Perceptions are not reality. A four-year college key is absolutely necessary for some job occupations, but this is absolutely not accurate for all.
In fact, in many of the fastest-growing occupations, like software engineering and health services, companies, are clamoring for employees with technical expertise and interpersonal skills - and eager to grow their own pipelines to get workers who are the right fit. How does a company do so? With a highly credible program like Modern Apprenticeship.
Modern Apprenticeship is a work-based training program aimed at preparing individuals of any age to meet sophisticated talent needs. It is often the case that Modern Apprenticeship endeavors are combined with high school and post-secondary CTE programs (the new, more palatable, terminology for vocational programs) to amplify the latter.
Modern Apprenticeship fills in the gaps of CTE programs including the ability to earn a solid wage while learning, (almost always) full-time employment upon graduation, strong professional mentoring, no student debt, and a significant industry credential upon completion. Who's doing it? Adobe, MailChimp, Nike, Peterson Automotive Collection, Mercedes Benz, Nissan, CVS Health and many other small, medium and large-sized organizations.
Over the decades, I've built up international expertise in changing the status quo in job skills training. And started my career as an Apprentice. I learned technical skills and people skills and acquired attributes like adaptability, resilience, and a zeal for lifelong learning. There are still many unsubstantiated myths abound around the term Apprenticeship and what I like to call the 21st-century career pathway. Many of these myths apply to CTE as well.
Firstly, Apprenticeship graduates do not earn low wages. Not true. In fact, the average starting salary is $60,000. This is nearly $10,000 more than college grads can expect to make in 2018. Secondly, Apprenticeship has deep ties to the trades. Not true. They offer a wide away of opportunities. As described above, all kinds of reputable companies are incorporating Modern Apprenticeship into their talent development strategies. They need too, or they will be left behind.
Finally, Modern Apprenticeship cost more than they are worth. Not true. In fact, companies agree that the investment is well worth the cost. Just ask MailChimp and CVS Health, not only are they diversifying their workforce through Modern Apprenticeship, but participants are highly productive and add more to their bottom line way sooner than does the typical off-the-street hire.
There are many other benefits of Modern Apprenticeship. Participants learn not only technical skills but also hone interpersonal and analytical skills. This is key considering that "essential career readiness skills" are sorely lacking in college graduates. McGraw-Hill Education documented this fact in its recent Future Workforce Survey. Collaboration, critical thinking, adaptability, resilience are significant parts of any skilled job description these days. Where do they come from? Experience and confidence are all part of the Modern Apprenticeship curriculum.
Modern Apprenticeship, like most work-based training programs, also allows for a variety of career trajectories. For example, a young adult can enter straight out of college, a career switcher can sign on later in life, or a young adult can supplement their four-year degree with one down the line. The options are limitless.
What many don't know is that countries like German, England, Canada, Norway, and Australia have highly reputable skills-based work programs which absorb 50-70 percent of young people moving towards a value industry credential or college later on. Impressive. States like Kentucky, California, Texas, South Carolina, Colorado, and Massachusetts, in addition to a groundswell of others, are pouring dollars into Modern Apprenticeship and CTE programs. Apprenticeships enjoy solid bipartisan support because all administrations know that the strength of the economy depends on getting more people into good jobs.
Apprenticeship opens a window of opportunity for many people to experience—to earn, to learn, to grow, and to contribute. So if you want to ensure the skilled, motivated, and productive workforce you need for today and tomorrow: hire an apprentice.
Nicholas Wyman is the CEO of the IWSI America, which is a global enterprise, committed to apprenticeship, skills and workforce development in today and tomorrow's workplace. He is the Author of award winning Job U How to Find Wealth and Success (Penguin) and the recent report: It’s Time. Using Modern Apprenticeship to Reskill America.
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