For More and More Millennials, an Apprenticeship is a Surer Thing Than a College Degree

If you had to choose between job-prep that costs thousands of dollars and could leave you with no clear career path or job-prep that pays you a wage to learn high-demand skills, which would you pick? When you put it that way, most people would opt for the latter, and data is showing that more and more millennials agree. As Labor Secretary Thomas Perez says, apprenticeships are “the other college, except without the debt.”

Apprenticeships are typically a combination of classroom instruction at a trade school or community college and hands-on instruction from mentors. Since apprentices earn a wage for their work  and tuition is typically covered by a grant or the employer, many young people are finding that this really is a better alternative to a college degree. Millennials who have finished their apprenticeships are even finding that their new skills are so marketable that the average starting salary is $50,000.

So what does this mean for the skills gap and the future of manufacturing? If there’s ever a time for an apprenticeship boom, it’s now: as Baby Boomers begin to retire, having a mentee to whom they can pass on their knowledge is an excellent way to ensure that the years of experience held by these shop floor veterans are not lost. According to the Labor Department, the number of registered apprentices rose by over 27,000 between September 2014 and September 2015, and estimates show a similar number of unregistered apprentices.

If your company doesn’t have an apprenticeship program already in place but you’re interested in knowing what it takes to start one, check out these great resources.


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