Apprenticeships: 5 Reasons Why Now is the Time to Get on Board

Find out the five key reasons you need to build an apprenticeship program right now (hint: there’s free money involved).

February 11, 2024

As technology continues to outpace traditional schooling’s ability to educate, on-the-job training is crucial to upskilling your current employees into management, building a pipeline of entry-level talent, and driving results for your DEI strategy. 

Moreover, there is free money up for grabs to train workers – which is why your company should get on board with apprenticeship programs pronto. 

1. It's challenging to recruit entry-level workers.

There is a widening income gap between those who have college degrees and those who don't. And don't get it twisted – it's not because people with college degrees are making more money (that's an entirely different issue); it's because people without degrees are making less. 

Why is that?

Well, partially because of the decades-long trend of manufacturing jobs leaving the United States. The other part is that employers require degrees for entry-level positions with no real justification.

So what do apprenticeships do? 

They tell candidates that you're investing in their future. Entry-level workers are looking for jobs that will send them down a stable career path. By adding an apprenticeship program to your organization, you're opening up the candidate pool to better and more eager applicants who are willing to learn and grow with you.

2. Management roles are expensive to fill.

It's common knowledge that it's a lot cheaper and more lucrative to sell to an existing customer than it is to acquire a new one. The same rule applies to employees.

Far too often, I see job postings from companies looking for “unicorn” – a person who has all of the skills required to match up with their exact organizational needs. That person is almost always going to be expensive to hire.

Meanwhile, there are employees already working within those businesses who are uninspired, bored, and ready to look for other jobs. Instead of going through the costly rigamarole of recruiting outside the organization - it's time to look inward. 

Hiring managers have an incredible opportunity to build their own unicorn with upskilling programs that will fill the future needs of their business. It's as easy as curating free or low-cost content that already exists on the internet with set parameters and comprehension checkpoints. 

It's a lot easier to train and promote employees who already understand your core values and goals and backfill the positions they're leaving behind. If you don't, you risk losing good workers who ultimately check out and move on when they don't feel like they have an opportunity for career advancement. The cost of external recruiting and the risk of turnover far outweighs the cost of investing in people you already have. Plus, it's just the right thing to do.

3. It is a tangible DEI strategy. 

There’s a false belief that there aren't enough qualified people in underrepresented classes to fill open positions. It's just simply not true, and it seems like people are finally starting to fess up to that lie. But are they actually doing anything about it?

Every job post that says your company is looking for a "rockstar" automatically eliminates at least half the talent pool. You know who doesn't give a shit about rockstars? People who don't like rock. People don't want to be rockstars. They don't care. To be blunt - it's just stupid alpha language. And it signals to workers that your company, above all else, is a bro shop.

The way you language a job post is a manifestation of what you believe. If you believe that you actually value diversity, your job needs to look that way. Provide an opportunity for diverse candidates to self-select by emphasizing skills.

Apprenticeships add more diversity to your workforce and provide upskilling opportunities to underrepresented classes. This is a path to promotion for women, people of color, people with disabilities – people who would otherwise never apply to your open position because they do not care about being "rockstars."

4. Grant money is out there for the taking. 

In February of 2021, Congress passed a bipartisan National Apprenticeship Act that would pump $3.5 billion into the federal apprenticeship system, creating an additional one million opportunities. And the good news is, the money is there for the taking no matter what year it is. The government is flooding the market with capital to solve this workforce debacle, but the problem is that they can't do much beyond acting as a piggy bank.

Business educators are taking advantage of this system. They secure millions of dollars in grant money and essentially act as a middle man to sell their courses to employers interested in apprenticeships. It's not a flawed system, but you don't need them. You can create a program on your own. Apprentix makes it incredibly easy to take the grant money that's out there and funnel it into a custom-built apprenticeship program right in the app. Imagine this scenario:

You hire someone for $30k a year, and the government grants you $10k in training costs. You do three of those, and you essentially get your fourth apprentice hire for free. That's huge. Now that you've got funding covered - what are you waiting for?

5. Degree inflation is leaving an entire talent pool untapped.

Universities have become really good at convincing society of their value. What's happened as a result – the market is overloaded with jobs that require a degree. Jobs that previously didn't require a degree. Jobs that don't need a degree. 

As of 2020, less than half of the US population age 25 and older have graduated from a four-year university1. So you've got most candidates automatically being screened out for what? Just because they didn't go to college doesn't mean they don't necessarily have the desired skills for the job. There are many ways to acquire skills that don't involve being in a classroom.

Employers that embrace apprenticeships are in a position to hire someone at a lower cost than a college grad who is open to being coached and trained. And on the flip side, they’re creating value for someone more likely to retain and be productive.

If you view your employees as assets to your company – remember that assets appreciate, but they can also depreciate. Apprenticeship programs have a competitive advantage over college education because as an employer, you're already staying on top of changing tides in your business in real-time. That means you're able to educate your people in real-time too.

On the other hand, degree holders likely received an outdated curriculum by the time they graduated and are ready to work. 

In sum, when the job market zags…zig. Buck the trend and see how it transforms your business for the better.



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