Apprenticeships gained their popularity in America during the Depression when labor shortages led to more standards and formalized training for a number of jobs in several industries. Despite their importance when first introduced, apprenticeships have not taken hold in the United States quite as much as they have in other countries. Additionally, only certain industries tend to offer apprenticeships, despite the vast advantages they’ve brought to the various job fields and the employees. More and more people are seeing the benefits of apprenticeships and other on-the-job training programs, and there has recently been a push in the US to increase apprenticeships to encourage more job training to happen on the actual job rather than in classrooms alone. While the increase has not been as substantial as many hoped, in 2016, there were about 500,000 apprenticeships listed with the Department of Labor, which is a significant jump from the previous year.
With college graduates sometimes struggling to find work and often acquiring their degree at the cost of enormous student loan debt, many are looking for alternative ways to be trained for a job. As both the federal government and individual states push to maximize apprenticeship opportunities, students are able to explore career paths and jobs that wouldn’t have been as accessible to them in the past. They are also getting incredibly opportunities to learn job-related skills at an earlier age, get college courses paid for, earn an income, and secure a future job for themselves after completion of the apprenticeship.
What Is an Apprenticeship?
Many think of apprenticeships as something of the past or as something that is confined to construction trades and labor unions. But at their heart, apprenticeships are employment that includes on-the-job training and related coursework. Apprentices are paid from day one, and their pay typically increases as they gain and master new skills. The average starting pay for an apprentice is $16.50 per hour, and employees who complete apprenticeships earn an average of $300,000 more than their non-apprentice counterparts. Those in apprenticeship programs have a 91% retention rate, meaning that they not only do the majority of apprentices complete their programs, but more often than not, apprentices are hired on full-time after completion of the program as well. However, even if they aren’t hired as a full-time employee at the company where they did their apprenticeship, they can take their relevant training and experience to another company and should have a pretty easy time landing a job.
While apprenticeships tend to make perfect sense for college students or adults looking to get into a new career field, student apprenticeships are also available for high school students to get a great start in the workforce. High school apprenticeships offer teens invaluable opportunities to get on-the-job training that supplements what they’re learning in the classroom, giving them optimal preparation to enter a job with experience, training, and knowledge of the field and what is expected from them as an employee. Here are the top reasons why high school apprenticeships can be a great option for students.
#1. Learn New Skills
A student apprenticeship is a surefire way to acquire new skills that will help you in both the present and the future. Most employers are looking for individuals with soft skills, such as good communication, the ability to work as a team player, adaptability, problem-solving and critical thinking skills, conflict resolution, and more. If you have those skills, you can be trained for just about any job out there. So when you begin a high school apprenticeship, you get the technical skills needed to do a particular job, many of which can only be learned by doing the actual job rather than in a classroom. If you’re a student who is set on a particular career path or if you’re not sure what you want to do after high school, an apprenticeship can help you learn new skills that can be applied to various careers and industries, and it can help you prepare yourself for a future job doing something you love.
#2. Explore a Career
If you’re not certain what you want to do when you graduate, a student apprenticeship is an excellent way to explore a career. Maybe it’s a career you’ve always had an interest in or maybe it’s something your family keeps saying you’ll be good at. No matter the reason for selecting the type of apprenticeship, getting hands-on experience at a young age can help you make the wisest decision about your future. Many high school students graduate and go on to college where they major in a field where they have little to no experience. They may then find that upon entering the workforce, the job is not what they imagined and they struggle to see themselves doing that job for a number of years. For those in high school apprenticeships, they learn early how they feel about a job and they are not locked into any career, job, or even industry after completing the student apprenticeship.
#3. Strengthen Professionalism
Students often struggle with feeling like adults when they are treated like children at home and school. While there is, of course, an important balance since they are not yet officially adults, having a high school apprenticeship can help students explore their adult sides and strengthen their relationships and interactions with adults. Professionalism and appropriate respect on the job are incredibly important, and younger employees often struggle in that area. Getting a student apprenticeship will help teens strengthen their professionalism and gain confidence in their interactions with adults, making them more valuable to a company moving forward and making them more respected and appreciated as an employee.
#4. Get a Foot in the Door
Landing the perfect job nowadays sometimes come down to who you know and being in the right place at the right time. Even if you decide to choose a different career path or work for a different company after completing a high school apprenticeship, knowing people and having a strong professional network can be a game changer. Having connections in a professional environment can help with references and even landing a job in the future.
#5. Build a Resume
No matter what you anticipate your future looking like, having a strong resume is incredibly important. While most high school students can only include grades, extracurricular activities, and maybe a part-time job on their resumes, students who have a legitimate and professional apprenticeship on their resume will be looked at more seriously by potential employers and even college admissions boards.
#6. Improve School Performance
While this isn’t guaranteed to happen, students who take on high school apprenticeships are more likely to pour themselves into their schoolwork and their courses, as well as excel at them. When students feel like there is a legitimate purpose behind what they’re doing in their classes and when they know that what they’re learning is applicable in the real world, they’re more likely to invest more time and energy into homework and classwork. They are more likely to see the value in the lessons they learn at school and are often more passionate about excelling at and succeeding in school.
To find a high school apprenticeship in a field you’re interested in, you can talk to a counselor at San Diego Virtual School or you can search online for student apprenticeships in your area. The Department of Labor is a great resource for finding apprenticeships, and many trade schools and colleges offer them as well. Begin your path to success now by embarking on a student apprenticeship and prepare yourself for the amazing future you’re sure to have.