Registered Apprenticeship Programs (RAP) for Teachers Are Making the Grade

Registered Apprenticeship Programs (RAP) for Teachers Are Making the Grade

Last updated on June 13th, 2024

In 2021, New York became one of the first states to approve a Registered Apprenticeship Program (RAP) for K-12 teachers. Three years later, RAPs are growing in number, with a variety of support and resources available to get programs off the ground and reap their proven results.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 86% of public schools reported difficulties hiring teachers at the start of the 2023-2024 school year; however, the percentage of schools that felt understaffed as compared to a year earlier had dropped from 52% to 45% (which is still a high percentage). So, while the teacher recruitment crunch may be easing ever-so-slightly for now, the need for a skilled talent pipeline remains.

According to the New York State Educator Workforce Development HUB – a technical assistance program funded by a U.S. DOL Apprenticeship Building America grant, 33% of New York teachers are eligible to retire in the next five years; 30% to 50% of new teachers leave the profession within the first five years; and there has been a 53% decline in teacher preparation program enrollment within the last decade.

To help turn the tide, the HUB provides technical and networking support to help districts/BOCES build and launch RAPs. In general, RAPs may provide teacher apprentices a living wage, tuition reimbursement, and other support during a one- to two-year residency that provides on-the-job training with a district teacher (who may get paid a little extra for their mentorship work). Ultimately, this has been proven to strengthen a diverse talent pipeline, increase teacher retention, and save time and money on recruiting and hiring.

RAPs are proving themselves to be so effective for teaching talent that in 2023, the DOL approved the nation’s first K-12 Principal Apprenticeship Program (PAP). A PAP can help districts build a future leadership pipeline at a time when there’s concern about increasing turnover, which has been linked to staff retention and student outcomes. The first approved PAP’s participants will work for a year as an assistant principal while preparing to earn their license. What’s more, annual DOL funding per apprentice may be available annually.

As apprenticeship programs expand across professions, the Federal government is looking to clarify its role, along with state roles. At the end of last year, the U.S. Department of Labor proposed a rule to modernize registered apprenticeships by strengthening labor standards, worker protections, and the promotion of apprenticeship pathways. No doubt, more is to come.

If you are interested in learning more, starting a RAP, or exploring funding, the following are some resources that may be of value:

  • The New York State Educator Workforce Development HUB offers free resources to all stakeholders, including an ROI calculator, a guidance workbook, and a list of approved residencies.
  • Perkins V funds, offered via the Office of Postsecondary Access, Support, and Success of the State Education Department, can be used to develop and support registered apprenticeship programs. The application period is open through June 28.
  • ApprenticeshipUSA, a U.S. government website, has information about creating and registering a teacher apprenticeship program, youth apprenticeship programs, and more.
  • National Center for Grow Your Own, a non-profit that assists state and local education agencies with “Grow Your Own” programs, including apprenticeships.

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