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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

$500 billion for college, $8 billion for job training

Christian Ramsumair, a fourth-year apprentice, works as a tool-and-die technician at Blum, Inc. in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Donald Trump’s June 2017 executive order calling for the expansion of apprenticeships, is “good PR,” Anthony Carnevale tells The Atlantic‘s Lolade Fadulu. The U.S. does job training badly, says Carnevale, director of the Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce.

Apprenticeship is “the gold standard for job training,” says Carnevale.

The [first] problem with apprenticeships in the U.S. is we can’t do much job training before the end of high school because if we do, we will end up putting African Americans, Latinos, working class, and poor kids into those programs and the rich white kids will go to college. Politically, we’re unable to do job training in the K-12 system, so it has to start after high school. . . . The no. 2 problem is that an apprenticeship in manufacturing and any technical field costs anywhere from $60,000 to $260,000 [per apprentice]. The employer normally pays for that. States and the federal government are about to give employers [even greater] tax breaks to have them do apprenticeships, but they aren’t going to give them $260,000 dollars.

Apprenticeships work for technical jobs, Carnevale said. Technical workers can earn high salaries, even with a two-year degree, but they face the risk of automation.

Now, all U.S. students get an academic education through high school, and there really is no vocational prep in high school anymore. The American K-12 system does not make people job-ready, it makes people college-ready. We end up with no training in high school but have turned to higher education to do more workforce development. The training budget in the U.S. government is $8 billion, and the government and families spend over $500 billion dollars on college education. The model in America is “high school to Harvard.”

Skilled-services industries, such as information technology, financial services and health services, pay good wages to workers without requiring a bachelor’s degree, writes Carnevale and Chauncy Lennon on Bloomberg View. “The median salary is $55,000 with an opportunity to move up the career ladder.”

North Carolina is a leader in employer-based apprenticeships, reports  Kari Travis in the Carolina Journal. The state is home to 536 apprenticeship programs, with 4,781 apprentices.

In 1995, Blum, Inc. started an apprenticeship program, modeled after its Austrian program, to train machinists, CNC operators, tool-and-die makers, injection molding specialists and electronics technicians.

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