Life Skills Training Rounds Off Apprenticeship Education

Have you ever looked back at your high school years and wished that some of your course work had been a bit more practical? When I entered college, I knew the Pythagorean theorem but didn’t know the most effective way to communicate with a supervisor. I understood photosynthesis but was unaware of how much or even what kind of insurance I needed. I was able to describe the difference between a sine and cosine, but had little knowledge of how to register to vote. Luckily, apprenticeship program stakeholders are aware of these issues and have been incorporating these types of life skills into their curricula for years.

Life Skills Training Rounds Off Apprenticeship Education

The International Foundation has surveyed apprenticeship stakeholders across the U.S. and Canada since 2010, gathering insights on a number of trends impacting their plans, including program challenges, apprentice challenges, recruitment and retention initiatives, communication strategies and instructor quality initiatives. In recent years, Foundation stakeholders have communicated the need for benchmarking data for apprentice life skills initiatives. Life skills initiatives are a key component of a well-rounded education for apprentices. These skills extend beyond job-related duties and are focused on the personal development of apprentices. Here are some of our findings:

More than three in five (60.6%) responding programs offer these types of skills training, with an additional 18.0% considering adding such components in the future. Programs that offer life skills training overwhelmingly use face-to-face delivery models for their training (97.1%), with an additional two in three (68.6%) using electronic learning models.

Programs that offer life skills training typically address a variety of components. The most commonly cited were work skills/behavior (84.3%), mathematical (83.1%), personal safety (75.6%), leadership (72.1%) and financial literacy (70.9%) skills. More than one-half of programs that offer life skills training address communication/social skills (64.0%), union citizenship (63.4%) and computer/technology skills (56.4%). Other commonly offered skills include:

  • Mentor/mentee skills—42.4%
  • Addiction services—41.9%
  • Diversity training—39.5%
  • Personal health—30.2%
  • Literacy skills—24.4%
  • Transportation needs—13.4%
  • Mental health initiatives—12.8%
  • Citizenship skills—12.2%
  • Household management—11.6%

Programs that offer financial literacy initiatives were asked about the elements that are included in their initiatives. Most commonly, these include budgeting/spending plans (86.1%), savings (59.8%), borrowing/loans (55.7%), credit cards (54.9%), annuities (48.4%) and managing a bank account/checkbook (44.3%). A number of other topics are addressed, including insurance (40.2%), spending (39.3%), retirement plan benefits (29.5%), investment management and asset allocation (27.0%), avoiding scams/identity theft (26.2%), interest/compounding (25.4%) and preretirement financial planning (25.4%).

For more information and to read the full survey report, visit

Justin Held, CEBS
Senior Research Analyst at the International Foundation 

Justin Held, CEBS

Senior Research Analyst at the International Foundation Favorite Foundation service: Research Surveys Benefits related topics that interests him most: Health care economics, the Affordable Care Act, apprenticeship training Favorite Foundation Conference Event: Lowell Catlett’s economic updates Personal Insight: Justin loves everything baseball, visiting and checking off ballparks as he travels. He can shake any bad mood caused by a Brewers’ loss by going for a good long run.

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