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  • Writer's pictureProject on Workforce Team

Workforce Training Q&A for Leaders and Policymakers


The following content comes from The Workforce Almanac: A System-Level View of U.S. Workforce Training Providers. This working paper describes the Workforce Almanac, a new open-source directory of nearly 17,000 workforce training providers across the United States. This dataset offers ​​the most comprehensive view to date of U.S. workforce training providers, including provider names, locations, and types. To create this Almanac, the team combined training provider information from four distinct sources into one new dataset, capturing federal Registered Apprenticeship providers, nonprofit providers, Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA)-eligible training providers, and higher education providers.


👉 Check out these related resources from The Project on Workforce:
  • The Workforce Almanac Data Portal: Mapping the workforce development sector. The Almanac is an interactive directory offering a comprehensive view of ~17,000 workforce training providers across the United States.


How are different regions and states served by different types of workforce training providers?


These are the summarized findings from the Workforce Almanac working paper:



National Findings Workforce Training Providers


Key takeaway: Of the nearly 17,000 workforce training providers in the U.S., two-thirds are not eligible for federal WIOA funding.

In the U.S., there are approximately 16,781 workforce training providers, distributed fairly evenly among four types. The largest category consists of WIOA-eligible providers, constituting about one-third of the total. This indicates that a significant portion of providers operate outside the federally-funded WIOA system, although many still receive federal funding through other means, such as tax exemptions. Institutions of higher education and nonprofits are the most common recipients of such funding. Registered Apprenticeships make up the smallest group. Nationally, there are approximately five WIOA-eligible providers, three job training nonprofits, two and a half institutions of higher education, and two Registered Apprenticeship programs per 100,000 people in the labor force. The vast majority (96%) of workforce training providers specialize in just one type, while the remainder often appear in both IPEDS and TPR, indicating that they are institutions of higher education that also qualify as WIOA-eligible.



Regional Findings Workforce Training Providers


Key takeaway: The Midwest and Northeast are most served by workforce training providers.

In terms of the ratio of providers to 100k people in the labor force, the Northeast is the most served, and the South is the least served (Table 6). However, in terms of the ratio of providers to 100k unemployed people, the Midwest is the most served, and the West is the least served.



State Findings on Workforce Training Providers


Key takeaway: The number and types of workforce training providers vary widely by U.S. state and territory.

At the state level, the concentration of workforce training providers varies much more widely than at the regional level (Table 7). For example, in Maine, there are 32.4 workforce training providers per 100k people in the labor force, while there are only 6.3 in Connecticut. Additionally, each U.S. state has a slightly different makeup of workforce training providers serving their communities (Figure 3). Some states, such as Massachusetts, rely heavily on Registered Apprenticeships, while others, such as Maine and Alaska, have more access to WIOA-eligible providers. Furthermore, some states, such as Kentucky and Pennsylvania, are relatively balanced in terms of the number of each type of provider.



Institutions of Higher Education Findings


Key takeaway: U.S. regions have relatively equal ratios of institutions of higher education—that primarily provide short-term workforce training—to 100k in the labor force.


The South has the highest ratio per 100k people in the labor force and unemployed populations. The Midwest has the lowest ratio of institutions of higher education that primarily provide short-term workforce training to every 100k unemployed people. Most U.S. states and territories have a ratio of between 1 and 3 institutions of higher education—per 100k people in the labor force—that primarily provide short-term workforce training, although a small number have more (Figure 4). West Virginia has the most institutions of higher education that primarily provide short-term workforce training per 100k people in the labor force, 5 times that of Alaska, the state with the fewest, and more than double the national average of 2.5.



WIOA-Eligible Provider Findings


Key takeaway: The Midwest is most served by WIOA-eligible providers, and Maine has more WIOA-eligible providers than any other state.

The Midwest has the highest ratio of WIOA-eligible providers to 100k people in the labor force and unemployed populations, while the South has the lowest ratio of WIOA-eligible providers. The majority of U.S. states and territories have a ratio of between 1 and 5 WIOA-eligible providers per 100k people in the labor force, although a small number have more (Figure 5). Maine has the highest ratio of WIOA-eligible providers to 100k people in the labor force –nearly 22 times that of Hawaii, the state with the lowest ratio, and 5 times the national average. WIOA funds many different types of workforce training providers. Almost half of WIOA-eligible providers in the United States with sufficient data for categorization are private for-profit organizations. More than 1 in 3 are higher education institutions, and almost 1 in 5 are either apprenticeships or job-training nonprofits (Figure 6).



