The Bridges Center’s Research Team is proud to release “Building Futures: Pre-Apprenticeship in Construction and Beyond.” In this report, we explore the role of pre-apprenticeship in creating more equitable pathways for underrepresented workers in the construction industry - specifically workers who identify as Black, Indigenous, people of color, women, and gender non-conforming. Our research includes employment data for Washington state and its construction industry, information and data related to underrepresented workers’ experiences, and survey findings from 12 pre-apprenticeship organizations and 30 pre-apprentices in the Puget Sound region. 

Key findings

  • Pre-apprenticeship in construction can reduce employment disparities, including those perpetuated by racism, sexism, and homophobia.

  • The initial survey underscores the critical need for additional financial support for pre-apprenticeship organizations and pre-apprentices. This support is crucial to further provide services to recruit and retain pre-apprentices in the construction industry during and after their programs. 

  • The Regional Pre-Apprenticeship Collaboration (RPAC) and other entities bringing together stakeholders in the construction industry, including workers and worker representatives, play an essential role in expanding pre-apprenticeship’s reach.

The research team developed four surveys. The first was intended for organizations providing pre-apprenticeship programs. The additional three surveys were created for pre-apprentices, and were provided at the beginning, halfway point, and end of their programs. Research recommendations include the importance of pre-apprenticeship organizations focusing on strengthening collaborative relations with unions, apprenticeship organizations, and community-based organizations (CBOs) serving underrepresented communities. Apprenticeship organizations and CBOs should be partners in developing or modifying pre-apprenticeship programs. Survey responses also indicated that programs need to include stipends and/or wages to address the prohibitive costs of housing, transportation, and other expenses. 

Pre-apprenticeships can serve as a pathway to a high-paying career for workers by further increasing equitable outcomes for underrepresented groups. As we prioritize a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive workforce in the construction industry, thoughtful and targeted support for pre-apprenticeship programs at the local, state, and federal levels is necessary to ensure a system where careers in construction trades are accessible for all.

This project was developed with the Regional Pre-Apprenticeship Collaboration (RPAC) Retention Subcommittee, led by Subcommittee Chair, Stella Wayman, and Dr. Dan Jacoby, former Harry Bridges Endowed Chair in Labor Studies and Professor Emeritus, UW Bothell. Please reach out to Bridges Center Research Director, Rachel Erstad, with any questions: