What is an Apprenticeship Program Sponsor?

Program Sponsors help set up your Registered Apprenticeship for government funding and a long-term solution for filling high-skill roles at your business. 

Apprenticeship Program Sponsor
William Lippolis

William Lippolis

Founder & CEO

Any employer, organization, association, or committee can become a Sponsor for a Registered Apprenticeship – the entity responsible for the implementation and ongoing administration of their programs.

Sponsors can be employers, labor unions, or intermediaries, such as workforce development agencies or colleges. Program Sponsors take on the legal responsibility of ensuring Apprenticeships are properly managed and operated in compliance with the standards set by the U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL) or State Apprenticeship Agency.

The process of starting a Registered Apprenticeship can feel overwhelming, but Sponsors & Intermediaries can help with the management of many different aspects of the program. Their principal roles include program design & registration, recruiting, screening, and hiring potential apprentices, while also supporting employers throughout the process of launching and maintaining their program. 

By working with an experienced Sponsor and following all USDOL guidelines from the get-go, your Apprenticeship program can set you up for government funding and a long-term solution for filling high-skill roles at your business. 

Key Components of a Registered Apprenticeship

To be recognized as a Registered Apprenticeship, every program must include the following four components:

1) Sponsor: The entity responsible for managing and administering the program. For example, a business or consortium of businesses, local community college, University, labor-management organization, or industry association.

2) Employer: The employer offering the Apprenticeship, providing on-the-job training (OJT). Apprenticeships can span fields such as business, administration, law, technology, HR, marketing, and more.

3) Educational provider: The entity responsible for the administration of related training and instruction (RTI). While some larger employers provide their own education, many utilize training providers who supply the training element of an Apprenticeship, such as a college or independent training organization.

4) Intermediaries: Intermediaries are organizations that work in conjunction with Sponsors, Employers, and Education providers to fill in the gaps. They provide supportive services to ensure new programs are – and continue to be – successful.

While all four components play their own essential role in the Apprenticeship program model, Sponsors can be considered the glue that holds everything together.


Need help building your Apprenticeship Program? Check out our guide that covers  the basics. 


What are the Responsibilities of a Program Sponsor?

The day-to-day activities of an Apprenticeship program Sponsor are centered around a few key responsibilities. One of these key responsibilities is to maintain program records under the USDOL guidelines, including apprentices’ successful completion of related training instruction (RTI), apprentices’ completion of work hours, proof of required wage increases, oversight of hiring procedures, and HR records.

Sponsors will also work with RTI providers to develop a program curriculum, comply with the USDOL to complete program audits, and develop program standards. Program Sponsors will also be responsible for documenting apprentice progress and submitting this to the USDOL through RAPIDS, the USDOL’s online tracking system.



Sponsor Models to Consider

Apprenticeship programs have various options when it comes to Sponsorship models they may want to consider, and Sponsors play a key role in each.

Community colleges, workforce boards, and other intermediary organizations are increasingly serving as Sponsors for RA programs. An active program Sponsor does the “heavy lifting” of setting up an Apprenticeship program by completing the required paperwork, setting the standards with employers, and arranging related instruction.



Individual employers can also sponsor their own Registered Apprenticeship programs. Rather than working through an Intermediary or outside Sponsor, a company can choose to operate its own program in-house. Employers should start by defining the criteria used to establish their Apprenticeship, such as On-the-Job Training (OJT) requirements, Related Technical Instruction (RTI), and Behavioral/Soft skills. These components define the core competencies that individuals should acquire through their training. Since Employer-Sponsors usually manage the administration of their programs internally, many use Apprenticeship Management Software to reduce administrative overhead and maximize efficacy.


Multi-Employer Sponsor

Another route a Registered Apprenticeship can take is the Multi-Employer Sponsor. Community colleges, for example, are well-positioned to serve as Apprenticeship Sponsors if they have staff with the required Apprenticeship knowledge, skills, and expertise to perform this function well. 

This type of Apprenticeship is beneficial for all parties involved. Educational and instructional providers build partnerships with local employers to develop industry-driven curricula and ensure students are connected with high-quality jobs. Employers have access to a pool of strong candidates and can leverage curriculum and classroom training delivered by the educational provider, who will also work to help assess skill development for participants while building a resource for diverse students and workers by enlisting untapped workforces. With their knowledge of local conditions, educational providers can also be useful tools in navigating regional labor market demands.

There is also a case in which a program's Sponsor could work with multiple employers. In this case, each employer signs a single-page agreement with the Sponsor. The employer then recruits and screens its apprentices and provides on-the-job training, as well as related technical instruction. 


Group Sponsors

An alternative option is Group Sponsorship, where apprentices work for participating employers rather than for one sole sponsor. A group of employers can come together and join forces to share the responsibility of developing an Apprenticeship. Participating employers are together responsible for on-the-job training, and their experienced employees typically provide apprentices with daily oversight and instruction.


Related Content: How to Start a Registered Apprenticeship Program




An Apprenticeship program Sponsor is an integral part of all Registered Apprenticeships and helps employers in supporting the operation and development of their Apprenticeship. Unlike other short-term, work-based training programs, Apprenticeships provide a long-term pipeline of prepared workers who are deeply immersed in the operations of the company, its needs, and its goals. 

The federal government spends around $18 billion for on-the-job training to help workers secure the skills and training they need for in-demand, well-paying jobs. That number is significantly smaller than the estimated $600 billion a year employers spend on formal and informal workforce development training. 

Partnering with a Sponsor ensures your Apprenticeship will run smoothly and meet all necessary state and federal requirements. What’s more, many Sponsors will offer software tools to alleviate the burdensome paperwork that many employers worry will impede their ability to get a successful Apprenticeship program off the ground.



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