The concept of people learning a trade from a skilled employer may be about to make a big comeback. The Obama administration announced a $100 million program to support apprenticeships, with a goal to double the number of apprenticeship programs in the United States over the next five years.
“Apprenticeships are dramatically underutilized in this country, and if we expand our apprenticeship system, it is a good way to help businesses meet the demand for skilled labor that labor economists have said is a concern that we should be worried about over the next 10 years,” Sarah Ayres Steinberg, policy analyst at the Center for American Progress, said in an eCampus News article.
The concept is growing fastest on community college campuses. Some of the two-year schools are already working with businesses to help students gain experience and credentials, such as Ivy Tech Community College in Indiana, which offers credits to apprentices in trade programs for time spent on the job that can then be used to earn an associate degree or technical certificates. In addition, the Department of Education and the Department of Labor launched the Registered Apprenticeship College Consortium, which allows graduates to convert on-the-job training into college credits.
“Our current system of education and training is not sufficient to meet the demands for skilled labor,” Ayres Steinberg said. “We have to do something different. We have to make it easier for young people to get the postsecondary education and training that they need.”