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Apprenticeships in US – A new national organization to expanding it

Apprenticeships for America (AFA), a nonprofit focused on expanding apprenticeship programs nationwide, launched today amid urgent demand for new education and training approaches that better connect America’s workers to in-demand jobs and rewarding careers in an increasingly dynamic economy.

“Despite decades of evidence that apprenticeships are among the most effective paths to economic mobility, they are both poorly understood and inadequately funded at all levels of the U.S. government,” said Robert I. Lerman, Institute Fellow at the Urban Institute and Chairman of the Board at the new organization. “Today we have a record number of unfilled jobs, including 2 million in professional and business services. Given the track record of apprenticeships, we must explore how to apply the model across many sectors of the U.S. economy. Our goal is to make registered apprenticeship a mainstream, widely available component of how the U.S. prepares young people f or quality jobs and sustainable careers.”

Apprenticeships for America was founded to respond to the challenges facing a strained and overburdened U.S. labor market. The record 11 million unfilled jobs reflects a growing skills mismatch, despite rising college attendance and graduation rates over the last decade. The U.S. education and training system is not up to the task of ensuring that all workers gain the skills employers are seeking. Too many students fall short in pursuing degrees yet end up with excessive student debt. The “academic only” emphasis of schooling often fails those who learn best by doing. Employers become frustrated with the dearth of candidates with the relevant occupational and employability skills, yet too few employers provide the work-based learning vital to achieving a skilled workforce.

The apprenticeship model, in which mostly early-career workers receive training alongside the benefits of full-time employees, is recognized worldwide as the most cost-effective approach to equipping individuals, especially young people, with the technical skills and training required to transition successfully into long-term skilled careers. Yet, in comparison with major industrial economies, registered apprenticeship programs are underutilized by U.S. employers: despite increases over the past generation, U.S. apprenticeships are only one-eighth the level of peer countries such as the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia.

“For decades, policymakers have sought to expand apprenticeships into newer and expanding growth industries,” said Ann Marie Stieritz, the founding director of Apprenticeship Carolina who will serve as a board member for Apprenticeships for America. “In South Carolina, we’ve seen the accelerating impact of intermediary organizations on the ability to expand the ‘learn-to-earn’ apprenticeship model across diverse sectors of our economy. Apprenticeships for America will advocate for scaling registered apprenticeships in tech, healthcare, and other fast-growing sectors by focusing on the role of these intermediary entities and networking with them for broader impact.”

Apprenticeships for America aims to help the United States bring registered apprenticeships to the scale experienced by other advanced economies, such as Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom. AFA’s multi-pronged strategy for building a robust, sustainable apprenticeship system will include research, advocacy, and grassroots mobilization. AFA will establish the American Apprenticeship Network to enhance collaboration among intermediaries, employers, service providers, schools, and other apprenticeship sponsors, labor representatives, and researchers. The organization will initially focus on strengthening the role of intermediaries such as unions, business services companies, industry associations, staffing companies, nonprofits, and government agencies, which – as demonstrated in other countries – have the potential to organize and sell apprenticeship programs to employers.

“Apprenticeships provide a clear pathway to good jobs. As policymakers and employers alike double down on getting Americans not only back to work, but also into family-sustaining careers, apprenticeships need to be part of the solution,” said Sean Cartwright, the founding executive director of AFA who also served as chief of staff for the Employment and Training Administration at the U.S. Department of Labor in the Obama administration. “We’re seeing incredible innovation and demand across our sector right now. We aim to collaborate with intermediaries, researchers, and funders alike to accelerate the momentum for apprenticeships and ultimately ensure that Americans have access to the best pathways to meet their career aspirations.”

Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor. Read the whole story @  New National Organization to Focus on Expanding Apprenticeships Across the U.S. Economy — Apprenticeships for America

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