America, Kindergarten for Apprenticeships
Time has proven that we learn nothing of value by studying dysfunction. Our most valuable lessons are earned by studying success, even if that success represents a small portion of our culture.
This past year, Donald Trump announced a $200 million dollar budget to provide funding for apprenticeships. Unfortunately, his administration is also gutting much of the Employment Department’s training and development budgets. To some ears, $200 million sounds like a great deal. But, it pales in comparison to countries where apprenticeship programs are among the biggest contributors to robust economies. For example, Germany invests well over 3.6 billion (Euros) per year in helping fund apprenticeships within a wide variety of industries. Germany also has the lowest unemployment rate in the world. My readers know that I hold up underemployment as the real scourge of our economy. Well, in Germany, underemployment is virtually unknown. Let’s do the math. Their total population of Germany is 82 million while we have 323 million citizens. What would happen to our country’s biggest economic and workforce challenges if we were investing $20 billion? What would happen if we also raised our country’s awareness of such an investment?
Leaders in all of our political parties are not telling Americans to get reeducated and to reinvent themselves. Unfortunately, many of today’s under- and unemployed are totally stuck because there are no visible bridges to making a living while learning a modern trade. At the same time, approximately 4.8 million jobs stand empty because employers can’t find people with the skills to fill them. In the United States, apprenticeship dollars are typically devoted to construction, plumbing, and electrical trades. If the United States elevated its apprenticeship initiatives to match the world’s leading programs, we would be developing skilled workers in technology, healthcare, teaching, and more. Right now, fewer than 5 percent of our young people train in apprenticeships.
In Germany, apprenticeships are not a high-minded ideal. Leading organizations such as Bosch, Mercedes, Volkswagen and Deutsche Bank provide dual training because they need talent. Dual training or on-the-job training in Germany torpedoes another long-held American idea that technology means the end of jobs. Today, Germany makes full use of robotics in assembly lines. But the mentality of training has led to a retooling their workers. Today, manufacturing workers are not trained to do repetitive work, they are trained in how to solve problems.
Why is this successful case study so important to us?
Active learning is now a requirement for anyone who wants to be part of the future.
Germany is producing active learners within the very categories of workers that most commonly fall victim to change within our country. What I am proposing is not social welfare. Meaningful apprenticeship initiatives within the United States represent a business investment that is not only paid back, the efforts are amplified through increased tax revenue and fewer burdens on our welfare system. Employers become more profitable because they have the critical talent they need.
In the year ahead, my hope is that we see the emergence in our country of emotional sobriety. On the world stage, we are adolescents. Being the biggest and the richest has not given us the luxury of looking the other way. We have so much to gain if employers, workers, taxpayers, and voters start raising the standards in how we run vital segments of our culture.
Apprenticeships, which are a way of life in many countries, ought to become a way of life in our country. Apprenticeships, a noble and valuable way to stay productive, ought to be one of the first solutions that come to mind when someone finds themselves thrown to the economic curb.
We can do this.
(C) Copyright, 2018, Inspired Work, Inc. – (All Rights Reserved)
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