Monday, April 27, 2015

The Apprentice



            Education has maintained the same model for years. Over a hundred and fifty of them. Some things in education need to be updated, but in other instances, maybe it’s time to revisit the past, take a successful model, and update it for today’s learner. That model? Apprenticeship.
            A recent article by Ron Bethke of eCampus News explores the growing movement toward apprenticeship in higher education, noting in his article the increase of federal funding for this program.
            In my opinion this is good. But it could be better. How? By moving some of the funds from higher ed to high school and allowing students the opportunity to gain valuable hands-on experience in a career or trade they are considering.
            If the clarion call is out that students need to finish college in four years, what better way to prepare them for post-high school life than expose them to their potential career? By giving them this opportunity, students could find out if their intended career is a fit for them.
            Critics will respond that high school kids are too young to make a choice with such long-lasting implications, stating that many of them will change careers and may not even stay in their apprenticed field. So what? How many people are in the career field they started in? Many, but not all.
            According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, most people change jobs every 4.4 years, but for the Millennial generation, that span is cut in half. This generation loves change and trying new things. Including jobs and often time new careers. Since they are going to change anyway, why not expose young people to as many career choices as possible? This could potentially reduce the amount of job hopping done, leading to happier employees and employers both. This would be a win-win situation.
            Any time we can offer students hands-on or real-world opportunities, we increase student engagement. When engagement goes up, so does learning. When learning increases, so do test scores. And isn’t that what everyone is after anyway? Better test scores? So bring on the apprentice programs but don’t stop at higher education. Filter them into the secondary level and see what kind of changes we could bring to a successful old school model.

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