It’s easy to think about apprenticeships as a relic of bygone years for cobblers and philosophers. But it does have a place in today’s world, albeit with a modern understanding and application. An apprenticeship is “a position as an apprentice: an arrangement in which someone learns an art, trade, or job under another.” Historically, apprenticeships have been a backbone of society as chefs and builders and craftspeople passed on vital skills and trades to younger generations. As skills that were necessary for the survival of their families or civilizations, the stakes were high. Students often lived with their masters for years before they were considered worthy of taking over the craft and practicing on their own. The title of a “master” was hard won. For a modern apprenticeship story, please do yourself a favor and watch Jiro Dreams of Sushi.
Today, apprenticeship is simply a formal, organized system of On-The-Job Training (OJT) with the eventual goal of training a worker to the point of competency. An apprenticeship is decidedly different from an internship in a few key ways.
What’s the difference between apprenticeship and internship?
Internships offer temporary, usually short-term roles, often in exchange for college credit. Along with many people’s lived experiences, movies like The Devil Wears Prada have given internships a bad rap as a place where unpaid, under-appreciated, and usually very young workers are likely to do entry-level work. They may or may not have a designated mentor.
Apprenticeship programs, on the other hand, are paid programs that teach skills for specific industries. Training is usually done in a combination of classroom instruction and on-the-job training. Apprentices work closely with a mentor and upon completion of the program, the majority of workers who complete an apprenticeship program go on to retain employment.
What types of apprenticeship programs does the DOL support?
The US Department of Labor approves A Registered Apprenticeship Program hat has been validated by the DOL or State Apprenticeship Agency as well as an Industry-Recognized Apprenticeship Program, which is recognized by a Standards Recognition Entity in accordance with the DOL’s standards.
Apprenticeships can make filling the talent gap so much easier and more effective by:
- Allowing you to recruit diverse workers
- Improving your productivity
- Reducing turnover and improving company culture
Are there financial benefits?
Well yes, as it turns out. In addition to the likelihood of training and hiring solid workers, the US Department of Labor has about $87.5 million in grants available for qualifying apprenticeship programs. Up to $40 million of those funds will be awarded to states that implement required diversity, equity and inclusion efforts.
What organizations benefit from apprenticeships?
Union trade organizations are well established in the apprenticeship world while the IT, healthcare, and insurance sectors are relative newcomers. Many organizations are expanding and seeking ways to bolster their talent pools for both contingent workers and direct employees. These programs can benefit everyone, including HR and contingent workforce managers. Apprenticeship isn’t just for skilled trades and union jobs, it can work for many types of roles. Look for ways to educate workers while providing ORJ training and you could score big on the talent front as well as from government funded programs. Check out the DOJ information here and see what it might be able to do for your company.