Debunking Myths of Apprenticeships

It’s 2018 and student debt has become the second highest consumer debt category, surpassed only by mortgage debt. This is the total amount of student debt owed by about 44.2 million borrowers - and that’s in the U.S. alone. That’s just shy of $38,000 per person. With tuition rates increasing faster than the value of the education it covers, students are looking for different ways to develop important job skills and transform their career experience. One alternative that has been gaining popularity in recent years are apprenticeship programs.

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Apprenticeships are also gaining popularity with employers, who, in the midst of record unemployment numbers, are becoming a viable channel to recruit skilled candidates. More than two-thirds of surveyed employers say they’re having a difficult time finding skilled talent for their companies and the number of job candidates - even college graduates - finishing school without marketable skills or real-world experience is on the rise. Apprenticeships can help solve both these issues. You may be surprised to know how broad reaching, relevant and easy to implement apprenticeships are.

Myth #1: Apprenticeships are just for trade jobs

While apprenticeships used to be reserved for unionized trade industries such as carpentry or plumbing, they’ve spread to over 1,000 occupations across multiple industries. Today, there are over 533,000 apprenticeships available in the U.S. alone for jobs like computer systems analysts, equal opportunity officers, desktop publishers and more. Some benefits of apprenticeships:

  • The apprentice gains real-world experience
  • Employers acquire trainable, entry-level talent
  • Apprentices can be trained for an organization’s unique processes

Myth #2: Apprenticeships are difficult to put in place for employers

Most apprenticeships are registered with the U.S. Department of Labor and sponsored by employers, trade organizations or labor unions. Apprentices are generally hired as contractors, combining classroom instruction with on-the-job training. The programs range in length from 1 to 6 years depending on the field, and the prerequisites are a high school diploma or equivalent. You can design the apprenticeship program that is right for your company and gain access to specialized skills. Creating an apprenticeship is like building a customized talent pipeline. Not only do they offer young people access to necessary hands-on experience through the guidance of a trained mentor, but these programs offer your company the chance to shape the next generation of employees. The ground floor training allows you to grant students skills specific to your company, while also substantially increasing the likelihood of a loyal workforce. The most important step to take (prior to establishing an apprenticeship program) is in identifying the roles within your organization that will most likely benefit from this system. A few examples include:

  • Jobs requiring you to find employees with a specific skill set
  • Positions with a high turnover rate
  • Occupations with a highly skilled workforce entering retirement soon

Myth #3: Apprenticeships are simply an alternative to college

Not only can apprenticeships help you find and train for the skill sets you need in a tight job market, they can serve as a powerful retention tool as well. Apprentices often avoid high student loan debt that can stress workers. Apprentices earn living wages earlier than their college-educated counterparts and can contribute to your company’s bottom line sooner. In fact, those that choose the apprenticeship route earn an average salary of $60,000 right out of the gate. For comparison, the average college graduate makes a starting salary of $50,000. With these attractive salaries in the minds of entry level talent, your company can boost its brand by offering apprenticeships. But apprenticeships can also be a great way for those farther along in their career to switch jobs, or even a way for people inside your company to build a career plan.

Apprenticeships can are a powerful way to hire and grow your company’s talent pool, help students avoid debt they can’t afford, and amplify your employer brand.

Think your company could benefit from the implementation of an apprenticeship program? Check out WCN CAMPUS today!

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