As National Apprenticeship Week wraps up, I am grateful for what has been accomplished to this point when we talk about registered apprenticeship programs, but there is far more education that needs to be done.

For participants, registered apprenticeship programs provide a debt-free education equivalent to a four-year degree. It immediately puts people to work in their own communities, building businesses, industrial facilities, schools, roads, bridges and other infrastructure needed to thrive. At the same time, apprentices receive state of the art skills training, family-supporting wages, labor protections, health care coverage and retirement benefits.

For industry, registered apprenticeship programs provide an unrivaled workforce development program. When industry decides to make a capital investment or maintain their valuable assets, they know when the labor force has participated in a registered apprenticeship program, they have partaken in a uniform model of high-quality education, expert skills development and safety training with first-rate labor standards.

For the public, the proven value of a construction registered apprenticeship provides the best trained workers with the highest level of skill to build the safest roads, bridges, schools and utilities. These good careers anchor local communities and provide pathways to the middle class.

We thank the city of Fargo for recognizing registered apprenticeship programs this past week for the fifth annual celebration of National Apprenticeship Week. For the North Dakota Building Trades Unions, it’s vitally important that our communities understand the value of the Registered Apprenticeship model. We commit to preserve and promote this unrivaled workforce development program for the community of Fargo, the region and the state. It is truly a win-win for all.