9.3 million Americans are unemployed, but 4.8 million jobs remain empty because employers can’t find people to fill them. That’s a problem. But there’s a fix, and the solution is apprenticeships. This is not only because we need better training programs for employees, but because Americans now have over $1.3 trillion in college debt, and this number will only continue to grow. Since apprenticeships offer on-the-job training without the debt that college has tied to it, I see a shift of how education and training is offered in the next ten years.
With FREE online MBA-like courses, $10 books such as The Personal MBA: Master the Art of Business, and TED talks from the world’s most brilliant minds that are also being offered at no cost, I can guarantee that technology will change the entire education landscape. Employers will also evolve and realize that information can be consumed in many other ways besides traditional education and that there is no replacement for hands-on training. Also, would-be students will be enticed by getting a earlier start on their profession while not having to be crushed by the weight of student loans. (In no way am I saying that you shouldn’t attend college if your wanted career requires a degree, but I am saying that in the next ten years there will be other routes to your preferred profession.) But no matter what happens, either the cost of attending college lowers, student loan debt is figured out, employers change their requirements for available positions, or the amount of apprenticeships grow exponentially — I see no other options.
Apprenticeships get people in the door, fill the 4.8 million available jobs, and get people moving in the right direction. Switzerland has adopted an apprenticeship model and has seen great success with it. This can be seen in the youth unemployment rate being 3.6%, compared to the US youth unemployment being 16.3%. Apprenticeships push youth to take action sooner rather than later, instead of forcing them to figure everything out on their own. Even if apprentices don’t to end up in their field of training, it would at the very least give them work experience and allow them to work alongside other skilled employees to learn valuable takeaways for the future.
Although Germany is more known for its apprenticeship system, Switzerland probably has the best opportunities available for citizens of any country once they complete the program. Students have many different possibilities within business, design, sciences, and more upon completing their training. I tell you all of this to show you that it is possible to implement apprenticeship programs on a large scale and make them work. Countries are already showing that in doing so, unemployment can be lowered at the same time.
The good news is that the United States is headed in the right direction. In September of 2015, the Labor Department awarded $175 million to 46 colleges, non-profits, and others to train and hire 34,000 apprentices over the next 5 years. But, there is still much more work to do in order to make apprenticeships a viable option for more people in the future.