US could increase number of apprentices by 'eightfold,' study says
- The number of U.S. apprenticeship occupations could increase three-fold, according to research by Harvard Business School’s Project on Managing the Future of Work and labor market analytics firm Burning Glass Technologies — potentially expanding the number of actual apprentices by "eightfold."
- Researchers found that currently only 27 occupations in the U.S. utilize apprenticeship models, accounting for over 400,000 enrollees. Considering there are over 20 million available jobs in the country, that number could increase significantly. The group examined over 23 million job postings to find occupations that could work within a currently used apprenticeship model.
- "Room to Grow: Identifying New Frontiers for Apprenticeships" considered jobs that met three requirements: a set of specialized skills but no heavy licensing, a living wage and a generally stable workforce. Their findings point to jobs that don’t require a college degree as well as those that request a degree when the work doesn't support its need. They found over 3 million jobs that could be filled by apprentices, many of those in hard-to-fill categories.
Recognizing the pressing need for skills-based hiring, more employers are moving away from the degree requirements of the past.
The Trump Administration is on board, but from a largely business-driven perspective. Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta held the first meeting of the DOL Apprenticeship Task Force, remarking that current U.S. apprenticeship programs "don’t work." According to Acosta, businesses should be in charge of apprenticeship creation and oversight, rather than the government.
At the Third Annual Transatlantic Apprenticeship Exchange Forum at the Urban Institute, the discussion revolved around creation of 5 million high-quality apprenticeship programs, as Trump famously promised to Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff. For apprenticeships to scale, employers and the government need to figure out who is paying, what will be taught and how they will be organized.
As employers continue to search for means to fill the skills gap, an examination of what industries and jobs could benefit from apprenticeship programming could lead to ongoing upskilling for job seekers as well as steady applicant streams for employers.