Insights and Perspective

 

Insights and Perspective

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American Apprenticeship: From the Founding Fathers to the Future of Our Country

From their conception in the Middle Ages to their contributions in the early years of the United States to modern day career pathways, apprenticeships have a long history of supplying affordable labor to businesses while also providing wages and training to the next generation of skilled trades and craftsmen. The earliest careers initiated in the U.S. by apprenticeships were those such as surveyor, printer, and silversmith. National Apprenticeship Week, which is observed from November 15-21 this year, is a chance for our country not just to acknowledge the contribution apprenticeships have made in the formation of our country’s economy and infrastructure, but also the potential of these programs to create sustainable careers and talent pipelines for the future.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the journey to modern apprenticeship programs began in 1911 when Wisconsin created the very first state Registered Apprenticeship system, and the U.S. Congress followed suit in 1937 with the Fitzgerald Act. In this post-industrial revolution U.S., apprenticeships programs fell mostly within the industries of manufacturing, construction, and utilities. During the Baby Boom years following World War II, apprenticeship programs began to expand to include training of firefighters, police, emergency medical technicians, and other health and safety workers. 

In 2017, the Executive Order on Expanding Apprenticeships in America was signed in an effort to support the expansion of apprenticeship programs within the United States. These programs now encompass the more traditional occupations of manufacturing and construction as well as emerging and high-growth industries such as energy conservation, healthcare, and information technology. Apprenticeship programs are hugely beneficial to all parties involved.

The Apprenticeship Advantage

For individuals, modern apprenticeship programs provide a way to pursue a career with growth potential without incurring the heavy burden of student debt associated with most 4-year degrees. Students may even discover apprenticeship programs offer a complement to scholastic education by providing a means of living as they matriculate and offer the experience needed to enter the workforce after graduation. Earning progressive wages throughout the program is an attractive component of many apprenticeships, and demonstrates to the apprentice the skills attained as well as the benefits of pursuing that particular industry. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, individuals who complete apprenticeship programs can earn $300,000 more across their career than their peers who did not complete an apprenticeship.

For employers, apprenticeships are a means of developing a highly-skilled workforce with specialized knowledge handed down through mentors and hands-on learning. As many industries are facing dwindling numbers of appropriately-skilled workers, apprenticeship programs create the opportunity to develop a skilled workforce by connecting education with the modern workplace. Unions and other trade organizations also benefit when they sponsor apprenticeships by insuring their numbers remain high. Educational institutions can discover new avenues to a student population previously unavailable to them through apprenticeship programs. 

According to the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment, nearly 9 out of 10 apprentices are employed at the end of their program, and apprenticeship programs continue to provide a competitive advantage to American workers, businesses, labor management organizations, education and training institutions, the workforce investment system and government. 

Supporting Apprenticeships Programs in More Ways than One

Geographic Solutions proudly supports apprenticeships as a career path to lead individuals to growth-focused employment while also creating wage-earing opportunities. In December 2019, Geographic Solutions created an apprenticeship program to help prepare local students for the future and to build a pipeline of workers. The program was hailed as a success and two-thirds of the inaugural apprentices were hired into permanent roles within the company. 

We have also developed an Apprenticeship Module to monitor and track Registered Apprenticeships (RA), Industry-Recognized Apprenticeship Programs (IRAP), and other programs that incorporate on-the-job training and instruction. The standalone or integrated module is offered as part of Virtual OneStop Sapphire, and serves as a case management conduit between individuals, providers, and agency staff. This solution captures necessary data regarding programs and participants and compiles the data for federal reporting. Reports can ascertain the extent to which states' goals have been achieved, and identify areas for improvement.

The module is currently in use in numerous states including Alabama, Maryland, Missouri, and more. For more information on Geographic Solutions’ Apprenticeship Module, contact us for a demo or quote.



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