Public Service Apprenticeships Grow Around the Country

Public service shortages and increased apprenticeship resources have increased local government participation.

The United States has a strong tradition of apprenticeships in the trades and service industries. Still, it has lagged behind its European counterparts in applying the workforce development strategy to the public sector. The COVID-19 pandemic, however, has changed the American approach to apprenticeships as the public sector struggles to hire and retain talented workers. Increased federal resources, combined with the public sector crisis, are leading many states and local governments to deploy the apprenticeship model to fill critical vacancies and develop the next generation of public servants.

Route Fifty recently reported on the growing model:

While public sector apprenticeships have long flourished in other countries like Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Switzerland and Australia, the vast majority of U.S. cities, counties and states have done little in the past to promote this kind of formal job training approach for their own employees.

But registered apprenticeships are finally beginning to gain traction in state and local governments. There have been dramatic increases in funding and in appreciation that apprenticeships are a powerful means for providing experience and mastery of needed skills. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the number of apprentices in both the public and private sectors rose 64% between 2012 and 2021, with continued growth likely due to workplace shortages and massive training needs.


The Maryland Department of Labor (MDL) recently received $6.6 million through the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration to help expand apprenticeships throughout the state. Maryland was one of only seven states to receive a competitive award under the program and received the second-highest award overall.

Registered apprenticeship is a proven model of workforce development that combines related technical instruction with full-time employment and on-the-job training under the direct supervision of a qualified professional.

MACo and Maryland’s 24 counties are working with the legislature, state leaders, and other stakeholders to strengthen the local government workforce and improve the pipeline into county government.

MACo submitted a letter of recommendation on behalf of MDL’s apprenticeship grant application in support of public service pipeline apprenticeships. Additionally, MACo was tapped to participate in policy development workshops with the Maryland Department of Labor to inform policy development for the state’s Public Sector Registered Apprenticeship Innovation Fund.

Read the Route Fifty article.

At the MACo Winter Conference session, “Closing the Gap: Filling Vacancies, Fostering Workplace Cohesion,” county and state leaders will examine challenges in hiring and retaining the next generation of county government public servants and how to foster workplace cohesion between the “old” and “new” generations.

Learn more about MACo’s Winter Conference: