If you own a manufacturing company, you are probably aware of the lack of skilled labor in the industry. It might even be one of those things that keeps you up at night, with your mind working overtime trying to solve the skills gap issues for your business.
Unfortunately, there isn't a one-size-fits-all answer to solve the lack of skilled workers. As new jobs are created elsewhere in our economy, the pool of skilled workers is vanishing. But there are options—including apprenticeships.
Apprenticeships played an important role in the industrial revolution, providing skilled craftsmen to meet the growing demands for skills and product. Apprenticeships also played a hand in helping the U.S. meet the demand for a skilled industrial workforce as the economy grew rapidly after the end of World War II.
Somewhere along the way, apprenticeship participation fell off. Many thought computer-aided machining and automation would replace the need for highly skilled workers. Although automation did reduce the need for some skills, as more complex automation is implemented and many baby boomers retire, we are experiencing a skill gap that needs to be addressed. Forecasters believe as many as 2 million skilled jobs will be unfilled by 2025. Apprenticeships could be a big part of the answer to this huge gap within our workforce.
Starting an apprenticeship program doesn’t have to be difficult. The United States Department of Labor (US DOL) Bureau of Apprenticeship provides tools and resources to help you get started. Check out the DOL website on apprenticeship.
In addition to traditional apprenticeship programs, many states have school-to-work programs or youth apprenticeships. These programs allow qualified high school students to work part time in an industry, basically getting a head start on a traditional apprenticeship program. They are also a great way for students to explore a future career and for employers to see how the potential employee fits their company and its culture.
Apprenticeships not only beef up the skilled labor force, but also provide a great opportunity for employers to give back to their local communities by providing good paying jobs and skills.