Apprenticeship, a time-tested model of worker training, can help meet the growing demand for skilled workers in the United States. Expanding apprenticeship, however, will require employers to understand its value. While today’s registered apprenticeship programs are high quality, few employers know what an apprenticeship entails or what competencies a potential employee who has completed an apprenticeship possesses. This is especially true in fields other than building and construction, where the majority of apprenticeships are now concentrated. As policymakers look to expand apprenticeships into new sectors and occupations—such as advanced manufacturing, health care, and information technology—it will be crucial to establish apprenticeship as a credible form of certification in the eyes of employers. To accomplish this, employers should develop industrywide standards that validate that a worker who has successfully completed an apprenticeship possesses the specific knowledge and competencies required for employment in that industry.
By developing a robust apprenticeship system, the United States can better meet business demand for skilled labor and strengthen its competiveness in the global economy. Today more than ever, the United States requires new tools to equip workers with the skills employers need. Almost half of all U.S. employers report that they have a hard time filling jobs because candidates lack technical competencies. By 2020, the nation will experience a shortage of 3 million workers with associate’s degrees or higher and a shortage of about 5 million workers with technical certificates and credentials, according to a Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce analysis.
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