A Descriptive Analysis of the U.S. Department of Labor's Long-Term Care Registered Apprenticeship Programs. 2. Methodology


The findings in this report were developed by analyzing administrative data on apprentices and apprenticeship programs collected by the OA from employers, employer associations and labor-management organizations that sponsor apprenticeship programs. Staff from sponsoring programs enters data into an Oracle relational database system called the Registered Apprenticeship Partners Information Data System (RAPIDS). Data are updated as apprentices begin their apprenticeships and complete competency-level trainings, but may be updated at other times as well (particularly for the time-based apprenticeships). OA staff review and approve the information entered into RAPIDS. For this report, several apprenticeship sponsors provided information on the administrative data entry process to further understanding of the data.

The RAPIDS database contains information on apprenticeship programs of any type (not exclusively LTC RAPs) in 34 states, of which 25 are federally administered and nine are administered by SAAs (Exhibit 5). Twenty-seven of these states did have LTC RAPs in the data analyzed for this report. The remaining SAA/state-administered states (Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Puerto Rico, Vermont, Virginia, Virgin Islands, Washington, and Wisconsin) do not provide data to the national RAPIDS database, so the database is not a reflection of LTC RAPs in the nation.

EXHIBIT 5. States Providing Data to National RAPIDS Database
OA/Federally Administered States   SSA/State-Administered States  
North Dakota  
New Hampshire  
South Carolina
New Jersey
South Dakota  
West Virginia
Rhode Island  

For this report, OA staff provided an extract from RAPIDS of all apprentices and employer sponsors (hereinafter known as “programs”) in long-term care occupations over a 5-year period, from 2005-2009. Data provided included information on entry-level, advanced, and specialty training within occupations registered with the DOL as “apprenticeable.”1 The occupations covered include CNA, DSS, HSS, and HHA. This report examines 3,744 records of individual apprentices who started their apprenticeship between January 2005 and December 2009. These apprentices were in 121 unique programs. The data allow analysis at the apprentice-level as well as the program-level.

The data in this report provide a profile of long-term care apprentices, programs, and employers. The apprentice characteristics include age, sex, race, ethnicity, educational attainment, and the current enrollment status of an apprentice in an apprenticeship (registered currently, completed, cancelled, or suspended). Program characteristics include duration of the on-the-job and related instruction components of the apprenticeship (in hours), the source/mode of related instruction, and whether the apprenticeship was a competency-based program involving no specific time requirement for completion, or a time-based program involving learning of competencies in a fixed number of hours. Although RAPIDS includes data on each training level received, in cases where one person undertakes more than one training (e.g., a competency-based program with an interim credential), the analysis of apprentices includes only the individual’s most recent training. Employer information includes workforce size, program size, number of affiliated sites, whether the program is a national program, region of the employer, duration of the program, and the source/mode of related instruction.

These analyses portray the types of workers, mix of programs, and types of employers involved in long-term care apprenticeships. We present findings on counts of apprentices, and proportions or means of these apprentice and program characteristics. As the report’s purpose is to present a descriptive overview of the LTC RAP, we do not include tests of statistical significance.

For some items that were available for analysis, there are missing or questionable data. This was an especially severe problem for wage data. Sometimes, instead of entering actual wage rates, sponsors enter wage rates that were specified in an apprentice’s agreement with their employer, which may not be the true wage the apprentice receives. In addition, the collection of wage and other data is not the sponsor’s primary concern so obtaining accurate wage data often requires a time commitment that OA and SAA field staff cannot afford. Consequently, the wage data appeared inaccurate or inconsistent upon analysis. For these reasons, we do not present findings from that analysis because the data appears to be unreliable.

To understand the quality of wage and other data as well as the data entry process, we interviewed staff from two program sponsors responsible for the RAPIDS data entry process at their organization. These brief interviews were conducted using a general discussion guide to glean information on the same topics across program sponsors, such as who entered data and how often, problems experienced in doing so, and what improvements were needed in RAPIDS. We present summary findings of these interviews in the next section to inform the presentation of our analyses of RAPIDS data.

DOL previously consolidated information about occupational competencies (e.g., knowledge, skills, and abilities) described in this report in “work process schedules.” Work process schedules are detailed documents ranging from three to ten pages in length that contain information regarding OJT and related instruction for each competency. Information from these documents is included to illustrate the variety of specific trainings (e.g., advanced CNA training) within the four major occupations.

  EXHIBIT 6. LTC RAP Occupational Competency Trainings and RAPIDS Codes  
Competency Trainings   RAPIDS Code*  
Certified Nurse Assistant (CNA)
   CNA Entry-Level 824
   CNA Entry-Level 824C or CB
   CNA Advanced 824A
   CNA Specialty: Restorative 824R
   CNA Specialty: Dementia 824D
   CNA Specialty: Geriatrics 824G
   CNA Specialty: Mentor 824M
Home Health Aide (HHA)
   HHA Entry-Level 1086
   HHA Entry-Level 1086CB
   HHA Specialty: Disability 1086A
   HHA Specialty: Hospice and Palliative Care   1086B
   HHA Specialty: Dementia Care 1086D
   HHA Specialty: Mentor 1086E
Health Support Specialist (HSS)
   HSS Entry-Level and Specialty Training 1086AA
Direct Support Specialist (DSS)
   DSS Entry-Level 1040
   DSS Entry-Level 1040CB
* Codes without a letter suffix designate time-based apprenticeships.

Apprenticeable Long-Term Care Trainings: OA, DOL/ETA.

Each occupation and competency training within an occupation is identified in RAPIDS using a system of codes. Codes containing only numbers are trainings for time-based apprenticeships, while codes with lettered suffixes pertain to competency-based apprenticeship trainings. Exhibit 6 presents the list of RAPIDS training codes for specific competencies for all four LTC occupations . Even though HSSs working in assisted living facilities or retirement homes have seven specialty trainings, RAPIDS contains only one code (1086AA) for any type of training for this occupation. We analyzed RAPIDS data first across all competency trainings within each of the four occupations, and then for each competency training within each occupation.

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