The federal government is helping to fund apprenticeship programs for employers more than ever right now. This goes beyond dollars; we’re talking about individualized support, skill assessment and guidance, resources, and more. So why the flood of money and focus to this specific type of training? The answer lies in the fact that apprenticeships have so many strong and proven benefits, yet so many U.S. based businesses are simply unaware. Because many businesses are ill-informed on the benefits of apprenticeship programs and how to get started with creating their very own program, the Task Force on Apprenticeship Expansion was developed by the Department of Labor To help bridge this gap. In this article, you will learn more about apprenticeships, why high school graduates can benefit from apprenticeship programs and how apprenticeships aid in employer recruiting efforts.
First, let’s make sure we’re clear on the definition of an apprenticeship. An apprenticeship combines paid on-the-job learning and formal classroom instruction to help a worker master the knowledge and skills of a certain occupation. Programs vary in length, with apprentices receiving a mix of structured work experience with an employer and relevant academic and technical instruction, often through partnerships with local two- and four-year colleges, organized labor, or other training partners. In the past, apprenticeships were most commonly associated with blue-collar occupations like carpenters, plumbers, electricians, and machinists, but now apprenticeship programs are being introduced across new industries like healthcare and information technology.
According to the task force mentioned above, one of the biggest hurdles when it comes to apprenticeships is helping jobseekers, especially young people, understand what an apprenticeship can do for them. If you are trying to build your apprenticeship pipeline and recruit candidates, we’ve found that young people need to see apprenticeships as a viable career pathway. Like college, apprenticeships must be viewed as a desired post-high school graduate option for students.
Unfortunately, it is extremely difficult to break the “college for all” mentality that many high schools still abide by. However, many workforce development, community development, and economic development agencies are working alongside employers to diligently educate students, parents, and teachers about how apprenticeships are a great option for high school graduates. By partnering with your local workforce development board or community college, you can help to break the negative stigma and find success in your apprenticeship recruitment efforts.
Community colleges are natural partners in these efforts because apprenticeship programs offer a way to stay relevant to the future of work and education by offering the opportunity to earn college credit through apprenticeships. Check out this great resource by apprenticeship.gov for more information on the community college apprenticeships delivery model.
We have also found it helpful to educate parents, students, and teachers as to why the apprenticeship model is a viable career pathway for a young person in 2020. If you are having a hard time articulating the apprenticeship concept to candidates or parents, the following scenario can help to convey how appropriate apprenticeships are.
Let’s say there is a high school student with decent grades and a general aptitude for his/her chosen field who does not want to go to college. If that student were to participate in a registered apprenticeship program upon graduating high school, he or she would not only be learning valuable career skills in a classroom, he or she would also be gaining work experience, and making a livable wage (The average starting wage for an apprentice is $15/hr). If this student were not to start an apprenticeship, he or she would most likely be lumped into the group of students who are entering the general workforce – and will typically enter an entry-level job with low wages, no opportunity to earn a valuable credential and limited job mobility.
By entering a registered apprenticeship, or even beginning with a pre-apprenticeship program, this student can start his or her journey on a pathway that will deliver:
- Higher wages – The “earn while you learn” format pays apprentices to learn, unlike college where students pay for instruction. Many industries give apprentices a slight bump in pay for each class they complete during their apprenticeship. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, workers who complete an apprenticeship earn an average starting salary of $50,000.
- Continued education and training – Apprentices can earn college credit for their coursework and on-the-job training. This credit can lead to an associate’s degree and, depending on the industry, may also contribute to a bachelor’s or master’s degree.
- Nationally recognized credentials – Every graduate of an apprenticeship program receives a nationally recognized credential. This is a portable credential that signifies to employers that apprentices are fully qualified for the job.
- Job security - Apprentices often climb the company ranks faster than their peers who don’t complete the additional technical training that accompanies apprenticeship programs. They have more well-rounded skill sets and better understand the technical aspects of their industry.
If you are new to the apprenticeship model and unsure if it will work in your industry, consider the great success we have seen with nontraditional apprenticeships, such as EMTs and Paramedics. For example, the City of Boston offers an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) apprenticeship with the Massachusetts Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development that provides paid, hands-on learning for new hires with Boston EMS. The 6-month academy of training in the classroom and one year of fieldwork is in addition to a pre-apprenticeship EMT course that prepares applicants for certification.*
It may take a little thinking outside of the box, but apprenticeships can be an effective tool for attracting, retaining, and training talent. Employees are eager to learn and grow in their careers. Apprenticeships do just that. This learning and advancement is an intangible benefit that will aid in your recruitment efforts. Apprenticeships are an earn-as-you-learn, flexible workforce development tool and training strategy that can be customized to meet the needs of any business.
If you’re a company thinking of starting an apprenticeship program, read this blog for more information on first steps, who to partner with, and where funding comes from.
There may be challenges in growing apprenticeships, however it is also important to celebrate the success apprenticeship programs have seen over the recent years. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, more than 282,000 apprentices have graduated from an apprenticeship program in the last 7 years. Additionally, more than 10,800 new apprenticeship programs have been created since 2013. The good news is that apprenticeships are gaining traction in the U.S.!
If you are interested in learning how your company can be part of the growing movement of apprenticeships, click here to schedule a free apprenticeship consultation with one of our experts.