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Jan 18 -- The US Department of Labor (DOL) requests clearance from OMB for a new collection associated with the Evaluating Registered Apprenticeship Initiative. Comments to OMB are invited by February 20, 2024.

The Chief Evaluation Office of the U.S. DOL commissioned the Evaluating Registered Apprenticeship Initiative study to design and conduct analyses that add to the evidence base on apprenticeship strategies and models through an evaluation of the Apprenticeship Building America (ABA) grants. ABA awarded grants in four categories: state apprenticeship building and modernization (category 1), youth apprenticeships (category 2), pre-apprenticeships (category 3), and registered apprenticeship hubs (category 4).

The DOL Chief Evaluation Office (CEO), in collaboration with DOL Employment and Training Administration (ETA) funded the Evaluating Registered Apprenticeship Initiatives Study (ERAI) with a goal of understanding the implementation of these recent investments in apprenticeship sponsored by the Department. The purpose of the project is three-fold:

-- Design and conduct analyses that add to the evidence base on apprenticeship strategies and models through an evaluation of the Apprenticeship Building American (ABA) grants.
-- Conduct an impact and cost-benefit evaluability assessment of pre-registered apprenticeship programs that lead to registered apprenticeship programs (RAPs).
-- Coordinate across the portfolio of apprenticeship projects at CEO and beyond to facilitate sharing of findings, methods, and learning about apprenticeship broadly across research teams.

DOL’s CEO contracted with Urban Institute and its partners, Mathematica, and Social Policy Research Associates to conduct the study of these efforts. The ERAI will address the first purpose above by conducting three implementation studies:

-- Implementation study of the ABA State Apprenticeship System Building and Modernization grants
-- Implementation study of the ABA Expansion of RAP Opportunities for Youth grants and ABA Ensuring Equitable RAP Pathways through Pre-Apprenticeship Leading to RAP enrollment and Equity Partnerships grants (referred to as the ABA Youth Apprenticeship and Pre-Apprenticeship grants.
-- Implementation study of ABA Registered Apprenticeship Hubs grants

This is a new collection request associated with the ERAI. This package requests clearance from 14 data collection activities which need to start in February 2024. A timely start to the information collection is critical for conducting the study. The 14 data collection instruments are:

-- ABA Youth Apprenticeship and Pre-apprenticeship Grantee Survey
-- ABA State Apprenticeship System Grantee Survey
-- ABA Registered Apprenticeship Hub Grantee Survey
-- ABA Pre-apprenticeship Participant Survey
-- ABA Apprenticeship Survey
-- ABA Participant Focus Group Protocol
-- ABA Youth Apprenticeship and Pre-apprenticeship Grantee Staff Interview Protocol
-- ABA Youth Apprenticeship and Pre-apprenticeship Partner/Employer Interview Protocol
-- ABA State Apprenticeship System Grantee Staff/Partner Interview Protocol
-- ABA State Apprenticeship System Employer Interview Protocol
-- ABA Registered Apprenticeship Hub Grantee Staff Interview Protocol
-- ABA Registered Apprenticeship Hub Partner Interview Protocol
-- ABA Registered Apprenticeship Hub Grantee Customer Interview Protocol
-- ABA Impact Evaluation Baseline Survey - participants

DOL and various industries have invested billions of dollars over the past decade to encourage, develop and expand industry-driven apprenticeship training nationwide. Further, through the Build Back Better (BBB) and Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), the need for a coordinated national investment strategy for Registered Apprenticeship is critical to support the Administration’s goals and priorities. The ABA grant program builds on the Department’sprevious and ongoing efforts to expand and modernize Registered Apprenticeship through expanding the number of programs and apprentices, diversifying the industries that utilize Registered Apprenticeship, and increasing access to and completion of RAPs for underrepresented populations and underserved communities.

DOL awarded the ABA grants in 2022, investing $171 million to fund 39 grantees, including a focus on equity and partnerships as well as pre-apprenticeship activities. The ABA grants advance DOL’s efforts “to expand, diversify and modernize registered apprenticeship by increasing the number of programs and apprentices, diversifying the industries that use the “earn-as-you-learn” model for workforce development, and improving the access and performance of the programs in underrepresented and underserved communities.” The awards ranged from $2 million to $8 million over a five-year grant period.

Funding was awarded in four categories:

-- State Apprenticeship System Building and Modernization ($18.6 million)
-- Expansion of registered apprenticeship Program Opportunities for Youth ($29.9 million)
-- Ensuring Equitable RAP Pathways through Pre-Apprenticeship Leading to RAP enrollment and Equity Partnerships ($35 million)
-- Registered apprenticeship Hubs to help employers design, develop, and deliver RAPs and facilitate the establishment, scaling, and expansion of RAPs ($88.3 million)

Grant funds are authorized by the National Apprenticeship Act for the Apprenticeship Building America (ABA) grant program.

Although the evidence base on apprenticeship in the U.S. is growing, there are still several key knowledge gaps that are ripe for rigorous evaluations and evidence-building. Policymakers, researchers, evaluators, and practitioners are generally persuaded that apprenticeship has positive net benefits, but the study is needed to build more evidence on how states can build sustainable apprenticeship infrastructure; how to broaden access to and success of youth in apprenticeship; how pre-apprenticeship is being used to increase access to and outcomes of registered apprenticeship; and how hub intermediaries can be most effectively employed to increase the number of apprenticeships and apprentices. Impact analysis of the pre-apprenticeships in ABA is needed to better understand what role pre-apprenticeship plays in improving access to and outcomes of registered apprenticeship, especially for those groups traditionally underrepresented in apprenticeship.  

The data collected through the activities summarized in this request will inform:

-- An implementation study of strategies for state apprenticeship system building and modernization
-- An implementation study of strategies to expand opportunities for youth served by registered apprenticeship programs and strategies for equitable apprenticeship pathways through pre-apprenticeships leading to a registered apprenticeship
-- An implementation study of registered apprenticeship hubs
-- An impact and cost-benefit evaluability assessment of pre-apprenticeship programs that lead to registered apprenticeship programs.

Registered Apprenticeship Initiatives Evaluation: https://www.dol.gov/agencies/oasp/evaluation/currentstudies/Registered_Apprenticeship_Initiatives_Evaluation
DOL submission to OMB: https://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/PRAViewICR?ref_nbr=202310-1290-001 Click IC List for information collection instrument, View Supporting Statement for technical documentation. Submit comments through this webpage.
FRN: https://www.federalregister.gov/d/2024-00840

For AEA members wishing to submit comments, "A Primer on How to Respond to Calls for Comment on Federal Data Collections" is available at https://www.aeaweb.org/content/file?id=5806

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