The Impact of Apprenticeship

The Impact of Apprenticeship

Solving the many unemployment problems in America has always been one of the top priorities of any political administration. No matter the political alignment, having a strategy that finds Americans a way into the workforce is essential. In fact, looking for alternate ways for Americans to enter the workforce was a major focus of our past election, with Hillary Clinton stating “College is crucial, but a four-year degree should not be the only path to a good job. We’re going to help more people learn a skill or practice a trade and make a good living doing it.” Donald Trump has also promised “to increase access to higher education and skills training.” Thankfully, President Obama has already planted the seeds of expansion for apprenticeship, a form of employment that combines on-the-job learning with additional training outside of the workplace. As the United States’ government continue to invest their time and money on apprenticeship, the program has shown that it is becoming a worthwhile investment in terms of money and effectiveness.

In a blog post by Forbes contributor Nicolas Wyman, he compiles the statistics that show how worthwhile the Registered Apprenticeship program has been. He states that “dollar for dollar, no workforce training method packs as much punch as apprenticeship.” In fact, “every federal dollar invested in apprenticeship programs brings a $27 return on investment.” However, return on investment should not be the most important identifier of a successful workforce strategy. The most important part of any workforce strategy is whether it can target the demographics that need jobs and how effective it is. To that point, Wyman writes that “apprenticeship is key to addressing youth unemployment, widening income disparities and the shrinking of the middle class.” Wyman also shows the advantages that come from being an apprentice, writing that “nine out of ten apprentices are employed immediately upon finishing their training, at an average starting salary of around $50,000 a year.” This is a major incentive for those that wish to forego university and enter the workforce.

Investing in Apprenticeship Inforgraph - Courtesy: Nicholas Wyman

Courtesy: Nicholas Wyman

With Registered Apprenticeship expanding and diversifying the types of programs offered, it is becoming a potential solution for many job seekers. Unfortunately, many of these job seekers and businesses still believe that apprenticeship can only be used in specific trade occupations when, in truth, “today’s apprenticeship programs are becoming more sophisticated and progressive, and can be found in many modern fields from engineering, sales and marketing, to computer programming and health care.”

A great representation for how far modern apprenticeship programs differ from what they were in the past has been South Carolina’s Apprenticeship Carolina program. This program is “comprised of six apprenticeship consultants” that work with employers to help make apprenticeship programs that are customized for their workplace. It has become the poster child for how to successfully implement apprenticeship into the fabric of a workforce strategy. In fact, the number of apprenticeship programs in South Carolina have increased 800% since 2007 – “from 90 to 809.” This figure also includes a significant rise in youth registered apprenticeship programs. With huge companies, like “BMW, Boeing, and Volvo”, backing their apprenticeship programs, they have successfully integrated apprenticeship throughout multiple industries. Even with a great apprenticeship strategy, South Carolina is still looking to offer more incentives for businesses to get on board with apprenticeship. South Carolina Senator Tim Scott (R) and New Jersey Senator Cory Booker (D) are looking to “incentivize public-private partnerships and provides a tax credit for employers who hire apprentices” through the Leveraging and Energizing America’s Apprenticeship Programs Act (LEAP Act). Not only is this a great tool to continue the momentum South Carolina has put into their apprenticeship model, it shows that Registered Apprenticeship has bipartisan support. With support from all sides and a history of effectiveness, Registered Apprenticeship looks to help answer many needs from job seekers and employers alike in the coming years.

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