- Through a new Colorado internship program called Careerwise Colorado, 116 students from four school districts have been placed with 40 employers this year in high-wage, high-demand fields where they will earn three years of on-the-job experience, a credential, about $30,000 in wages, and a year of college credit, according to The Hechinger Report.
- The apprenticeships, which begin in the summer before a student’s junior year and end one year after high school graduation, also benefit businesses by opening new talent pools and allowing them to see a financial return on their investment by the third year, which should make the program sustainable.
- The biggest obstacle to recruiting students seems to be the attitude of some parents and counselors who compare the program to traditional vocational educational programs and fear that it will be a second-tier alternative to college.
A 2016 report by Education Trust entitled “Meandering Toward Graduation: Transcript Outcomes of High School Graduates” stated that, “Over and over again, educators and policymakers alike mouth the mantra: ALL kids ready for college and careers. But there remains a giant gulf between that rhetoric and the reality of today’s high school graduates. Among recent graduates, fewer than 1 in 10 have taken a foundational set of courses they’d need to be both college- and career-ready. And almost half completed neither a college-prep nor a career-prep course sequence.”
In a rapidly-shifting and future-oriented job market, schools need to do a better job of preparing students for what lies ahead. While many high-paying jobs still require college degrees, technical skills and experience are more highly-prized than ever. That is why many companies are seeing the age-old concept of apprenticeships, which is working well in Europe today, as a solution to finding qualified employees. This is also often a solution for students, as well, because it allows them to get the skills and education they need without as much college debt.
The idea of apprenticeships is a bipartisan one and has been touted as important to our nation's future by both former President Barack Obama and by President Donald Trump. However, schools alone are not equipped to deal with the time and expertise it takes to form business relationships and set up internship programs. That is where organizations like CareerWise Colorado and the Pathways to Prosperity Network come in. Though these programs are not offered in all states, most either have or are in the process of forming similar networks. Administrators can likely find this information by contacting either the State Board of Education or their State Chamber of Commerce to find out how to connect with any apprenticeship programs in the area.