The second of a series of articles about each state’s apprenticeship system, this article is on
At the end of October 2009
The federal Office of Apprenticeship is the registration agency and has two full time technical staff. They work closely with the Alaska Department of Labor & Workforce Development, who in 2007 established a State Office of Apprenticeship. In 2008 we trained 25 Apprenticeship Specialists within the statewide
Based on a 1996 – 2007 study, the top ten occupations in 2007 were electrician, construction craft laborer, plumber, pipe fitter, carpenter, operating engineer, power lineman, sheet metal workers, telecommunications installers, and building maintenance repairer. Note that 55 percent of the programs registered in FY2007 were in occupations outside of the construction industry.
Associate of Applied Science Degree in Apprenticeship Technologies: Apprentice graduates historically transition to positions of greater responsibility within their companies. Representatives are working with the
Environmental Analyst: USDOL Apprenticeship Reps are working with nine environmental engineering companies and the
School to Apprenticeship Initiative with the Mat-Su Career and
John P. Hakala
Phone: (907) 271-5035 Fax: (907) 271-5024
In most countries, giving up full-time schooling at age 15 would seem like a bad plan. But for Christian Dietrich, who lives in the German village of Ketsch, outside Heidelberg, the move made sense. Three years ago, Dietrich became an apprentice at Helmut Herbert, a large plumbing contractor in nearby Bensheim, alternating two weeks of on-the-job training with one week of classes at a vocational school. Now 18, Dietrich will qualify next year in what are traditionally separate trades: heating, plumbing, and air-conditioning. He's proud of his accomplishment. "You used to have to call three technicians. Now you only need one," says Dietrich, already making a sales pitch for his company.
Germany's apprenticeship program is one answer to a growing problem. Even as the world financial system stabilizes, unemployment among young people is soaring. In Spain, some 39% of under-25-year-olds are jobless, up from 26% a year ago. Ten other European Union countries including France, Belgium, and Hungary have youth unemployment rates above 20%. In the U.S., the unemployment rate for 16- to 24-year-olds has climbed to over 18%, up from 13% a year ago.
The danger is that a generation of young people may be economically scarred for years. Studies suggest that an extended period of youthful joblessness can significantly depress lifetime income as people get stuck in low-end jobs, or come to be seen by employers as damaged goods. "The longer they are out of work, the harder it becomes [to get work]," says Neil Carberry, head of employment policy for the Confederation of British Industry, a trade association.
In Germany, by contrast, under-25 joblessness was 8.2% in September, just a tick above the overall German rate of 8%. Austria, Denmark, and Switzerland also have well-established apprenticeship programs and below-average youth unemployment. Rather than being left to flounder after high school, young workers are plugged right into the labor market.
Companies are happy with the system, too. Apprenticeships give employers several years to train workers in company-specific skills and assess the abilities of an Azubi—short for Auszubildener ("trainee"). Says G?nther Hohlweg, who oversees the 10,000 young people learning trades at Munich-based electronics and engineering giant Siemens: "When they're done, they can start on a higher level."
The system is even good for the national budget, because companies bear much of the cost of secondary-school education. German authorities accredit some 350 kinds of apprenticeship, ranging from baker to hair stylist and bank clerk to video editor. Even university students may be apprentices, splitting their time between studying and practical experience in fields such as biotech or aerospace.
Lately, though, the system has come under stress through factors related to both the current downturn and long-term changes in the global labor market. The number of apprenticeships slumped more than 10% between 2000 and 2005, recovering only after the government threatened to compel companies to take more trainees. German officials expect the number to dip again this year because of the financial crisis. Although apprentices in lower-skilled trades can serve as cheap labor, they are often an expense to their employers in the short term. Siemens (SI) spends about $220 million a year training Azubis, some of whom earn as much as $1,500 a month. The company estimates that the productive work done by the trainees equals only about one-third their cost. Siemens, which offers almost all its apprentices full-time jobs, recoups the investment only later.
The biggest problem is a shortage of work for teens who complete only basic schooling, which may end after the ninth grade. Germany's highly automated factories offer far fewer low-skilled jobs than they used to. As a result, more than half the graduates of basic schooling wind up in government-supported training programs. About a quarter of those don't land a private-sector apprenticeship and run a high risk of long-term unemployment. "Because of the changes in the labor market, the system is not functioning as smoothly as it used to," says Tilly Lex, a sociologist at the German Youth Institute who studies job training.
At the same time, some industries take on too many apprentices. Hair salons, for example, can profit from the cheap labor that trainees provide. So they tend to train more hairdressers than the market can absorb. Once young people have invested years learning a trade, it's tough to start over. Germany is much less successful retraining older workers than training young ones.
The big question is whether the apprenticeship program is flexible enough to adjust to a changing global economy. Says Markus Kiss, an education specialist at the German Chamber of Commerce & Industry: "The system has a future, but it has to be adjusted."
Ewing is BusinessWeek's European regional editor.
At this time they have been awarded $750,000 of ARRA funds “set aside” for Pre-Apprenticeship. A Request for Proposals was recently issued to local WIA Boards;
Over $15 million of ARRA funds were distributed to the Commonwealth’s 10 local workforce investment boards to provide workforce and training services to the youth identified as most in need of assistance. Approximately 85 percent of these funds were to be used to conduct the Kentucky Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) providing training opportunities to approximately 6,000 at-risk youth and young adults across the state.
How are ARRA funds being leveraged in your state to advance Registered Apprenticeship?
A question was sent to all OA staff asking those of us who have had experience with on line related instruction, to please share how integrity is maintained? The email went on to ask how to ensure that the actual apprentice is the individual taking and passing the course. Are there any checks and balances as to how tests are conducted?
I decided to forward that question on to Penn Foster, an expert in the field of On Line Training, or more specifically to Rick Bruno an expert in the field who works for Penn Foster and has helped us here in Iowa immensely in developing on line training for our sponsors. This is what Rick had to say....
"This subject is often a concern of our clients - especially those new to distance learning. We take an approach of leaving the question of integrity in the hands of the client. Believe it or not, most students are fundamentally honest in their approach to learning. If a client has even the most remote concern that the apprentice is not the one taking the tests or that apprentices are sharing information, we can create manual level tests. In other words, we can test any apprentice, at any time, upon request. For example, a test can be a random test of "x" number of questions, for "x" number of courses that the apprentice(s) has already tested on. These tests can be customized, scrambled and given with a client proctor present. I generally tell my clients to advise their apprentices that this option is available to be utilized at any given time. Just the "threat" of such an exam will keep them honest. Some clients choose to do so, even before they suspect any cheating. Again, we have very, very few instances where this is really an issue. If it ever becomes an issue, it is most often a case of multiple apprentices and the client suspects information sharing. I think the required OJL tasks will uncover such dishonesty anyway, but there are times our clients feel they need this possibility addressed. Having the ability to customize and scramble tests from a 60,000 question test bank is a very powerful deterrent! "
Independent Training Consultant
Penn Foster Inc./Workforce Development Div.
Like all registered apprenticeship programs we have to trust the Sponsor and apprentice will maintain the highest level of integrity. We always have CR's and OA's to verify.