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An Apprenticeship FAQ: What Employers Need To Know About Talent Development

Published Thursday, March 18, 2021
by Annelies Goger, Chenoah Sinclair & Aaliyah Dick/
An Apprenticeship FAQ: What Employers Need To Know About Talent Development

Technologies such as automation and artificial intelligence are influencing jobs and workflows across every major industry.  However, businesses that want to deploy them are constrained by their capacity to keep Employee skills up to date and recruit talent familiar with both the new technology and their industry.

Employers will inevitably need to rethink their talent recruitment and staff development strategies.

A way to do this is through Apprenticeship Programs, which enable employers to play a more active role in shaping the talent they need - while also building a culture of ongoing learning and innovation.

Apprenticeships provide long-term, paid, work-based learning opportunities and structured educational curricula that ensure the learner gains education and hands-on experience in an occupation, similar to how we train medical doctors with a mix of classes and residency experience.

Registered Apprenticeships are those that are formally approved by either the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Apprenticeship or a State’s Apprenticeship Agency.

Registration ensures the Apprenticeship meets certain criteria to protect Apprentices (such as a wage progression) and to maintain quality.

Some youth and adult Apprenticeship Pilots offer high-quality structured education and work experience but are not registered.

Short-term work-based learning programs such as internships or staff development programs are not Apprenticeships.

An Apprenticeship System, rather than a one-off program, offers employers the ability to host Apprentices while not having to bear the full costs of starting and maintaining the program themselves.

Historically, in the U.S. Building Trades and Labor Unions have provided most of the funding, coordinating and support functions.

Other industries often rely on community colleges, workforce development boards, industry associations, private Apprentice staffing firms or community-based organizations.

Given the immense costs of higher education in the U.S. and under-production of science and technology graduates, relying on college degrees alone for tech-savvy talent not only excludes most Americans, but it is also not enough to prepare organizations for the future of work.

Low diversity among science and technology college graduates also stunts the ability of employers to boost innovation and produce stronger financial results.

While Black and Latino or Hispanic people make up 30% of adults, they make up only 7% to 8% of people working in computing and mathematical occupations.

Employers’ over-reliance on college degrees as a proxy for skill in hiring reproduces this racial and economic exclusion, while employers pay a premium to compete in an artificially small labor pool because they cannot easily identify quality talent among candidates without a degree.

This is doubly inefficient because diverse teams offer businesses the capacity to reach new markets for products and services.

Modern Apprenticeships offer a talent development approach that on-boards more diverse talent as well as internal infrastructure to create a learning culture.

However, employer buy-in and awareness are major barriers to expanding and modernizing Apprenticeships outside the Trades, such as construction or Electricians.

These barriers are based, in part, on misconceptions or outdated understandings about what Apprenticeships are.

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