Apprenticeships Offer Needed Skills For Young Workers

Editor’s Note: The Millennial Voices series is written by and for Millennials to foster nonpartisan discussion. Eric Essagof is a junior at The George Washington University. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

When Washington talks about young people, the focus is almost always on college students. Whether the debate is over student loan debt or spikes in tuition, policymakers have routinely ignored a large number of Millennials: those who will not go to college.

Contrary to popular belief, there are certainly jobs available for young people without a college degree. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 4.6 million new jobs in the coming decade will require only a high school diploma or equivalent, and 4.2 million new jobs will require less than a high school diploma.

In addition, Brookings predicts that 45 percent of all job openings in the coming decade will be "middle skill:" They require "some education and training beyond high school, but less than a bachelor's degree." Examples of these middle skill trades include manufacturing, police and firefighters, electricians, plumbers, detectives, engineering technicians, and healthcare support personnel, among others. 

These jobs are critical to America's economic success, yet there are not nearly enough young people pursuing these trades right after high school. One way to incentivize these middle skill jobs are through apprenticeship programs.

An apprenticeship is an entry-level job in a skilled-labor field that allows the apprentice to gain experience in their future job while earning a wage. By not forcing young people to take time off of work and go to school for a degree, apprenticeships can simultaneously provide trade-specific education and a livable wage.

A bill has been introduced in the Senate to provide a tax credit for any employer offering an apprenticeship program, especially those targeting young people. Others, like the Brookings Institution, have offered similar plans to expand the number of apprenticeships available to young people. This will be an issue to keep an eye on as contenders for the White House draft their economic plans.

Eric Essagof is a MAP Policy Intern and a junior at The George Washington University pursuing a BA in Political Science. He is originally from Westport, CT, which is also the home of Paul Newman, Martha Stewart, and Josh Lyman. He has previously worked at LawStreetMedia.com, The Sheridan Group, and a Congressional office.


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