Negative Stereotypes Limit the Use of Apprenticeships

According to research by the U.S. Department of Labor, apprenticeships over the decade from 2003-2013 fell 40 percent, the Wall Street Journal reported. That is despite the gap in skills between those sought by companies to fill job openings, and the applicants themselves who apply for the openings. And while apprenticeships can offer a way for workers to develop the needed skills, training and experience sought by companies, neither companies nor legislators are exactly embracing the idea of increasing the number of apprenticeships.

The question is, why is a possibly solution – a possible win-win for energy employers and workers – not more uniformly welcomed?

One of the reasons is that historically, apprenticeships have an association with labor unions, and that is still the image conjured up by hiring authorities, who seem to fear that an apprentice worker might begin a movement to unionize the company, J. Ronald DeJuliius, head of labor and industry at Maryland’s Department of Labor, told the Wall Street Journal.

Another reason is that for many, apprenticeships are linked to blue-collar jobs, particularly those in the construction industry, Robert Lerman, professor of economics at American University, told the Wall Street Journal.

However, there are a wide variety of industries using apprenticeships; they are not just for blue-collar industries, according to the UK’s The Guardian newspaper. Apprenticeships are not ways to get cheap labor. Instead, they should be considered as a long-term investment in the worker serving as the apprentice, The Guardian said.

There are advantages to using an apprentice, rather than hiring a more experienced worker. Often, workers with extensive experience at other companies may need to unlearn certain ways of doing tasks, while an apprentice can be shaped by a company and trained to do things within the company’s specific practices. It is also an effective way to develop loyalty in the apprentice, who may one day be a regular employee at the company.

In the UK, government has made a pledge to fund 100,000 additional apprenticeships before December 2015, The Guardian said. In the United States, states often have training programs for apprentices. In Texas, the Texas Workforce Commission has an Apprenticeship Training Program that is registered through the U.S. Department of Labor Office of Apprenticeship.


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