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  • Apprenticeship – Will it make an impact on our higher education?
  • Posted By:
  • Kathy H
  • Posted On:
  • 02-May-2015
  • Today, in our country, there is a definite rebirth of apprenticeship. This fact is confirmed in the American Council on Education report. How far is apprenticeship relevant in today’s education scenario and will it have any significant impact?

    Apprenticeship is nothing but a qualified person gaining experience by working with a particular skilled and experienced employer. This helps the concerned person gain the necessary practical skills while enhancing the productivity for the employer. Today, apprenticeship is a trend resurfacing and welcomed by most academic institutions and employers.

    With a view to creating opportunities in high demand occupation in non-traditional fields, Obama recently announced a $100 million program. Supporting new apprenticeship programs, this initiative is aimed at greatly increasing the number of apprentices in our country providing them with valuable job driven training.

    Following his footsteps, Senators Tim Scott R-SC and Cory Booker D-NJ have also introduced a $1000 tax credit for businesses sponsoring apprentices. This is a welcome move as a four year college degree is not really necessary for many jobs that just needs post-secondary training.

    Statistics released by Georgetown University’s Centre on Education and Workforce shows that high demand occupations in our country will require over 5 million workers with the necessary technical credentials and certifications by the year 2022. This makes it extremely urgent for us to give the necessary impetus to apprenticeship programs. Are our institutions ready to accept apprenticeships?

    Compared to other major economies across the world, support for apprenticeships in our country is relatively low. As compared to over a million apprentices in UK in 2011, we have only 388,000 in our country.

    On the up side, many states are currently making a lot of effort in investing in apprenticeship programs. According to the Center for American Progress’s economic policy team policy analyst Sarah Ayres Steinberg, South Carolina has seen an increase in number if apprenticeship sponsoring employers from 90 to 700 since 2007. Vermont, Iowa and Maryland are other states that support apprenticeship.

    Steinberg says that our country can effectively meet skilled labour demand for the next decade by expanding the apprenticeship system. She said that our greatest drawback is that we are under utilizing our massive apprentice resource.

    In US, there is increased focus on recruiting apprentices from community colleges as many companies looking to fill jobs have a tie-up with these colleges. Students from these colleges are greatly benefiting from this as they gain the necessary skills and experience. Apprentices in the Ivy Tech Community College, Indiana are given technical certificates or associate degrees as their time spent on the job earns them credits.

    The Registered Apprenticeship College Consortium was launched this year by the Department of Labour in partnership with our Department of Education. This consortium aims at offering bachelor’s or associate degrees for apprenticeship program graduates by offering them credits for time spent on the job.

    Before we go full-fledged into this trend, it is important to evaluate apprenticeship programs carefully. When students receive college credits, they must be worth it. It now remains to be seen how many of our four-year institutions readily embrace apprenticeship programs.


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