Apprenticeships Help Build Diverse Talent Pools
As the country gradually moves back to work, many companies will be looking at ways they can bolster their workforce to meet the growing worker demands as a result of the pandemic. Multiple organizations will be considering options like direct sourcing, talent clouds, online staffing, and upskilling workers, though none of these solutions are as viable as apprenticeship programs. Apprenticeship programs can be molded to almost any industry and have grown out of the stereotype that they are reserved for skilled trades and union jobs.
The increase in interest from employers is thought to stem from a new focus on helping advance an equitable economic recovery. While the pandemic has impacted just about everyone, some communities have been harder hit than others. Corinna Pereira Director of Apprenticeship Programs at West Hills College discusses the importance of apprenticeships stating,
For the employer, apprenticeships build up a pipeline and a homegrown workforce, apprenticeship training can address important rural area labor market deficiencies. We’re grateful to our committed industry partners, who believe in this important initiative and are taking steps to ensure there are highly qualified professionals being trained to enter the workforce.”
Corinna Pereira, Director of Apprenticeship Programs at West Hills College
With more and more employers implementing workforce development programs, many have found that apprenticeship programs are the best solution to filling worker shortages, eliminating skill gaps, and helping to create a more productive and diverse workforce. A report conducted by the U.S Department of Labor discovered that between 2011 and 2020 the number of new apprenticeship participants grew by almost 70% across the country. If you look closely it’s simple to see why apprenticeship programs are gaining so much popularity as employers report multiple benefits including, savings on overtime expenses, increased revenue, and productivity, lower recruitment costs as well as lower employee turnover.
Image provided by 425 Business and the U.S. Department of Labor
How Apprenticeships Can Provide Upward Mobility
As companies look to bounce back from the effects of the ongoing pandemic, apprenticeship programs will play a key role in our country's recovery. 92% of companies that currently run apprenticeship programs have seen increased motivation as well as a more satisfied workforce, these same companies also report 80% higher employee retention rates. Apprenticeships not only help employees but also greatly benefit the participant as people who start and complete an apprenticeship program gain crucial industry knowledge that will help them create a long-term career solution with opportunities for upward mobility.
One example of social mobility through apprenticeships is a San Diego-based program created by the San Diego Workforce Partnership that is aimed at removing financial barriers for careers in software engineering dedicated to Southern California job seekers. The program is called Creating Coding Careers and was created with the intent to address skill shortages in San Diego’s tech industries by training participants who struggle to pay up-front education costs.
“For too many San Diegans, the cost of acquiring the skills and education to launch a software engineering career bars them from pursuing opportunities for social and economic mobility. This is about creating a new, sustainable model of workforce development that can also help employers address pressing tech talent shortages.”
Peter Callstrom, CEO of Workforce Partnership
Apprenticeships help to create access to jobs for those who may not necessarily have the same opportunities as others, making apprenticeships crucial to helping rebuild our middle-class workforce. The fact that apprenticeships do not require any entry credentials or bachelor’s degree allows for a level of social mobility that will only benefit our country's workforce by creating alternative pathways to well-paying careers in industries that people want to work in. Studies have shown that underrepresented workers who complete apprenticeship programs see a direct increase in earnings than their peers who may have taken a more traditional college path.
Closing the Equity Gap Through Apprenticeships
Interest in apprenticeship programs has continued to grow and federal funding has made program access available to more potential participants across the nation. We are now seeing the age-old model often associated with blue-collar jobs and labor unions further expanded into a vast array of industries including health care, cybersecurity, and IT. Corporate giants like Amazon, Google, and Lockheed Martin have developed or expanded their internal apprenticeship programs due to their success.
Image Provided By Tech Quest Apprenticeship
Apprenticeship programs are a great option to help build critical on-the-job training for a generation of workers who have been displaced by the pandemic and may need to retrain for new occupations and industries. There are a few top programs hoping to address some of these equity gaps. For example, Aon’s apprenticeship program provides opportunities in insurance, cybersecurity, and human resources where diverse learners can develop vital skills in the workplace, allowing them to earn, learn, and rise through their company's ranks. Just last year, the firm announced it was increasing its diversity efforts through a partnership with OneTen, a group of corporate CEOs working to see one million Black Americans hired into family-sustaining jobs with opportunities for advancement throughout the next ten years.
This new access to employment opportunities will allow many young people looking for work the opportunity to earn while they learn while receiving an average annual wage of $70,000 upon their graduation with increased lifetime earnings. The United States has added more than 200,000 new apprentices every year for the past three years. Even with the added declines caused by the economic crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic, federal Registered Apprenticeship programs still posted their third-highest gains in their 84-year history.
Next Steps for Building Future Success
Apprenticeship programs will be the driving force in eliminating any company's skills gap by training participants for the millions of jobs that go unfilled. With apprenticeships, people will be able to receive that combination of on-the-job training and classroom instruction while also being provided an opportunity to get their foot in the door in the job market, a crucial step in promoting social mobility through apprenticeships. Not only will apprenticeships increase access to well-paying jobs they also have carved out an alternative pathway to higher education. These two aspects of apprenticeships can help benefit our economy greatly with the potential to increase earnings as well as reduce occupational segregation within the job market.
Despite the plethora of benefits, apprenticeships provide upon implementation, adoption of these programs across the U.S. still trails many other leading countries overseas. The United Kingdom declared that, if apprentices experience a break in learning, government funding for apprenticeships will not be at risk. The government will also help apprentices find alternative work if needed. In Germany, apprenticeships were used extensively during the Great Recession as well as recently with repercussions of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic where they supported a quicker economic rebound. Through these programs, Germany has avoided many unnecessary layoffs of apprentices during the pandemic allowing them to cover more workers and businesses to jumpstart a faster recovery. The next step to building more inclusive workplaces while creating jobs with benefits and room for upward mobility starts with the implementation of apprenticeships in the workplace across the United States.