Apprenticeships: Then vs. NowWhen you think of apprenticeships, it’s likely you think of manual labor or a skilled trade. That thought is not wrong, but as essential jobs grow to include the tech industry, apprenticeships have started to move to the tech world. In this article, we will review a condensed history of apprenticeships, talk about the introduction of apprenticeships to the tech industry, and discuss common apprenticeship myths.
A Brief History of ApprenticeshipsApprenticeships have been around since the Middle Ages in Britain and arrived in America in its infancy. Traditional apprenticeships from the Middle Ages until early American beginnings were paid for by the parents of the apprentice. The apprentice worked underneath the master of the trade for years before opening their own business and were not usually paid but received room and board, meals, and clothing. Sounds like the apprenticeships we grew up learning about, right? However, the 1937 National Apprenticeship Act (known as the Fitzgerald Act) established what still today is the Registered Apprenticeship program in the United States. This act made the Department of Labor (DOL) responsible for developing regulations on the health, safety, and welfare of apprentices. By the 1940’s, there were about 6,233 Registered Apprenticeship programs nationwide.
Apprenticeships in the Tech IndustryApprenticeships shifted from occupations such as carpentry and manufacturing to the tech industry gradually, with organizations such as CompTIA, Apprentice Now, and even Philadelphia’s Office of Innovation and Tech launching their own apprenticeship programs. Forbes writes that “the number of apprentices registered with the Department of Labor surpassed 636,000 in 2020, a 64% increase from the level a decade ago.” There are many reasons for the shift. For one, the tech talent shortage is affecting tech organizations everywhere. As of 2019, 84% of employers found it difficult to hire technical talent. The COVID-19 pandemic made it more difficult to find qualified talent for work. In addition to the shortage of talent, there is also a skill gaps in the technology sector. With technology constantly evolving, the training many candidates receive becomes obsolete quickly. Apprenticeships offer the tech sector the ability to secure talent while building a qualified workforce for the tech industry and for their organizations.
Common Apprenticeship MythsApprenticeships come with a fair deal of stigmas. Here are some common apprenticeship myths:
- Apprenticeships are for people who didn’t excel in school – The truth is many tech organizations don’t require employees to have a degree from college. Apprenticeships are a way for candidates to learn the skills they need for a career in the tech industry while also getting paid. Many of these apprenticeships even cover pre-apprenticeship training courses – offering education to apprentices on a chosen career path.
- Internships and apprenticeships are the same – While internships and apprenticeships may have many of the same characteristics, they are not the same. The main difference between an internship and an apprenticeship is that apprenticeships are paid, while internships are often unpaid and do not necessarily lead to full-time employment. Additionally, apprenticeships may lead to earning an industry-recognized credential, while internships usually do not.
- Apprenticeships only exist in trades such as construction – When people think of apprenticeships, it is common for them to think of trades such as carpentry manufacturing. However, apprenticeships exist in industries like technology, healthcare, and energy.
- Apprenticeships are too expensive on the employer’s end – Apprenticeship programs can be expensive if you don’t take the correct approach as an employer. Using an apprenticeship service to customize your own program is a good way to save money, rather than putting money into trying to start your own apprenticeship program.
- Apprentices won’t earn that much money – While it is true that many apprentices are hired at a lower wage than a full-time employee, there is usually some sort of wage-progression plan so the apprentice will eventually make the same wage as any other worker in the organization.