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Get Ahead Of The Skills Shortage With Apprenticeship

By News Creatives Authors , in Leadership , at January 1, 1970

As National Apprenticeship week kicks off across the country, it’s a good reminder the best talent pipelines are built, not bought.

The most competitive businesses have always understood that success rests in the quality and skills of their workforce. The labor market is constantly changing. No longer do businesses have their pick from an array of talented applicants. Job vacancies outnumber available workers by 4.5 million, which translates to 1.7 job vacancies for every available worker.

Traditionally, the way to attract talent in a tight labor market was to increase wages. For many companies, however, this is not an option as they face increased competition and ongoing supply chain issues. In any case, there aren’t enough skilled workers to fill available jobs.

This skills gap has been around for some time, and the Covid pandemic accelerated and amplified that gap. Young workers, in particular, want a better work-life balance, with flexible schedules and the ability to work at least part-time from home. And workers who were in sectors shut down by the pandemic, such as hospitality and tourism, opted not to walk back into jobs with low pay, no flexibility, and little room for advancement. Those jobs aren’t viable in the long run, and many will be overtaken by automation and technological change. Now, workers are looking for jobs with decent pay and room for advancement along a defined career path. They want to learn and keep learning on the job.

Fortunately, there’s a way employee and employer needs in this new labor market can align, and that way is through apprenticeship. Apprenticeship is a proven model for building a highly-skilled workforce tailored to a company’s identified skill needs. Entry-level employees enroll in a structured program where they learn essential skills complimented by classroom learning, leading to a transferable, industry-accepted credential.

Apprentices are paid from the very first day and are guided throughout their training by an experienced employee mentor. A mentor helps the apprentice with not only necessary job skills but also company culture, and more so, new employees feel like part of the workforce from day one. There are apprenticeships in every sector and field, including health care, IT, and finance. And even the more traditional apprenticeships, such as those in manufacturing and construction, are getting more high-tech and high-skilled, with real opportunities for learning and growth. The apprenticeship model is not new. It is a proven method used in many European countries and my native country of Australia for many years. 50% of Germans enter the workforce via apprenticeship programs. And the model is successful for both employees and employers. Statistics show that employers with apprenticeship programs have higher workplace retention rates, on less than market rate salaries than those without.

Creating an apprenticeship program requires cooperation and coordination among the local business community, educational institutions, and employment organizations. It requires a commitment to quality and opportunity for young people in the area. And it requires a long-term view. But a long-term perspective is what’s needed. Companies that see skills training as a vital investment, not a cost, will reap the most benefits. Because the cost of an ongoing skills shortage is likely to be much higher, impeding current profits and future growth.

The process might seem daunting, but if implemented successfully, an apprenticeship program can give you a bespoke workforce that is loyal, engaged, and eager to learn. Taking time to plan and execute an apprenticeship program can put you well ahead of competitors when it comes to attracting and keeping talent. And a loyal, talented workforce is an asset that will pay off for years to come.

National Apprenticeship Week is a nationwide celebration where industry, labor, equity, workforce, education, and government host events to showcase the successes and value of Registered Apprenticeship.


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