The International Foundation just released Top Trends in Apprenticeship Programs—2024 Survey Results, the 8th iteration of their apprenticeship program benchmarking survey. In addition to focusing on trends, such as individual and program challenges, life skills, and partnerships, this iteration takes a deep dive into program mental health initiatives. Topics include the prevalence mental health/substance use disorder conditions, the impact of those conditions, as well as offered benefits at the union/employer and apprenticeship program level. The key findings below reflect responses from 135 U.S. and Canadian apprenticeship programs.

Prevalence of Conditions

As concern about the growth of mental health conditions increases, apprenticeship programs, as well as sponsoring unions and employers, are emphasizing awareness and education about apprentice mental health issues and SUDs. Respondents identified the following conditions as the most (very or somewhat) prevalent among apprentices.

  • Adult hyperactivity and attention deficit disorder (ADHD/ADD): 79%
  • Anxiety disorders: 77%
  • Depression: 77%
  • Alcohol addiction/use disorder: 76%
  • Nonprescription drug addiction/SUD (heroin, cocaine, etc.): 64%
  • PTSD: 54%

Among these conditions, alcohol addiction/use disorder had the highest “very prevalent” rating at 24%, followed nonprescription drug addiction/SUD (17%), depression (15%) and anxiety disorders (14%).

Impact of Mental Health/SUD Issues

This wide array of mental health conditions has had a considerable impact (very or somewhat impactful) on several components of apprentice performance. Nearly nine in ten programs (85%) said MH/SUDs often cause absenteeism and tardiness and that they are either very or somewhat impactful on overall job performance. Relationships with co-workers (82%) are another significantly impacted area of performance, followed by:

  • Morale (78%)
  • Presenteeism (78%)
  • Worker physical health (73%)
  • Safety/accidents (59%).

Benefit Offerings

Responding programs were asked which benefits they offered in number of categories, including treatment programs, education and awareness initiatives, return-to-work programs, and preventive programs.

Treatment Programs

All responding programs provide apprentices with referrals to community services from either their union, employer or training program, while the majority of programs have support groups on site (54% at the union/employer level and 26% at the apprenticeship program level). Support meetings may be hosted by Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous or other organizations.

Education and Awareness Programs

The most frequently offered education and awareness initiatives at the union/employer level are:

  • Access to online resources and tools (75%)
  • Worksite education/information sessions (73%)
  • Information posted in paper format or online (72%)
  • Formal suicide prevention training (61%)
  • Mental health-specific newsletters to apprentices 57%)
  • Mental health crisis training (57%)
  • Supervisor training: (38%)
  • Positive Jobsite Culture (PJC) training—a program designed to reduce worksite bullying and hazing (33%).

Return-to-Work Programs

After a MH/SUD crisis occurs, responding programs are sponsoring initiatives to facilitate an effective return to the job or training site. Two in five (47%) programs offer communication preparation at the union/employer level; supervisors and co-workers receive tips to better communicate with the returning worker. This initiative is also frequently offered at the individual training program level. In addition, a large proportion of programs (45%) have planned communication with the returning worker, both before and after they return to work. Other common return-to-work practices include:

  • Offering workers light duty for a determined period (40%)
  • Allowing workers to return on a flexible schedule (34%)
  • Providing the manager or supervisor with education before the worker returns (27%).

Preventive Programs

Employee assistance programs/labor assistance programs/employee and family assistance programs (EAPs/LAPs/EFAPs) are the most prevalent program for preventing mental health issues, offered by more than four in five apprenticeship programs at the union/employer levels. An additional percentage offers these programs at the individual training program level. A majority of respondents include a mental health component with their wellness plan at the union/employer level (57%). Other common preventive programs are:

  • Incorporating mental health assessments into apprentice health risk assessments (45%)
  • Stress management programs at the union/employer level (31%).

Top Trends in Apprenticeship Programs: 2024 Survey Results is available free to members at www.ifebp.org/apprenticeship.

Justin Held, CEBS

Senior Research Analyst at the International Foundation

Favorite Foundation Service: Foundation Research Surveys

 

Benefits Related Topics That Interest Him Most: Behavioral economics, socially responsible investing, apprenticeship training

 

Personal Insight: Justin loves everything baseball, visiting and checking off ballparks as he travels. In this free time, he enjoys hiking at national parks, cycling and reading about U.S. history.

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