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Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Apprenticeships Signal Value Better Than Schooling

It turns out that experience may give you a better advantage with employers than more schooling.

When it comes to pursuing a good career and salary, college seems the logical pathway to success.

According to The Wall Street Journal, however, that common wisdom may not always be true. In fact, the college alternative of apprenticeship may actually offer a better chance of employment and a better salary.

The Labor Department said 87% of apprentices in the U.S. are employed after completing their training programs. Workers who complete apprenticeships earn $50,000 annually on average, or higher than the median U.S. annual wage of $44,720. A 2012 study from Mathematica Policy Research found workers who complete apprenticeships make as much as $300,000 more than non-apprenticeship participants over the course of their careers.”

Clearly, those who complete apprenticeships are in hot demand. The question is, why?

Students who pursue apprenticeships set themselves apart from their counterparts who join the crowd pursuing ever more schooling.

It could be that the jobs which apprenticeships normally fill are about to be vacated by the boomers.

It could also be that apprenticeships offer a worker with actual experience, rather than simply a piece of paper.

But I wonder if there is something more to the demand for apprenticeship-trained workers than these options.

Could it be employers recognize that students who pursue apprenticeships have to be willing to buck trends and swim upstream, rather than joining the crowd taking the path to college? And because of this, is it possible that students who pursue apprenticeships might actually be smarter, more creative, more ambitious, and more willing to be hard workers than their counterparts? 

That seems to be the case with Priya Kaur, a London white-collar apprenticeship student being trained in information technology. According to the Hechinger Report, Kaur tried college, but “was frustrated by what she calls the lack of useful knowledge in her ‘generic’ classes.” She’s now “in her third year as a paid IT apprentice working for the city of London, helping city employees with computer troubleshooting, financial reports, and other technical issues.”

Perhaps it’s time we realize that those who opt for the less popular apprenticeship track in higher education might actually be the ones who have the brains to foster true success.

Reprinted from Intellectual Takeout. Note: Praxis, founded by FEE Faculty Network member Isaac Morehouse, offers apprenticeships with start-ups.

  • Annie Holmquist is a cultural commentator hailing from America's heartland who loves classic books, architecture, music, and values. Her writings can be found at Annie's Attic on Substack.