Nicholas Wyman, co-author of a new report, It’s Time: Using Modern Apprenticeship to Reskill America, and CEO and Founder of the Institute for Workplace Skills and Innovation America (IWSI) knows first-hand the power of an apprenticeship. Not only is he on the Advisory Board of the American Institute of Innovative Apprenticeship, but he started his career as an apprentice at a time when he was better suited to hands-on learning than a traditional classroom environment.
The report’s authors, including Wyman, Lisa Linowes Yates, and Simon Whatmore, are three of the top executives at IWSI, the American arm of a worldwide network with the goal of “matching job seekers with sustainable and meaningful skilled careers.”
In his introduction to the report, Wyman writes, “Using a range of local and international data sources as well as real-life success stories, this report provides you with a solid understanding of and insight into the Modern Apprenticeship’s ability to build an enviable talent pipeline and presents practical advice on creating a Modern Apprenticeship program.
Like the non-conforming geometric figures on its pages, we are challenging our readers to consider what is and isn’t possible—to rethink their talent-development and job creation strategies, to adopt new perspectives on promising career pathways, and to abandon antiquated and inaccurate perceptions of Modern Apprenticeship.”
Based on the premise that there is a mismatch between current economic statistics that point to job growth and opportunity and the reality of the employment situation, on both the employer and employee side, the report starts off with these well documented statistics:
- 40% of US employers can’t find employees with much needed skills
- 60% are disappointed by the lack of preparation for entry-level jobs and beyond
- 75% of 3000 recently surveyed employers across all sectors reported a skills shortage
- 92% said the skills shortage was negatively impacting productivity, staff turnover, and employee satisfaction. Employers cited a lack of available training and development as a main reason for the shortage
While many economists are predicting an inevitable turn to end the current boom times, the authors of this report ask optimistically how smarter training and new or re-engineered pathways to the workforce can help to keep the economy strong. With the stage set for the need to rethink workforce training, the authors set out to answer these key questions:
- How do we keep up the momentum?
- How do we ensure that employers have the skilled labor they need to keep pace with the changing nature of work?
- How will the next generation of career pathways unfold so workers are prepared to meet employers’ needs?
The report continues with encouraging statistics. According to a Harris Poll cited by the authors, four out of 5 Americans believe more people should consider earn-while-you-learn apprenticeship programs. And one of the many myths that the authors bust in the report, that apprentices earn low wages, turns out to be untrue. According to the report, starting annual salary for apprentices is above $60,000. Moreover, apprenticeships are tried-and-true and used around the globe. In some countries, the report says, as many as 70% of young people participate in apprenticeship programs. Much of the evidence for success in current apprenticeship programs comes from a number of case studies described in the report from companies like Adobe and CVS.
The authors explain the differences between an apprenticeship and other types of on the job training, like internships, describe the differences between registered and non-registered apprenticeship programs, and layout a roadmap to a modern apprenticeship which includes:
- Customized, supervised, and paid on-the-job training at reduced or no cost
- Wages graduated in step with skills gained during training
- Related classroom instruction (on or off site) to reinforce technical skills learned in the workplace
- Formalized mentoring and coaching
- Nationally recognized industry credentials or specialized technical certification earned for demonstrating the achievement of workplace competencies
- Optional college credit leading to an associate or bachelor’s degree at little to no additional expense
Though the idea of the Modern Apprenticeship described in the report seems to imply that apprenticeships can be an effective work-force training platform in non-traditional apprenticeship industries, the ideas included could be as easily applied to a construction firm as a tech company. If you operate a business with the potential of training employees on the job or are considering what type of career training is right for you and may be interested in an apprenticeship, this 41-page report is an easy and worthwhile read.