On Apprenticeships: Because Zip Codes Should Never Determine Destiny

December 16

What comes to mind when you think of The Apprentice?
It is both the noun and a verb, and chances are your immediate, or emotional response was probably not to think about a learner or the squire who pulled the sword from the stone, but about the Donald.  That is unfortunate in my opinion, and probably a by-product of NBC’s branding of Trump’s TV game show. One might say we need to de-program this out of the American psyche. Let’s try and re-brand what it means to be an apprentice and take back the term to its’ most noblest of roots. I have to admit being in the recruitment industry I used to enjoy the guilty pleasure of watching it, even joining my then toddlers do the “money dance” to the O’Jays hit song. Seriously though whomsoever may step into the White House and please let us all put our personal politics aside for a moment, I hope he or she will consider continued efforts in regards to providing a path to employment from volunteerism. *

“In September, Pres­id­ent Obama an­nounced that the De­part­ment of Labor had awar­ded $175 mil­lion in Amer­ic­an Ap­pren­tice­ship Grants to 46 pub­lic-private part­ner­ships in an ef­fort to train more than 34,000 people over the next five years. In his open­ing re­marks, Perez high­lighted this in­vest­ment and said ap­pren­tice­ship should be ex­pan­ded in­to oth­er high-growth areas, such as health care, in­form­a­tion tech­no­logy, and cy­ber­se­cur­ity. Obama’s goal, stated in his 2014 State of the Uni­on ad­dress, is to double the number of ap­pren­tice­ships by 2019—a man­tra Sec. Perez called “double and di­ver­si­fy.” 
– Source DOL ETA News

In regards to Re-skilling the under-employed or unemployed and given all the speculation about “the future of work” apprenticeships work. That is why the Administration is pushing forward more apprenticeship opportunities as a viable means to better outcomes.  Enlistment recruitment initiatives that helped the Defense Department address shortfalls in recruiting an all-voluntary force had sought to allow for military service to serve as a path to citizenship. All the discussions about funding for community colleges speak to this type of an approach.

The simple fact is that education is the key as it was for our parents that immigrated to this great melting pot. Just as an apprentice perhaps may conjure medieval notions of fiefdoms and knights sworn to service of their kings or queens; was it not the squire whom often stood vulnerable to the perils of battle around them dutifully sworn to serve? Then as now it requires being on the front lines and romantic images of a bygone era aside; when youth was forced to enter the cold, harsh world of adulthood only to find paying ones’ dues meant hard times ahead the specter at least presented a way forward out of indentured servitude to a brighter future. It meant short-term pain and suffering perhaps but held promise and hope for those coming of age, and through that journey and set of experiences the attainment and mastery of skills learned and knowledge transferred in one’s chosen field of endeavor albeit military or as a trades craftsman. Ultimately one could argue the apprentice evolved European society to position itself for the last Industrial Revolution from a historical perspective.

A path to employment for our returning Veterans and our nation’s youth is an essential ingredient to reducing entitlement spending. But more can and is being done all around us. That is why I for one am all for building a path to employment from volunteerism. Any community or organization benefits from volunteers and to incent those with aspirations to advance or volunteer must be supported by proper remuneration and a system that rewards continuous learning, achievement, and innovation. Frankly, we probably need more than the 35,000 apprentices that are beginning a journey, and not for the sake of the almighty dollar or altruism but the betterment of our communities and in the companies that drive our economic engine. Only from learning and exploration comes gained experience and tacit knowledge transfer, when the cost of an education is prohibitive.

Volunteers, Veterans, and Millennials, in fact, do share a common characteristic with Gen Z, and one that I hope recruiting professionals, C-Suite level, and HR will also find of heuristic value as an important trend to keep an eye upon in the sharing economy. Gen Z the first generation born in the 21st Century, shaped by the world at risk intends to make CSR a business norm.* Bill Roth makes an excellent case in his blog post “while the millennial generation was focused on getting a college education to secure a good job, Generation Z plans to take entrepreneurial action to control their own destiny.” As we head into Veterans Day 2015 the activities, parades, and accolades on the merits of hiring Veterans this next week, I am pleased to see that the Administration intends on bringing new programs to the task that can address renewed outreach and expansion of funding for apprenticeships.

Let’s continue to spur this movement that has been growing over the past decade to brand the Veteran as a trusted workforce asset.

 ApprenticeUSA gives our Veterans and everyone the tools and support enacted by leaders across Corporations, Non-Profits, the Department of Labor and others in Academia.

Kudos to the Corporation for National & Community Service, U.S. Chamber of Commerce and their sponsors on this great work. Look out for the launch a new toolkit being released on Nov. 12th and get access to the Talent Pipeline Management Toolkit click here then and take part in developing a workforce strategy for the 21st century of your own. If you’re seeking to align resources and investment that can lead to similar efforts reach out to members of the Independent College Promise Advisory Board.  Not unlike Community Development Block Grants in the days of yore, we need to build value and equity and should see sound investments in employer collaboratives, education funding, as well as the myriad of new ideas this year.  What may be raising eyebrows here and in Canada at the Ministry of Labour, is that there is an effort underway for cracking down on reports of unpaid internships in media firms. HR professionals there are responding to strong criticisms of the practice as noted in a recent article “Should unpaid internships end? HR industry seems to agree”.  

Let’s green light more funding for these types of programs on the public sector front to enable citizens more access to affordable education, certification, and reintegration resources if we intend to address Veteran and youth unemployment in our under-served and rural communities.  Support from the private sector and academia will be required to sustain these efforts, however. In regards to the STEM, talent shortages, workforce development programs and the battles that await ahead well….let’s just say at this point the middle class needs some relief already.  Next week, thank a Veteran and get involved, as this is just the first National Apprentice Week ever so be sure to email Apprenticeship.USA@dol.gov or click here for more info www.doleta.gov/oa/naw

References: 

FACT SHEET: Providing more Americans with affordable access to education and job training opportunities to help grow the middle class

* How Generation Z will make CSR a business Norm

Should unpaid internships end? HR industry seems to agree

* How we should Educate and Train Workers in the 21st Century 

Views expressed are my own,  
@JohnBersentes
#ApprenticeshipWorks  #NAW2015

 

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