As the cost of a four-year college degree continues to soar, apprentice programs are appealing to more and more young people (“Want a White-Collar Career Without College Debt? Become an Apprentice,” The New York Times, Dec. 11). Not only do they lead to well-paying jobs, but they don’t burden enrollees with heavy student debt.
Most apprentice programs are still in skilled trades, but in the past two years more than 700 programs have been created in white-collar fields. Once trained, graduates are quickly hired. Yet opposition remains. Critics claim that they create a two-tier system: those graduating from elite schools who establish connections and those in apprentice programs who lack such ties. But we already have a two-tier system. I question if graduates from third-tier universities can ever hope to compete with graduates from the Ivies.
I say it’s time to give vocational education the respect it deserves. The new apprentice programs are a step in the right direction.
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2 Replies to “Apprentice programs offer bright future”
A possible problem with apprenticeships is the apparent lack of a coordinated or centralized listing of apprenticeship opportunities. The NYT article implies that many/most apprenticeship programs — particularly those outside the skilled construction trades — are relatively small programs operated by individual employers. Unclear how a high school senior would learn about such programs. Probably a few programs affirmatively recruit at local high schools, but I bet that most high school seniors have little/no direct access to info re potential apprenticeship programs, particularly programs not located near their home town.
Labor Lawyer: I continue to believe that college is not for everyone and that many high school students would be far better served by a vocational education coupled with an apprenticeship. The white-collar programs are too new to be properly evaluated, but traditional apprenticeship programs have long proved their worth.