Internships and Apprenticeships

Mentor Our Kids advocates increasing the quantity and quality of internships by all companies in order to give students more information about which careers make sense for them by applying what they’ve learned in school, stretching themselves and learning about the workplace.

Many schools around the world, including MBA and other graduate programs require internships as part of their curriculum. While these 100% programs also can be improved, they are not our current focus. We’re focus on the internships that mostly high school and college students voluntarily seek out – because they’re smart enough to understand the benefit of the opportunity – though not all deliver on the promise of a mentoring experience. (These are the focus of discussion for people who believe that students should be paid for their internship experiences.)

However, at this moment I want to address a third option – the apprenticeships. As Lauren Weber recently noted in a Wall Street Journal article (April 28, 2014 R3), these programs offer another excellent way to close the skills gap that afflicts the US at this time. “It’s a great model for transferring skills from one generation to the other,” notes John Ladd, Director of the Department of Labor’s Office of Apprenticeships. Yet, formal programs that combine on-the-job learning with mengtorships and classroom education fell 40% in the US between 2003 and 2013!

What a shame.  Not every young person wants to go to college for an undergraduate degree which allegedly is a passport to white collar jobs. Some people prefer using their hands and applying them to great and lucrative careers including electricians, heating/AC, plumbing, and other construction trades. While the blue-collar image may be looked down by some people it can be very rewarding. One member of my Vistage group notes that he’s desperate to find new people for his plumbing/HVAC firm. The average worker can earn $50K by year two and if they are great communicators, can help sell jobs and earn six-figure incomes!   But finding people is virtually impossible.

The article refers to a number of innovative programs in several states; there are a few in New York where I’m based – but they are too few. “We’re projecting worker shortages in healthcare and advanced manufacturing,” says Karen Morgan, director of Wisconsin’s Bureau of Apprenticeship Standards.

Great apprenticeship programs provide the mentoring necessary for career success. Mentor Our Kids believes we need to give it a higher national and local priority. Find out what you can do to help encourage these opportunities as well.  Share with us your thoughts on how we can provide more apprenticeships and mentoring internships!

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