Apprenticeships, which are training programs that combine on-the-job training with accompanying study, have functioned as pathways to careers since the Middle Ages. These programs are especially popular in a number of European nations as an alternative to higher education for career development. Although apprenticeship programs have long been a part of the landscape in the United States, there is renewed interest in how they might be used to address our rapidly evolving workforce needs.
This renewed interest was recently on display as President Trump signed the Presidential Executive Order Expanding Apprenticeships in America on June 15. Proclaiming, “In today’s rapidly changing economy, it is more important than ever to prepare workers to fill both existing and newly created jobs and prepare workers for the jobs of the future,” the executive order instructs the Department of Labor to promote the development of new and existing apprenticeship programs. Trump echoed these sentiments in his address prior to signing the executive order when he said, “Not only will our apprentices transform their lives, but they will also transform our lives in the truest sense. Today’s apprentices will construct the roads and bridges that will move our citizens, they will bend the metal and steel that shape our cities, and they will pioneer the new technology that drives our commerce.”