Learn more about JFF
Learn more about JFF

Braided and Adaptive Funding

Well-established apprenticeship programs must find ways to cover a variety of operating costs to offer consistent and reliable access to training and employment opportunities (for apprentices) and talent (for employers). These costs include expenditures in the following areas:

  • Program design and administration, including program staff wages and benefits; costs associated with fundraising, marketing, and outreach; and various startup and one-time expenses

  • Related instruction, including costs related to the development and delivery of training and certification programs and materials, and expenses incurred in the licensing of training programs

  • Structured on-the-job training, including the costs incurred in training mentors and documenting and reporting participants’ skill gains and training hours (this category does not include apprentices’ wages, which are paid by the participating employers)

  • Equipment and supplies for apprentices, such as tools, computers, uniforms, and safety equipment

  • Training-related supports for apprentices, such as tutoring, coaching, or other services

  • Wraparound supports for apprentices, such as services for those who need help finding and paying for childcare and transportation, or emergency assistance

  • Rent, technology, software subscriptions, labs, and office supplies

  • Other non-personnel-related needs, such as insurance for the program or hosting organizations

These costs are typical for mature programs during periods of economic stability, and they are rarely supported by single programs or grants—even those aimed at building apprenticeship programs. And organizations developing new and emerging apprenticeship programs should anticipate additional expenses, such as the cost of the time staff spend cultivating or enhancing relationships with employers.

Moreover, even when the country isn’t during a pandemic, programs will often experience periods of instability. Challenges that are likely to arise include funding cuts resulting from a change in leadership, a key employer’s sudden decision to withdraw from the program, or a crisis within local educational institutions or communities.

Apprenticeship programs can be more challenging to finance than most other workforce programs because of their quality, duration, and systemic nature. They involve both work and learning, and they build professional skills leading to jobs and careers. They are at the intersection of education, the workforce, and business, and therefore require significant planning and coordination across all those sectors. As a result, even though they have the potential to be self-supporting once they are well established, apprenticeship programs are costly in the early years. This means that new programs face big challenges because they often must put a considerable amount of time, money, and other resources into getting an apprenticeship up and running and then struggle to sustain themselves long enough for costs to flatten.

Programs have employed several strategies, including the three listed below, to address those challenges and stabilize their short- and long-term funding arrangements. Click below to read more about these strategies and see how they look in action.




Guiding Questions

Have you comprehensively mapped all program costs?

  • Have you included all instructional and educational materials costs, as well as all workplace training and equipment costs?
  • Have you included administrative costs?
  • Have you included the costs of all supplemental and supportive services?
  • Have you included all expenses that aren’t related to staffing, including the costs of rent, infrastructure, and insurance?

Have you mapped the resource landscape?

  • Have you engaged current and potential partner organizations who can pay for a portion of program costs?
  • Are you monitoring for changes in the funding landscape?
  • Are you establishing partnerships that could broaden the funding base (e.g., through new grants) for your program?