More and more companies are turning to apprenticeships as a solution to their hiring woes. The number of apprentices at U.S. companies has doubled over the past ten years according to the Department of Labor, and companies increasingly see them as a solution in an environment with two job openings available for every person looking for work.
“Companies are tapping into a talent market place that they had never reached before,” says Teneika Askew, a data scientist who has a large following on social media, for her posts with advice and job openings to an audience heavily composed of women and people of color looking to move into tech careers. Askew says that her posts about apprenticeships generate an especially high level of engagement, and noted that offering apprenticeships allows companies “to bring on talent from varying perspectives and backgrounds, potentially increasing the diversity of the organizations and the products.”
If you’re wondering what’s the difference between an apprenticeship and an internship, the Department of Labor offers a straightforward definition: “Apprenticeships combine paid on-the-job training with classroom instruction to prepare workers for highly-skilled careers.” As a hiring tactic, apprenticeships seem to be a smart move. According to the Department of Labor, 93% of apprentices stay in their jobs upon completion of their apprenticeships. Compare that with the retention rate for a company’s interns, at only around 67% one year later.
Apprenticeships offer a way to hire team members who show an ability to learn the specific skills you’re seeking even if they’re not there yet. While they’re most common in skilled trades–more than half of all apprentices last year were electricians, carpenters, or plumbers–apprenticeships are growing in a range of other jobs, from nursing to restaurant management and pharmacy, and even in tech positions such as software engineering. Apprenticeships are not only for career-opening positions for those just out of high school or college; they’re also offered as a mid-career option for those with a track record of work, but who need certain training to be a fully-productive member of your team.
The opportunity to offer apprenticeships is only going to grow: The Biden administration has taken multiple actions to fund the growth of apprenticeships, and their popularity is evident in job listings.
If you’re trying to figure out if an apprenticeship is right for developing your team, you can search for apprenticeships at companies you compete with or whom you try to emulate, and see what they offer. Amazon has technical apprenticeships in cloud computing; Citibank has apprenticeships across a range of roles. Your industry might already have a Recognized Apprenticeship Program, that would give you a framework in which to operate. There’s also a DoL page for employers about launching apprenticeship programs.