Most companies don’t do long training programs like apprenticeships. In fact, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, less than 5% of high school graduates go into apprenticeships. Given that few U.S. industries offer them and most companies complain of a skills gap in the workforce, enterprising businesses could use these programs to jump ahead of the curve and gain a competitive advantage.
Competitive Advantages of Apprenticeships
Companies who offer apprenticeships report several advantages. For example, apprentices contribute while they’re learning. They can help you handle easier tasks while training for harder ones. Also, these folks can help you innovate. Someone who hasn’t been indoctrinated in the industry will often ask questions and challenge widely held assumptions that could lead to new ideas.
Every company feels the pressure of innovation today. The markets and business needs change constantly, so rather than paying a high salary for employees with past experience, why not pay a lower salary and end up with an employee trained specifically for your business in today’s market?
One retail pharmaceutical and health care company implemented an apprenticeship program for pharmacists in 2005. The case study is included in a report by Deloitte and the Aspen Institute:
“A senior business leader who focuses on workforce development strategies for the organization has recognized that apprenticeship programs are a powerful tool, benefiting both the apprentice and the organization. Participants of the apprenticeship program receive hands-on experience, industry-recognized credentials, and, in some instances, college credit, while the organization itself develops a pipeline of talented and skilled employees needed to fill current and future roles.”
Bottom-line Advantages of Apprenticeships
Apprentices work within your budget. You can hire at a lower salary and let the trainee earn more as he or she offers more value to the company. Also, without the pressure of a large salary, you can hire for attitude and make sure an employee is a cultural fit before you invest a lot of cash.
While it might seem that training someone for a couple of years would be costly, most apprenticeships pay off on the bottom line. According to a 2009 report of Canadian apprenticeships across different industries, the companies saw an average Benefit to Cost Ratio of 1.47 over 4 years. The longer apprentices stayed with a company, the more they contributed to the bottom line.
Employee Loyalty with Apprenticeships
Businesses who don’t currently offer apprenticeships may be concerned that they’ll train someone for several months and lose them to competitors later. However, most companies that do offer programs report that poaching hasn’t been a problem. In fact, “employers in other countries have found that apprenticeship actually increases worker loyalty.”
We already know that training and development improve productivity and reduce turnover. When you have employees who are steadily growing in their jobs, most don’t look around for another one.
Getting Started with Apprenticeships
And if you’re thinking of creating a program, you can take advantage of government training initiatives to get started. For example, Upskill America (upskillamerica.org) is a coalition of business, education, training and human resources organizations designed to identify areas where educators and business can work together to help students master the skills businesses need. And the U.S. Department of Labor offers several resources, including a guide for creating apprenticeships and building partnerships in the community. You can even register your apprenticeship to get tax credits, which offset your setup costs.
Although apprenticeships in the U.S. are still not common, businesses are starting to recognize their value. In fact, there are 35,000 more Americans in apprenticeships today than in 2013.
No one program will solve all the training and hiring problems out there, but apprenticeships are a smart way to get bright young employees – the superstars of tomorrow – on your team today. Perhaps we should be doing more of them.
Learn how Pract.us can help you build an apprenticeship in your business.