#740 – US Needs National Apprenticeship Structure

Posted on | The Agurban

Last week we shared a story about how small manufacturers are having a difficult time filling job openings. They are not alone, as numerous manufacturing job openings throughout the United States are be left unfilled. Perhaps apprenticeship programs are the answer.

US Needs National Apprenticeship Structure

“America lacks a national strategy that prioritizes youth apprenticeship as an effective talent pipeline to boost the sector’s competitiveness and spread economic opportunity across the country,” says Brent Parton, of New America.

Adrienne M. Selko | Jun 04, 2019

A large reason for the strength of Germany’s manufacturing sector can be attributed to its well-established and highly structured apprenticeship program. This model has been brought to the U.S.  through German companies with divisions or has been adopted by American businesses.

Although U.S. programs have been successful in implementing apprenticeship programs, they usually only address the needs of specific companies or industries such as manufacturing. Even with support from the U.S. Department of Labor, including an official certification process, apprenticeship opportunities remain limited.

A broader, national strategy is needed.

Providing economic opportunity through manufacturing historically was key to creating a middle class. Currently, that middle class is shrinking, and now policy leaders are turning their attention back to this field.  Apprenticeships offer a direct route to economic prosperity according to New America.

There are many different types of future workers that can become involved in this program, which allows students to complete high school and start their postsecondary education at no cost. They can do this by working in the field while attending school. Additionally, they have the benefit of working with mentors which allows them to start along a path that broadens their options for the future.

It is for those reasons that this past October New American announced a program called the Partnership to Advance Youth Apprenticeshi p (PAYA). It is a multi-year, collaborative initiative that will support programs in states and cities and then expand access to high-quality apprenticeship opportunities.

To ensure that the program is robust enough to become a national standard PAYA developed a set of guiding principles.

Career-Oriented –Learning is structured around knowledge, skills, and competencies that lead to careers with family-supporting wages.

Equitable –Learning is accessible to every student, with targeted supports for those adversely impacted by long-standing inequities in our education system and labor market.

Portable –Learning leads to postsecondary credentials and transferable college credit that expand options for students.

Adaptable –Learning is designed collaboratively to be recognized and valued across an industry or sector.

Accountable -Student, employer, and program outcomes are monitored using transparent metrics to support improvement.

To support states, cities, and regions working to make this vision a reality, PAYA is awarding grants to local, state, and regional partnerships from geographies both large and small, including towns and rural areas. Competitive partnerships will have leadership and support from a wide range of sectors, including K-12 and post-secondary institutions, government bodies, and local and regional businesses.

The goal of this comprehensive program is to enable communities to become part of a “visible national community of innovators at the forefront of the movement to expand participation in high-quality youth apprenticeship programs that produce equitable outcomes for students, employers, and communities.”

Programs like these are an important step in what needs to be a continuing process to create a comprehensive apprenticeship structure which will ensure a strong U.S. economy.