor, management, schools and government throughout the state. The apprenticeship training staff monitors and evaluates the variety and the quality of the apprentice’s work experience. The training facility will certify that the apprentice has satisfactorily completed the apprenticeship program. Then, the State of Delaware Department of Labor will issue a certificate of completion, signifying that the apprentice has met all the requirements of apprenticeship (on-the-job training and related instruction).

Apprenticeship can be the beginning of a career ladder. After apprentices obtain craft worker status, many find that greater opportunities open up because they are recognized as skilled workers. They often become superintendents, contractors, instructors in the trade, or apprentice coordinators. Some go on to be business managers or achieve success as top level officials in industry.

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