Apprenticeships Benefit Individuals and Employers

March 2, 2021 by Victoria Turner
A master chimney sweep and apprentice in 2008. (Photo via Wikipedia Commons)

WASHINGTON – The Department of Labor’s apprenticeship programs benefit individuals seeking to master skills while gainfully employed, and provides employers with the talent needed to fill the current workforce shortage, according to two Congressmen yesterday.

Apprenticeships differ from paid internships in that they are not temporary, but last a number of years. 

Vocational training has been” stigmatized” throughout the years in the U.S., with the idea that everyone has to get a college degree to get a job with a living wage, and that working “with your hands” somehow shows a “deficiency,” said Rep. David McKinley, R-W. Va, during a fireside chat at a Brookings Institution event entitled, “The business case for expanding apprenticeships: Federal and employer perspectives.” 

As a country, “we need to get past that,” pointing out the “pocketbook” value of the “earn and learn” component of these programs. Getting hands-on training under a mentor in applicable skills while earning a living wage and receiving the transferable certification by the DOL means individuals can make “a lot of money instantly,” he said. 

“If you’re going into the apprenticeship program, you are going to come out of that… maybe making $70 to $80 thousand a year and zero debt as compared to going to college for four years,” McKinley said.

Apprenticeship programs put choice back in the individual’s hands – whether they are in early education like high school or adults seeking a new career opportunity, Sen. John Hickenlooper, D-Colo. agreed. It also allows employers to fill the ever-growing gap in skilled versus unskilled workers by “getting a workforce with the skills and preparation that can actually do what is needed,” he said. 

The Congressmen’s remarks followed a panel discussion on the National Apprenticeship Act of 2021 that passed in the House earlier this month and would grant $3.5 billion, disbursed throughout the next five years, towards the DOL’s Office of Apprenticeship programs – Registered Apprenticeships, pre-apprenticeships and youth apprenticeships. The Act also seeks to expand these programs beyond the trades – construction, utilities and manufacturing – they were initially intended for in its inception after the Great Depression. 

Individuals want to study without being bogged down by debt for the rest of their working life and employers want to have skilled workers to be successful in the current market. The DOL’s Office of Apprenticeship programs “[bridges] the gap between where we need to be and where we are today,” said Obed Louissaint, senior vice president of transformation and culture at IBM.

The country was already facing digitalization before the pandemic, Louissaint said, and the tech industry saw numerous jobs going unfilled. The “digital transformation” of the country has accelerated now, along with the need for a workforce to meet the demand for these modern skills. Despite the millions of Americans facing long-term unemployment in the current recession, “[they] can’t find these jobs,” he added. 

Louissaint said it was a “business imperative to close the skill gap” and encouraged employers across all sectors of the economy to not “shy away” but “lean” into the programs. Fifty percent of IBM’s current jobs no longer require four-year degrees, he added, noting IBM has seen a “high level of retention of the individuals [they] have invested in.” 

Fellow panelist and CareerWise Colorado CEO Noel Ginsburg agreed, adding that a system is needed that “serves all of our people” to address inequality issues in the U.S. 

“You can start with apprenticeship and end with a PhD,” he said. “It’s not a limiter, it actually expands opportunity.”

In The News

Health

Voting

Employment

Amazon Survives Drive to Unionize Plant in Alabama
Labor
Amazon Survives Drive to Unionize Plant in Alabama
April 9, 2021
by Dan McCue

Amazon appears to have enough votes to thwart an effort to unionize its warehouse in Bessemer, Ala.  By Friday afternoon, the company had crossed the threshold to secure a majority of votes, with 1,700 warehouse workers voting against the union and 700 voting in favor. A... Read More

States Likely to Determine COVID-Related Workers’ Comp
Employment
States Likely to Determine COVID-Related Workers’ Comp
April 8, 2021
by Victoria Turner

When James Reidy worked at the Labor Department in the 1980s, processing worker compensation claims from asbestos exposure in shipyards, he found that many of the cases stalled over the question of causation. The workers had been exposed to asbestos in their work, some for decades,... Read More

US Employment Picture Brightens
In The News
US Employment Picture Brightens
April 6, 2021
by Victoria Turner

WASHINGTON - With 7.4 million job openings and 5.7 million new hires across the U.S. in February, the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Job Openings and Labor Turnover report paints a brighter picture for the country’s employment situation more than a year into the pandemic.  Total separations... Read More

Jobs Surge As Employers Add 916,000 Workers
Employment
Jobs Surge As Employers Add 916,000 Workers
April 2, 2021
by TWN Staff

The U.S. added a solid 916,000 jobs last month -- far surpassing an expected increase of 675,000 jobs -- and the unemployment rate fell to 6 percent, the Labor Department reported Friday. The new numbers come after the economy added 379,000 jobs in February, a figure... Read More

How COVID-19 is Changing Biologic Workspaces
Health
How COVID-19 is Changing Biologic Workspaces
April 1, 2021
by Alexa Hornbeck

SAN DIEGO – The past four days, hundreds of keynote speakers in academia, biotech, and pharma virtually gathered for the Festival of Biologics.   Unlike other years, many of the top-producers in the biopharma and life sciences industries discussed how work practices have changed as a result... Read More

Veterans Needed in Registered Apprenticeships
Veterans
Veterans Needed in Registered Apprenticeships
March 31, 2021
by Victoria Turner

WASHINGTON - If 94% of individuals completing a Registered Apprenticeship program through the Department of Labor are retained by their employers, U.S. Navy Officer Michael Pruitt asked yesterday, why are there not more veterans or transitioning military service members taking advantage of one?  Only 1% of... Read More

News From The Well
scroll top