3 Reasons to Skill Up this National Apprenticeship Week

President Obama has used the launch of the first National Apprenticeship week to shine the spotlight on the value and opportunity that exists with the expansion of modern Apprenticeship.

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The week, he proclaimed, recognizes the ways "Apprenticeships foster innovation and prosperity". Without encouragement and support for Apprenticeships, the President said the American worker risks falling behind. He said Apprenticeships help people upgrade their skills, to keep pace with the demands of the modern workforce.

For decades, countries like Switzerland and Germany have reaped the rewards of Apprenticeship and there is no question of its impact on keeping unemployment rates low and economies humming in those countries.

Here is three reasons why Apprenticeship Work.

Reason #1: Apprenticeship makes good dollars, and cents.

Let's start with what drives most businesses: the bottom line. Apprentices give employers a return on their investment. A recent study shows that for every $1 invested in apprenticeship, employers get back $1.47 in benefits. It's also good news for the broader economy. Each $1 that government invest in apprenticeships, there is a flow on through $27 in economic growth.

And it's not just industry and economy who see a good business case. With the rising cost of traditional education pathways, Apprenticeships offer a viable alternate. Since apprentices do not carry tuition debt, it's a start toward chipping away at the more than $1.2 trillion owed to the United States government in student loan debt. Rather than borrowing money, apprentices earn while they learn, so that instead of inflating the debt bubble, they are putting that income to work and contributing in a number of ways to a buoyant economy.

Reason #2: Apprentices are trained with the exact skills your company needs.

The middle skills gap is leaving many jobs unfilled due to lack of a technically trained workforce. Many employers report that in addition to having trouble finding technically skilled candidates, they can't find candidates with the soft skills they need - like the ability to problem-solve, communicate effectively with clients, or work well in. Hiring apprentices solves this problem. Apprentices are specifically trained in the very skills their employers need, both the soft and the more technical varieties. Apprentices have been mentored, challenged, taught, performed and paid in a real workplace, over the course of several years. As a result, they are completely job-ready and posses not just the practical skills but the work ethic, communication abilities, and the experience in problem-solving that hiring managers are finding lacking in so many candidates coming straight from 4 year college.

Reason #3: Types of Apprenticeships are Expanding

Apprenticeships work in a wide variety of professions - and not just the ones you'd expect. Although apprenticeships may be traditionally associated with skilled trades like construction, they work just as well in other industries.

In fact, in the U.K., where apprenticeships have boomed in recent years, the majority of new apprenticeships are in fields such as business administration, retail, management, and hospitality. There is also evidence that the apprenticeship model translates well to IT, health care, the arts, and even the hard sciences. More and more, smart employers are realizing they can reap the benefits of apprenticeship in just about any profession or field of study.

Despite all its proven benefits the Apprenticeship hasn't been as fully embraced everywhere, and that needs to change. As echoed by President Obama, on-the-job training provided through an Apprenticeship is an easy way to help 'skill up' the next generation that is so vital to our social and economic future. "Our country thrives when all our citizens play a role in driving it forward," Obama said, "Let us support and encourage apprenticeship programs that will help rebuild our middle class...educating more of our people, retraining our workforce, and renewing our Nation's promise to put the American dream within the reach of the determined."