A Look at Apprenticeships: Are They the New Future of Work?

Working as an apprentice is one of the oldest forms of education in the world. For centuries, apprenticeships have served as a way for young students to learn highly specialized skills from masters in various fields.

Fast forward several hundred years, and apprenticeships are viewed with a bit of disdain. Sometimes, they’re even seen as an easy way for students to avoid continuing their education. Luckily for the world economy, that stigma is beginning to fade more and more every day. Now, more than ever, apprenticeships are becoming a viable option for students as they start looking for jobs and setting out on their career path.

Working in an apprenticeship is a way to continue your education while still getting real-world job experience, the kind you can’t ever truly replicate in a classroom. Here are some ways that apprenticeships are changing the future of work today.

What Is an Apprenticeship?

Both apprenticeships and internships are commonly thought of as ways for students to gain experience—and they certainly are that. But there are some important differences between them that are worth considering.

Internships are primarily a surface-level type of introduction to a particular job or career path. These are jobs aimed at people who still aren’t completely sure what it is they want to do.

Apprenticeships, by contrast, are roles designed for those who are already fairly certain of what career path they want to pursue. An apprenticeship gives them a way to learn and get real, in-depth knowledge and training on the job. Additionally, apprenticeships are typically paid jobs, and though some internships do pay, most are unpaid.

Tech Jobs

The tech industry, in general, is facing something of a crisis—there is a shortage of workers to fill specialized skills-based jobs, such as data analysts and software engineers.

Some projections show that the tech industry has the potential to generate as many as 8 million new jobs by the year 2023. Unfortunately, there simply aren’t enough people entering the workforce with the right skill sets to fill those roles.

While there are more than 500,000 open jobs in computer science, just 63,744 students graduated with a degree in computer science. Because of these issues, many big-name companies are turning to a new method of hiring to get new talent in the door. Rather than simply offering big salaries to try and entice people to their available open jobs, companies are now forced to take some time to actually develop that talent by offering on-the-job training. In theory, this shift could offer the tech industry the opportunity to diversify its workers, bringing in previously unseen talent.

Why Turn to Apprenticeships?

Though apprenticeships have fallen out of favor, it’s time to bring back the apprenticeship as a valid alternative to a college education. More and more Americans have come to regret the money they spent on their college degrees, which comes as no surprise when you consider that, collectively, Americans hold a record-breaking $1.5 trillion dollars in student loan debt.

Apprenticeships pay you to learn alongside a master of the trade. Though in the past apprenticeships were associated with particular skills like blacksmithing, jewelry making, or other types of artisan work, today, any field could offer an apprenticeship.

In an apprenticeship, students get a chance to work closely with an accomplished professional in their chosen field, gaining invaluable experience in an actual work situation rather than relying simply on classroom theory.

Instruction that takes place through actual work is a particularly effective method of learning, and it can be especially effective for individuals who struggle in a traditional classroom environment.

Various apprenticeships offered through different employers also help ensure that trade schools and other classroom environments are tailoring their curricula to best reflect the needed skills for an actual job situation. This helps students graduating from school programs become better prepared to start an apprenticeship, and therefore, for the job itself.

These apprenticeship programs are also a way to avoid the dreaded “unemployed new graduate” situation. Many students in an apprenticeship are immediately transitioned into employment after completing the program. This way, employers can specially train new employees to meet their specific needs.

Studies as far back as 2012 showed that those participating in apprenticeship programs ended up earning nearly $240,000 more over their lifetimes than those who did not take part in an apprenticeship.

Not only do apprenticeships help employers get exactly who they need, but also, they help employees make more money and develop the skills necessary to get hired at the job of their dreams.