Help Wanted: Apprenticeships in the 21st Century

At noontime on Friday, February 15th, we headed over to the City Club on Cleveland for a program titled “Help Wanted: Apprenticeships in the 21st Century,” with a keynote speech by Dr. Pamela Howze, Ed.D, Program Director of Work Based Learning at the National Fund for Workforce Solutions.

In the course of her speech, Dr. Howze offered very compelling statistics that demonstrated (as we have written before in this blog) that a career in such fields as manufacturing, health care, IT, or financial services that does not require a four-year degree is economically more viable than the results of many four year degrees that are now being pursued. What’s more, Dr. Howze offered evidence that proved that there is definitely a skills gap and that businesses are very much in need of qualified workers with an emphasis on the term “qualified” and that the key was how to obtain them. Accordingly, she contended that one way to achieve this goal would be for companies to offer apprenticeships to those who have the potential to master the needed skills. To be sure, assistance from governmental sources is needed along with cooperation from school district who must start to make future employment a prominent topic for students no later than in the 8th grade.

After her speech, Ms. Darrielle Snipes, Ideastream reporter/producer, conducted a panel with Ms. Linda Dyczkiewycz, Apprenticeship Program Manager for Manufacturing Works; Mr. Geoff Lipnevicius, Senior Manager, Workforce Development, from the Lincoln Electric Company; Ms. Laurie Pogel, Manager, Hourly Workforce Development for Swagelok, along with Dr. Howze.

All of the panelists spoke of how apprenticeships can prove to be a very lucrative prospect for all concerned. However, they suggested that companies need to demonstrate to their bright prospects that the job that they initially hold will not necessarily be everlasting; possibilities for career advancement and education must also be part of the package.

In terms of the the participation of the learning institutions, it was maintained that it would be a good thing if the educators, themselves, could tour prospective companies and share what they have witnessed as an aid to learning.  For instance, they could demonstrate how a certain mathematical technique could be used when performing a procedure as a machinist; subsequently the pupil’s interest would be heightened because he/she would no longer believe that something was being learned just to learn it.

During the Q and A, we asked the panel if they have had any direct dealings with interns seeking H1-B’s. For the most part, none of them had although they knew of instances where such foreign-born workers enjoying that status had proved to be invaluable. What’s more, it was said that U.S. born workers should not feel threatened because there were plenty of employment opportunities for all concerned.