A Descriptive Analysis of the U.S. Department of Labor's Long-Term Care Registered Apprenticeship Programs. 4.1. Apprentice-Level Findings


Over the 5-year analysis period from January 2005 to December 2009, there were 3,744 apprentices (of which 1,445 apprentices are currently active (registered)) representing four broad occupations -- CNAs, DSSs, HSSs and HHAs. While age distributions varied across occupations, a majority of apprentices were age 30 and older (although a majority of apprentices in the CNA and HHA occupations were under age 30).

In comparison to national data such as the National Nursing Assistant Survey and the National Home Health Aide Survey, RAPIDS data show that apprentices are considerably younger, less educated and include more males than CNAs and HHAs working in the field nationally. Generally, it appears that apprenticeships for these two occupations are functioning as an early/entry career training program for people just starting out rather than for retraining of existing workers. No similar comparison data are available for DSSs and HSSs, both of which lack a clear set of national training requirements. Therefore, apprenticeships for these latter occupations may be serving as a type of credentialing in the absence of formal national training requirements.

Most of the apprentices are female, but there is a higher representation of males among DSSs, perhaps because persons with intellectual disabilities have a higher proportion of male clients, potentially necessitating a larger male presence in facilities serving this population. It may also be related to the fact that direct support work in this occupation involves less hands-on personal care.

Generally, apprentices comprise a group with low educational attainment. Apprentices rarely have college education and high proportions of some occupations did not complete high school, not surprising given that these are low-wage jobs. Again, comparisons to the National Nursing Assistant Survey and the National Home Health Aide Survey demonstrate that apprentices have lower levels of education than CNAs and HHAs working in nursing facilities and home health agencies nationally. In part, apprentices may be participating in apprenticeships to try to compensate for their lack of formal education.

LTC RAPs provide training to many minorities. RAPIDS analyses show that apprenticeship programs manage to recruit a relatively diverse group of people; overall, 30% are non-White or Hispanic. There is substantial variation in terms of diversity across occupations: the CNA occupation attracts the most diverse group of apprentices compared to DSSs that enroll the least diverse group of apprentices.

A key issue for these programs is the proportion of apprentices completing training versus the proportion who has cancelled their participation. Since January 2005, over 27% of workers in the data have completed an apprenticeship, versus 34% who have cancelled their involvement over time. Even in calendar year 2009 alone, more than twice as many apprentices had cancelled their participation (18%) as those who completed their training (7%) although not everyone who may have started in 2009 may have had enough time to potentially complete it by year’s end.

Among CNAs and DSSs, who together account for the large majority of apprentices in the data, although one-third of apprentices in each occupation have completed their training, one-third in each occupation has cancelled their training. Only 13% of HHAs had completed their training, coupled with a very high proportion of cancelled trainings (62%). It is troubling that the proportion of cancellations is at least as high or higher than the proportion of completions. Long-term care workers have a very high turnover rate, partly because of low wages. The wage rates in LTC RAPs are still low, so it is not surprising that many do not complete training. An issue for a future evaluation is how well apprentices compare to non-apprentices on measures such as turnover.

The apprenticeships average 2,100 hours in length, approximately one year, which includes about 200 hours of related instruction, which is offered by the employer for about three-quarters of participants. This level of related instruction is far beyond the minimum federal training requirements of 75 hours for CNAs and HHAs. Although many states mandate more than 75 hours, they do not reach the 200 hours of related instruction that is required under the LTC RAP.

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