Job Training Nonprofit Findings


Key takeaway: The South is most served by job training nonprofit organizations, and the District of Columbia has the highest ratio of job training nonprofits per 100k in the labor force among U.S. states and territories.

The South has the largest ratio of nonprofits to 100k in the labor force and unemployed populations (Table 12). Conversely, the Northeast has the lowest number of job training nonprofits in relative terms. Most states and territories have a ratio of up to 5 job training nonprofits per 100k in the labor force (Figure 4). However, the District of Columbia has over 16 job training nonprofits to 100k in the labor force—about 3.5 times more than Maryland, the state with the second highest ratio, and 13 times more than Kansas, the state with the lowest ratio (Table 13). Furthermore, many states in the central U.S.—including Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota, New Mexico, South Dakota, Oklahoma, and Iowa—have fewer than 2 job training nonprofits per 100k people in the labor force. This is lower than the national mean of 3.



Apprenticeship Program Sponsor Findings


Key takeaway: The Northeast is most served by Registered Apprenticeships. Massachusetts has the highest absolute number of Registered Apprenticeships and the highest ratio of Registered Apprenticeships to 100k people in both the labor force and unemployed populations.

The majority of states have a ratio of fewer than 3 Registered Apprenticeships to 100k in their labor force (Figure 8). Massachusetts is the most-served state with more than double the ratio of providers to 100k people in the labor force (11.3) and unemployed population (372.7), than the state with the next highest ratio—Rhode Island (4.9 and 138.1, respectively). While adjusting for population helps us obtain a more complete picture of how well a state or territory is served by Registered Apprenticeships, the absolute number can also give us an indication of training choice and opportunity for workers and learners. For example, Massachusetts’ highest absolute number of Registered Apprenticeships is one and a half times that of California, the state with the second most. On the other hand, South Dakota only has four Registered Apprenticeships, and Connecticut, a Massachusetts neighbor, only has eight.



What is workforce training?


The U.S. workforce training and development system is extensive, covering various industries and skill levels, catering to diverse groups, and employing numerous program and funding approaches. It encompasses entities such as workforce training providers, boards, philanthropic backers, one-stop centers, and intermediaries. Its primary objectives are twofold: assisting individuals in navigating the job market and securing employment, and delivering training to enhance their job-related skills.


👉 Check out these other Skills-Related Resources from The Project on Workforce:


What is a workforce training provider?


Workforce training providers offer short-term, (i.e., less than two years) post-high school opportunities (i.e., the maximum requirement is a high school diploma) where learners gain work-relevant skills in service of job attainment. Working directly with learners to develop work-relevant skills, these organizations or institutions include community colleges, community-based organizations, for-profit private training providers, technical colleges, social impact organizations, industry associations, unions, company-provided training, and occasionally state and local governments. Though they vary in many ways, these providers share four core characteristics, including:


Credential Type: Where credentials are offered, they must have the capacity to stand alone without further programming. Such credentials include certificates, applied associate’s degrees, certifications, and occupational licenses completed as a culmination of programming.


Length: Training has a direct application to job attainment and is no more than two years duration (full-time).


Prerequisites: ​Training must require no more education than a high school diploma.


Intent: Workforce training must be designed with the intent to prepare learners to secure a job. The intention of the training is to ensure that learners can, theoretically, find a job related to the field of training without further development. While the learner's intention is undoubtedly important, the provider's intention is the defining characteristic. Providers that offer training aimed primarily at "lifelong learning" are not included in our definition, unless their intent is upskilling or reskilling in service of job attainment.



What is WIOA, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act?


The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), enacted in 2014, is federal legislation that aims to enhance the U.S. public workforce system, assisting a wide range of Americans, including youth and those facing employment barriers, in securing quality jobs and careers. WIOA emphasizes aligning state programs to meet the needs of job seekers and employers, fostering accountability, transparency, and regional collaboration. The Act involves partnerships between the U.S. Department of Labor and other federal agencies to provide support and resources to states, localities, nonprofits, and stakeholders.



What are WIOA programs?


