Apprenticeships. A Great Idea Whose Time has Come.•
(Siemens students listen and learn during their apprenticeship. Photo Courtesy of Siemens Energy Inc. via NPR)
Finally, more attention is being paid to a powerful path to the middle class that is often overlooked in the United States: apprenticeships. If we are going to fill the estimated five million new “middle skill” jobs that will require some post-secondary training or credential, but not a four-year degree, by 2020, our country has to make high quality career and technical education programs and apprenticeships a priority.
A key member of the Opportunity Nation coalition was quick to laud an exciting new push announced last week by Vice President Biden that will make it easier for students to convert hands-on work experience into college credit. The initiative will not only enable young Americans to “earn while they learn” but also help them gain valuable higher education degrees and credentials.
“Seattle Colleges are thrilled to see the national focus on apprenticeships,” said Leslie Haynes, Director of the Pathways to Careers Initiative for the Chancellor’s office at Seattle Colleges. “Our Pathways to Careers initiative has forged new onramp programs with industry partners that lead to good jobs for students who need them the most.”
The Vice President launched a new consortium of colleges, employers and unions that have agreed to provide academic credit to students who complete apprenticeship programs. Eligibility for credit will be determined by third-party evaluators such as the American Council on Education and the National College Credit Recommendation Service.
According to news reports, major apprenticeship sponsors such as the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and large community college systems in Ohio and Wisconsin are already on board, as is the American Association of Community Colleges.
We urge more community colleges to join this consortium and give more deserving students valuable apprenticeship experience and the support they need to move up the career ladder and achieve economic stability and mobility.
More Apprenticeship Resources:
- The Brattleboro Reformer just published an excellent op-ed on why Biden’s consortium is such a great idea, and urges businesses to embrace the apprenticeship model that has been so successful in Europe.
- And a new solutions-oriented website, Republic 3.0 argues that Germany’s approach to training young workers could help lower the number of disconnected American youth – 5.8 million according to the Opportunity Index.
- German-based company Siemens is partnering with schools in North Carolina to offer apprenticeships at its state-of-the-art manufacturing plant in Charlotte. These students earn not only a high school diploma, but gain four years of work experience – during which time they earn $34,000 a year — and an associate’s degree from Central Piedmont Community College.
Opportunity Nation enthusiastically supports the expansion of high-quality apprenticeships such as the Siemens program and the Vice President’s new push to ensure more American students can participate in such experiences and gain valuable post-secondary credentials along the way.