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The ‘Future’ Of Apprenticeships - More People Are Talking About ‘How To Make Apprenticeships Remote’ After The COVID-19 Pandemic…

But Experts ‘Worry Remote Experiences Can't Provide What Makes Them Most Successful, Even If They Could Broaden Access’

Published Sunday, June 28, 2020
by Madeline St. Amour/
The ‘Future’ Of Apprenticeships - More People Are Talking About ‘How To Make Apprenticeships Remote’ After The COVID-19 Pandemic…

Virtual Apprenticeships could be a boon to the future, some experts say.

They would open up opportunities for those with disabilities that make working in an office difficult or provide greater access to those in areas with a dearth of Apprenticeship options.

But virtual options could lack the important pieces of Apprenticeships that make them successful, others say.

Nationally, Registered Apprenticeships require two components: Classroom learning; and on-the-job training with a mentor.

When the COVID-19 Pandemic hit, both pieces had to scramble to move on-line.

"This is an area where we’re working with the (U.S. Department of Labor) ‘to show’ that our sector, like many other non-traditional sectors, ‘can have different’ operating styles," said Jennifer Carlson, Executive Director and Co-Founder of Apprenti, a Tech Apprenticeship Program. "This will be a ‘great proof point to show that people are still able to do well.’"

None of the nearly 1,000 Apprentices in the Apprenti Program have been laid off or furloughed, according to Carlson.

The program quickly pivoted to on-line education for the learning requirements and it is working with companies to help Apprentices continue their on-the-job training at home.

Other companies are getting into the virtual Apprenticeship market, as well.

Catalyte, which offers Information Technology Apprenticeships, is pivoting its programming to be virtual, including the mentorship piece, according to Stephen Yadzinski, the Acting General Manager for JFFLabs.

Transfr VR is creating opportunities for virtual reality-based Apprenticeships in manufacturing.

Interplay Learning provides on-line training for jobs in the Skilled Trades.

While some of these companies have been working on these developments for years, Yadzinski is seeing a flood of interest now given the pandemic: "We ‘expect to see a huge range of innovations to support remote’ learning.  ‘We also think this will permanently change the digital footprint of Apprenticeships.’"

But some aren't so sure that virtual Apprenticeships would work for the vast majority of industries.

Much of the Apprenticeship experience is best done in person, said Eric Seleznow, a Senior Adviser and Director of Jobs for the Future's Center for Apprenticeship and Work-Based Learning.

Apprentices learn to show up to work on time, how to work in teams and, in some cases, how to use machinery.

They also receive coaching from a mentor, which many experts highlight as one of the key aspects of Apprenticeships.

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