The Employment and Training Administration oversees various programs established by the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), catering to specific vulnerable demographics such as dislocated workers, Native Americans, youth, and more. These programs, including Job Corps, YouthBuild, and others, offer career and training services, including job search assistance and workforce preparation. They also provide training opportunities, both in classrooms and through work-based learning, benefiting both job seekers and businesses in finding skilled workers. These services are accessible through approximately 2,400 nationwide One-Stop Career Centers.



What is IPEDS, the Integrated Postsecondary Database System?


IPEDS is a series of surveys carried out annually by the National Center for Education Statistics within the U.S. Department of Education. It collects data from all higher education institutions, including colleges, universities, and technical or vocational schools, that are part of federal student financial aid programs. Mandated by the Higher Education Act of 1965, institutions are required to provide data on enrollments, program completions, graduation rates, faculty and staff details, financial status, institutional costs, and student financial aid.



How is IPEDS Data used?


IPEDS offers fundamental data necessary for describing and tracking trends in postsecondary education across the United States, covering aspects like student enrollment, staffing, financial expenditures, and degree attainment. Various stakeholders including Congress, federal agencies, state governments, educational institutions, professional organizations, businesses, media, students, and parents depend on IPEDS data for obtaining essential information about postsecondary institutions.

The Workforce Almanac utilized a subsection of IPEDS that captures primarily non-degree-granting institutions and institutions that confer a majority of their credentials at the sub-baccalaureate level. Most of these institutions are community colleges and technical colleges. We included public, private nonprofit, and private for-profit institutions that meet these criteria. We filtered for providers that IPEDS classifies as "Non-degree-granting, sub-baccalaureate", "Degree-granting, Associate's and certificates", and "Degree-granting, not primarily baccalaureate or above."



What is RAPIDS, the Registered Apprenticeship Partners Information Database System?


The Department of Labor apprenticeship system maintains a list of federal Registered Apprenticeships— regulated apprenticeship programs that aim to provide career pathways in high-demand fields for workers in “apprenticeable occupations.” Registered Apprenticeships are approved by the Department of Labor or State Apprenticeship Agencies and must be industry-vetted and paid. These structured on-the-job learning opportunities are supplemented with classroom-based education, resulting in an industry-recognized credential for apprentices. Registered Apprenticeships may be operated by employers, unions, community colleges, business associations, community-based organizations, workforce investment boards, or occasionally state and local governments. Registered Apprenticeships are commonly found in fields such as construction, manufacturing, health care, utilities, and transportation. Apprenticeships differ from other paid work-based learning opportunities through occupation type, hourly requirements, integration of classroom training, and culmination in an industry-recognized credential.

The Workforce Almanac includes all Registered Apprenticeship providers that are multi-employer and have active apprentices and an active status (as opposed to "canceled") as cataloged by the Department of Labor’s RAPIDS apprentice and program datasets. Becoming a Registered Apprenticeship provider offers a platform for posting job openings, a structure for providing training options to workers, and, in some states, tax credits and employee tuition benefits.



What is TPR, Training Provider Results?

TPR is a new dataset, created by the U.S. Department of Labor, which aggregates a national list of WIOA-eligible training providers across U.S. states and territories. A state or local workforce development board must authorize a training provider for it to appear in this dataset. Workers can use federal vouchers (Individual Training Accounts) to pay to enroll in programming from approved providers. TPR includes some higher education institutions, national apprenticeships, private nonprofits, and public training providers. Importantly, TPR also includes some private for-profit training providers, which are unavailable in other publicly-available datasets apart from for-profit postsecondary institutions in IPEDS.


The Workforce Almanac includes all TPR providers, except for some postsecondary institutions that primarily offer bachelor’s degrees.




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Suggested Citation


Alexis Gable, Tessa Forshaw, Rachel Lipson, and Nathalie Gazzaneo. (Fall 2023). The Workforce Almanac: A System-Level View of U.S Workforce Training Providers. https://www.pw.hks.harvard.edu/post/workforce-almanac-2023



About the Authors


Alexis Gable is the Workforce Almanac Data Lead at the Project on Workforce at Harvard's Malcolm Wiener Center for Social Policy.


Tessa Forshaw is the Workforce Almanac Research Lead at the Project on Workforce at Harvard's Malcolm Wiener Center for Social Policy.


Rachel Lipson is the former Founder and Director at the Project on Workforce at Harvard’s Malcolm Wiener Center for Social Policy.


Nathalie Gazzaneo is the Co-Director of the Project on Workforce at Harvard’s Malcolm Wiener Center for Social Policy.



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