White House Hosts Summit on Apprenticeships

The summit is just the latest evidence that the skilled-worker shortage is getting much needed—and long overdue—attention.

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Apprentices learn the ropes at Superior Tooling, a mold manufacturer and a founding member of the North Carolina Triangle Apprenticeship Program (NCTAP).

It’s nice to see issues close to manufacturers’ hearts getting play in mainstream media and government circles.

That includes the chief executive. A few weeks ago, the White House hosted it’s first-ever summit on American apprenticeship. The stated goal of the gathering was to “gather the best ideas and catalyze action to dramatically increase apprenticeship in America.”

Although this particular government effort isn't limited to manufacturing, apprenticeship is a particularly hot topic in our industry. That was reflected in the event’s attendees, which, among other manufacturing representatives, included two executives from the National Institute of Metalworking Skills (NIMS): Greg Chambers, chairman of the board, and James Wall, executive director. Incidentally, I found out about the event through an NIMS email newsletter. According to that material, summit topics included a forum on innovation in apprenticeship, followed by discussions on expansion into up-and-coming occupations and industries, promotion of innovation in apprenticeship, and designing for diversity.

According to the White House, 87 percent of apprentices find employment after completing their programs. Moreover, the United States would need more than six times the current amount to catch up with Great Britain—a country with roughly a fifth of our population—and we’d need 16 times more to match apprenticeship levels in Germany.

Although opinions likely vary on the proper role of government in this effort, it’s good to see the issue getting more attention. Meanwhile, one successful model for apprenticeship is already spreading in North Carolina, and it could be replicated elsewhere. Read this May issue article on one of those programs to learn more.

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