How Apprenticeships Are Helping Workers Break Into New Industries

With many workers leaving their current positions apprenticeships are providing pathways to new opportunities in new industries.

Graphic image of different workers in different occupations.
Sovann Boyd

Sovann Boyd

Digital Marketing Specialist @ ApprentiScope

Why Are Workers Switching Careers?

As the United States workforce continues to make its way back to Pre-Covid-19 numbers many people are finding that the pandemic has given them an opportunity to make a change and switch careers or even industries. In a recent study conducted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce 32% of people who lost their job during the pandemic and remain unemployed say they are looking to work in a different industry for their next job. A recent poll from the Washington Post-Schar School found similar results, with one-third of workers under the age of 40 considering changing careers or switching industries since the pandemic. 

In the past, many people looked at switching careers for more money, better benefits, and more advancement opportunities. The difference between this new wave of career switchers is that while many of the traditional reasons for changing careers are still important factors, they are no longer the most important ones anymore. Due to the pandemic, many people were forced to reevaluate what they want from a career helping many workers to realize the importance of things like work-life balance, flexible scheduling, and a positive culture.

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With the need to fill open positions quickly increasing and the lack of properly skilled talent becoming more and more apparent, many businesses are looking to move away from a degree-based approach in hiring as a bachelor’s degree is no longer a minimum requirement to do many jobs anymore. Now employers are moving towards a skills-based approach to hiring instead as many companies are seeking people with skills within the technology sector.


How Apprenticeships are Helping

With many workers leaving their current positions and looking to blaze a new trails apprenticeships can provide a pathway to new opportunities in new industries and can be a great way to change your career, as the individual on-the-job training involved will equip participants with the skills they will need to excel in many different roles. This is ideal for career changers with limited knowledge in their new field as the program will include training starting from the beginning.

Apprenticeships can also be great for people who want to increase proficiency in their current position or change roles within their company. Apprenticeship programs are available to people of all ages making this a great option for anyone interested in applying. For many participants, retraining to pursue their passion can also vastly improve their enjoyment of their work as well as their productivity. 


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According to data collected in 2017, 41% of the apprenticeships started were by people over the age of 24 and a further 30% were started by those aged between 19 and 24, meaning that 71% of apprenticeships were started by people aged 19 or over. These programs were not just offering entry-level roles either, in fact, many apprenticeship starts were more likely to be at a higher start level in 2017 as 44% of apprenticeships that started that academic year was at an advanced level.

One drawing factor for many interested in apprenticeships is the fact that employers have reported higher retention rates among workers from apprenticeship programs. This could explain why 97% of businesses with apprenticeship programs would recommend them to other businesses according to the U.S Department of Labor. In the U.S. there are currently over 150,000 businesses that operate apprenticeship programs, including high profile organizations like Ford Motor Company, UPS, and CVS Pharmacy.


How Apprenticeships are Creating Opportunities in New Industries 

As technological advances and automation continue to transform the way we live and work, a number of today’s jobs won’t exist in 10 years’ time. The fastest areas for reskilling are software engineering, data analytics, and digital marketing. These sectors continued to grow during the pandemic, and show no signs of slowing down moving into the future.

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Research conducted by Harvard and Burning Glass Technologies identified around 27 jobs in the United States that are strongly influenced by apprenticeship programs. These industries are mainly in the construction and mining industries, but an additional 47 different occupations were found to have the potential to be effectively staffed through an apprenticeship model. These occupations require clearly defined job-related skills that can easily be taught through on-the-job training methods. The positions identified by Harvard and Burning Glass tend to have lower-than-average turnover making the return on investment through an apprenticeship more attractive to an employer.

With the world moving towards a new generation of workers there seems to be a renewed interest and momentum in expanding apprenticeship programs into more “new collar” fields in industries like information technology, education, and healthcare. In February, the House of Representatives passed the Apprenticeship Building America Program, a bill that would invest billions of federal dollars in apprenticeship program development and expansion. 


Success Stories 

Using apprenticeships as a way to change career paths is becoming more and more common throughout many different industries. One great example is the Nike apprenticeship program. Hector Avalos and Victor Renderos were two program participants for this program and were intrigued by the opportunity of employment at Nike. Hector worked at an Amazon fulfillment center and Victor was taking courses in early childhood education at a local community college through both felt they needed a change.

After completing a pre-apprenticeship boot camp in coding, the two moved on to full apprenticeships as junior web developers at EasyKicks with Nike. Hector feels the apprenticeship has given him a career direction he was previously lacking. In particular, the mentoring component has opened him up to new possibilities and new ways of thinking. 

When asked how the program has helped him grow and develop Hector responded,

 “I am learning to think outside the box, stretch my imagination, and collaborate to reach outcomes. At school, there was only one solution to every problem. Not here. This is super awesome.”

Hector Avalos, Nike Apprenticeship Program Participant

In Illinois, women make up 2% of skilled trades and earn 23% less than men in the same occupations. These stats alone were reason enough for the Chicago Women in Trade (CWIT) to create the National Center for Women’s Equity in Apprenticeship and its programs such as “Women in Welding”. 

When CWIT realized that women required different support systems they also debuted a  pre-apprenticeship program. For 11-12 weeks, CWIT makes sure women get to their pre-apprenticeship program by providing $75 per week for transportation. Spending an estimated $30,000 per apprentice on everything from training to technical support, it is no wonder the organization boasts that 90% of program participants get hired and are retained in their jobs.


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