Apprenticeships Help Create Jobs. So Why Are They In Decline?
Career College Central summary:
Ask CEOs and corporate recruiters whether they're finding the workers they need, and they'll lament about a skills gap that threatens productivity and growth—not just in their companies but in the economy at large. Yet employers and state legislators have been decidedly lukewarm about a proven solution to the problem: apprenticeships.
Apprenticeships can offer a precise match between the skills employers want and the training workers receive, says Robert Lerman, an economics professor at American University. "It's a great model for transferring skills from one generation to the next," says John Ladd, director of the Department of Labor's Office of Apprenticeship.
Nevertheless, according to the Labor Department, formal programs that combine on-the-job learning with mentorships and classroom education fell 40% in the U.S. between 2003 and 2013. All of which leads to the question: If apprenticeships are the solution to a pressing problem, why is there so much resistance?
Perhaps the biggest obstacle is that two-thirds of apprenticeship programs in the U.S. are in the construction industry, furthering a blue-collar image that stifles interest among young people and the employers who could create jobs for them. Construction unions, which dominate many of the state agencies devoted to apprenticeships, haven't done much outreach to other industries, Mr. Lerman says.
At the same time, business owners and managers sometimes shy away from apprenticeships because of their association with unions. "There's an underlying fear among employers" that unions want to come in and organize workers, or that any apprenticeship program would be run by a union, says J. Ronald DeJuliis, head of labor and industry at Maryland's Department of Labor.
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THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
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