Preparing to Go Into Apprenticeships? Beware the Marketing.
In the next two years, 3.5 million high school graduates will attend universities in the U.S. that average near $70,000 per year in tuition. Despite the rising costs, recent college graduates are turning away from college, with the National Center for Education Statistics finding that post-graduation unemployment is between 5.5% and 6%.
This leaves employers scrambling to fill jobs. In 2016, 50% of employers reported that their talent shortages were bigger than it was five years ago. And, 16% of employers reported they would have to lay off more people if not for the fact that there were not enough available employees to fill their positions. Given that this trend is likely to continue in the future, it’s not surprising to learn that 26% of employers plan to hire people in the low-skilled, unskilled industries, while just 16% plan to hire people in the high-paying trade jobs that correlate with college degree attainment.
Not surprisingly, high schools like Denver School of Science and Technology and Colorado State University are competing with big business to land the best and brightest high school graduates. But what do these companies offer in exchange for the privilege of hiring more high school graduates? The answer is nothing.
A Calculated Risk to Risk Free Rates
Without open job opportunities for teens, businesses cannot take out the risk of cultivating a workforce with the required skills and knowledge, but only the opening of apprenticeships can remedy this. Instead of more open job opportunities, employers are mostly relying on waiting for the U.S. Congress to pass a Trade Adjustment Assistance program that gives unemployed jobless high school graduates Temporary Assistance to Needy Families to repay student loans. Although this act was recently approved, it will be up to the administration to actually enforce the law and administer it to recipients.
These Trade Adjustment Assistance programs, of course, have no real influence on the actual cost of college. In addition, they cannot compare the typical return on investment of tuition and student loan interest in comparison to the financial rewards to be achieved through the advancement of individual talent. The misconception of what such accrual can accomplish is also severely hindered by the current lack of high-paying trade opportunities.
When considering the real cost of a college education, there is no way anyone could doubt it’s a significant investment. For people from middle-class families who choose a bachelor’s degree, the investment is actually more than $170,000. Even with significant scholarships, grants, and government aid, the cost is still no less than $150,000 and probably more.
Related to this fact is the simple fact that there are only a small handful of high-paying trade jobs out there. As the unemployment rate in the labor market has dropped, employers are looking for flexible, hard-working, and critical-thinking workers who are not afraid to take risks.
Learning to Reluctantly Dive
High school students, on the other hand, have no option but to contemplate whether they are at least somewhat prepared for the high level of work experience that might come with the job market once they are no longer in high school.
To this end, high school students do have a choice in the matter. They can follow the peer leaders and follow the path they are told will get them the future that they seek.
Alternatively, they can step out of the highly defined career structures and attend a school that offers more immersive learning environments that don’t focus on completing standardized tests. Some even practice agricultural agriculture while they attend school as an apprenticeship in exchange for live livestock and other livestock-related gifts.
All of these trade apprenticeships give young people an opportunity to actually practice basic trades. And by choosing to follow this path, they can open up many doors for their young selves.
In our current economic environment, more teenagers will have to make a choice between chasing a dream job and taking out the risk of actually achieving a goal of economic independence and long-term success, especially if they want the lower entry wages offered by apprenticeships to allow them to start their own businesses. If they are not open to this decision, then it’s imperative that they put themselves at the top of their interviews by focusing on potential future obstacles to avoid when deciding which path to take.