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Remedy the Skills Gap with Apprenticeships

October 24, 2017

Businesses have found that today’s job market requires candidates who not only know things, but can do things. Hiring apprentices can help your business tackle this skills gap.

The shortage of skilled workers remains a top issue faced by employers all around, namely manufacturers. How are businesses surviving this setback? Employing apprentices is one way.

The facts

The KLR Manufacturing Industry Outlook Report cites the lack of qualified workers as the 2nd largest barrier to business growth in 2017 and beyond.

In June, there were 6.16 million jobs open in the U.S., a record for the job openings and labor turnover data series — or JOLTS report — which dates back to 2001. As of July, it took 31 days for companies to fill a vacant opening, up from 23 days in 2006.

In July, the National Federation of Independent Business’s small business optimism report showed that, “85% of those hiring or trying to hire [reported] few or no qualified applicants for their open positions.”
Thus there still exists a clear divide between employers finding qualified workers and workers finding their skills truly valued.

What’s an apprenticeship?

Offering apprenticeships is something a lot of companies are participating in to tackle this ever present skills gap. Many manufacturers have started their own manufacturing training programs that allow students to work part-time at their companies and attend community or technical college on their days off.

The benefits

Apprenticeships allow students:

  • To earn money while still attending school.
  • To potentially graduate with a full-time job
  • To gain firsthand experience in their field. By the time these apprentices graduate, they have become industrial technicians, greatly increasing (many times doubling or tripling) their hourly earning rates.
  • To build up a solid resume, technical repertoire and soft skills training.

Are apprentices only hired in manufacturing jobs?

Many assume that there are solely apprenticeships available in the manufacturing industry however, this is quickly changing. Employers like Unilever and IBM are beginning to invest in apprenticeships to develop the talent and skills they require to reach that next step in business success.

Wait, so what’s the difference between an intern and an apprentice?

Both internships and apprenticeships serve to educate the potential employees, but there are some key differences between the two positions:

  • Apprenticeships are always paid positions. This is not always the case with internships.
  • Apprenticeships are not as common as internships.
  • Apprenticeships are more often geared towards highly skilled technical positions in areas like engineering or construction.
  • Apprenticeships are specified for a particular trade.
  • Apprenticeships are typically multi-year positions whereas internships are shorter and typically last a semester or summer.

Cultivating a skilled workforce

Growing jobs in the US is not nearly as important as cultivating a skilled workforce. Around 3.5 million manufacturing jobs will need to be filled over the next decade and around two million are expected to go unfilled due to the serious deficit in skilled workers. With the growing interest in hiring apprentices, this problem may be alleviated. Only time will tell!

As always, KLR Executive Search Group, LLC is available to answer your questions. Give us a call today.

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