Apprenticeships are making a come back – and not just in trade union jobs –but only a third of today’s apprentices are community college students. Apprenticeship has spread from construction trades to “skilled occupations such as computer operator, machinist, dental laboratory technician, tool and dye maker, electronic technician” and more, reports Community College Times.
In Switzerland, Austria and Germany, apprenticeships provide training for more than half of young people. There and elsewhere, apprenticeships have been grown to include information technology, finance, advanced manufacturing, and maritime occupations. Germany has the oldest and best-known apprenticeship system. It offers programs leading to recognized qualifications in about 350 different occupations.
In the U.S., “apprenticeship programs offer an array of advantages over pure postsecondary education programs,” concludes a Center for American Progress report by economist Robert I. Lerman.
“Since apprenticeship openings depend on employer demand, mismatches between skills taught and supplied and skills demanded in the work place are unusual. Apprenticeships provide workers with a full salary so that participants can earn while they acquire valued skills. Apprentices learn in the context of real work settings and attain not only occupational skills but other work-related skills, including communication, problem solving, allocating resources, and dealing with supervisors and a diverse set of coworkers.”
Community colleges can provide the academic instruction apprentices need, while employers provide the occupational training and workplace skills, Lerman writes.
Some community colleges are “slow to develop new courses that are required as new programs or new technologies in existing programs arise,” reports Community College Times. But there are a growing number of successful apprenticeship programs.
In Washington State, more than 200 students are learning the ironworking trade through apprenticeships run by the Aerospace Joint Apprenticeship Committee, a state-funded partnership among community colleges, industry and the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers. The programs supply workers for Boeing Corp., the state’s largest employer.
South Carolina locates its major apprenticeship initiative, Apprenticeship Carolina, at its 16 technical colleges. The state-funded system is growing fast; since July 2007, the number of registered apprenticeship programs in South Carolina has grown from 90 to 230. All 16 of the state’s technical colleges are participating in apprenticeship programs.
The Wisconsin Youth Apprenticeship program was started in the 1990s and has matured into the nation’s largest apprenticeship opportunity for high school students. Under the two-year program, high school juniors and seniors complete up to 900 hours of work-based learning and related courses. Many also earn college credits, and 70 percent go on to higher education.
Apprenticeship could be used to prepare young people for the growing number of “middle-skill jobs” that require some postsecondary training but not a bachelor’s degree.
Once upon a time, high achievers would take classes at a nearby college while finishing high school. Now “dual enrollment” is being pushed for all students — and sometimes especially for low achievers. That makes no sense, writes Community College Dean.
If some high school sophomore has already blasted through BC Calculus and is itching for more, I’m happy to offer a seat in our upper-level calculus sequence. The math department loves those students, and I don’t see much social purpose served in having them just circle the airport for the last year or two of high school.
But average students aren’t prepared for college work after sophomore year. Many high school graduates aren’t prepared.
Given that, it seems to me that beefing up the academic content of the last two years of high school is the obvious fix. When the students run out of AP classes their junior year, then talk to me about mass-scale dual enrollment. Until then, I don’t see it.
The third version of dual enrollment, pushed by the Gates Foundation, is supposed to prevent dropouts by motivating weak students. If they can’t handle high school work, the dean doesn’t think they can handle college classes. And if they’re placed in college remedial classes, where they belong, they won’t develop “a new peer group with new expectations.”
Community colleges are colleges. I understand the temptation to try to be everything to everyone, but at the end of the day, they serve the community best by being colleges. If the high schools need fixing, then the high schools need fixing.
In some cases, dual-enrollment students take classes at their high school taught by a college instructor or by a high school teacher following the college syllabus. Are these really college-level classes? I have my doubts.
Community College Times looks at the early college model in Florida, which is geared to high achievers.
“Early College has really helped me to prepare for what colleges would expect me to do,” said Anish Khanorkar, a high school sophomore enrolled in the Early College Program at Seminole State College of Florida (SSCF). A future surgeon, the 15-year-old has worked on a year-long research project in biology at the community college.
New legislation in Washington state will expand opportunities for high school students to earn college credits, reports P-20 Blog.
Certificate completion rates are significantly higher at technical colleges, which focuses on career training, than at community college, which also prepares students for academic degrees, according to a new report by the Community College Research Center. The study by Judith Scott-Clayton and Madeline Joy Weiss compared the completion rates of career-technical students in Washington state.
Technical and comprehensive colleges serve different populations, the study found. “A true apples-to-apples comparison requires limiting the analysis to a relatively small fraction (less than 10%) of students enrolled at either institution.”
. . . for this limited subset of career-technical students, technical schools have significantly higher certificate completion rates after three years, with no apparent deficit in associate degree completion.
However, institution type alone explains a small fraction of the overall variation in student outcomes across institutions.