Are apprenticeships the solution?

From everything we’re reading about apprenticeships, it seems like they’re one of the most favorable solutions. Apprenticeships -


  • Combine traditional classroom or technical education with on-the-job experience. .
  • Are largely used to help youths transition from school or college to the industry.
  • Are no longer limited to manual or menial work, but instead encompass occupations of all kinds, including high-skilled ones like coding, IT, telecommunications and others.
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    No wonder that apprenticeships have become highly popular in the U.S. in recent years, with 585,000 individuals enrolled in over 23,000 apprenticeship programs. Even President Trump has declared that he would like to increase the number of apprenticeships in the States to 5 million.

    You can also read about apprenticeships in the *Jobs Now * 2018 Accenture report -

    So - if that’s the case - could apprenticeships be ‘the solution’ for the future of work? Can they be an efficient tool for training new workers and retraining incumbent ones?

    Would love to know what you think!

    @Klaus, I know apprenticeships are widely used in Germany. Could you tell us more?

    @rkadel42, @dblakels, you may be interested in this discussion as well. Please don’t hesitate to weigh in!

    Thank you for the question @NickOttens!

    Basically, apprenticeships are quite common in Austria, Germany, and Switzerland and in some other European countries. The details differ a bit among countries. In general, an apprenticeship allows persons who leave school at the age of 15 (after compulsory education) to become skilled professionals (mechanics, cooks, hairdressers, clerks, carpenters, plumbers, etc). This is done through a combination of on-the-job training with classroom work. During the apprenticeship, the apprentice gets a basic salary and they are insured. After the programs that tend to last for 3-4 years, a license is given to the apprentice allowing them to work as professionals in their jobs. If they go on they can earn a professional master that allows them to open a shop and employ other professionals with a license as well as apprentices.

    The main advantages are that young people who leave school can get a decent education and that, typically, professionals can expected to be reasonably well trained. The downside is that the system is sometimes not very flexible if you want to change professions, etc.

    Overall, apprenticeships seem to be quite successful in curbing youth unemployment. Since youth unemployment has a negative influence on salaries and employability during the rest of live, I think that apprenticeships could be part of a successful strategy to cope with the challenges regarding the future of work. However, they might not be able to solve all the problems, e.g., some professions might vanish in the course of technological change. In this case, re-training programs might be asked for and it would be an advantage to have a bit more flexibility in changing professions for former apprentices.

    Hope any of these thoughts are useful.

    Thank you, @Klaus !

    @Klaus thank you for sharing more about the apprenticeship model. Are apprenticeships leveraged in Germany or other European countries for older adults re-entering the workforce or changing career paths?

    @Roey I think apprenticeships are a great model - but not a silver bullet. However, I believe at scale they could tackle the ever changing demand for skills which is definitely a challenge for the future of work.

    I agree. They’re not a silver bullet, but I don’t think anything is. I do wonder how we can polish them so that they shine even brighter.