25.3 C
New York
Monday, August 15, 2022

Buy now

- Advertisement -

As Employers Rightsize Job Requirements, Apprenticeships Are Replacing College Degrees



- Advertisement -

Apprentice Network participants in Philadelphia celebrating their graduation.

Aon

Several years ago, Aon, the global professional services firm, began to rethink its traditional practice of requiring a college degree for several of its entry-level positions. It had always hired college graduates for many of its starting jobs, but as company officials began to analyze the skills demanded in those positions they recognized that their traditional practices were looking more and more like relics of the past, old habits of recruitment that overlooked large pools of talent right in their backyard.

So they hit reset and stopped requiring a college degree for several entry positions, building a two -year “earn and learn” apprenticeship program as a replacement. That model is proving to be a highly successful alternative to a college degree as an increasing number of employers look to answer their talent needs through the apprentice pathway rather than with college graduates.

- Advertisement -

Aon launched its apprenticeship program in Chicago in 2017. Working initially with Harold Washington College as part of the City Colleges of Chicago and Harper College in the Chicagoland suburbs, Aon’s apprenticeship combines academic instruction at a local community college with employment at Aon where students receive on-the-job training.

An apprentice spends 40 hours per week, split between working and attending classes to complete an associate’s degree. Aon covers the apprentice’s salary, benefits, and the costs of tuition, fees and books. After two years, when apprentices graduate from the program, they are offered permanent full-time positions with the company. The first cohort was comprised of 26 apprenticeships, but as the program has matured, the cohorts have gradually become larger.

READ ALSO:  How experts say you can make your resume stand out in "Great Reshuffle"

The program soon grew to include other Chicago-area employers. Accenture joined up. So did Zurich North America. From those first three companies, the Chicago Apprenticeship Network has continued to expand and now includes more than 75 major employers in a wide range of business sectors. As a key part of its growth, the program also gained recognition as a Department of Labor-certified Apprenticeship.

The overall structure of the apprenticeship program has remained fairly constant – a curated curriculum developed between a company and local community college, a paid apprenticeship, and a full-time job upon program completion – but individual companies can tailor the specifics of the curriculum to fit their business and workforce needs.

Initially, most of the full-time positions filled by apprentices were in three areas – HR, finance and IT. But as employers have gained more experience with the abilities of the apprentices, they’ve begun to open the doors wider to jobs in new areas such as cybersecurity and actuarial analysts.

In November 2020, Aon announced a $30 million investment to expand its own program and spur the development of local apprentice networks in six new locations: Northern California (launched in April 2021), Houston (launched in August 2021), Washington, D.C. (launched in April 2021), Philadelphia (launched in July 2021), New York (launched in early 2022) and Minneapolis-St. Paul (launched in July 2021).

READ ALSO:  Jonesville police department eyeing 48 hour shifts

Each of those new networks involves several large companies and a community college that offers the associate degree associated with the program. In each case, a local non-profit specializing in building new education-to-career pathways also is a partner. For example, in Chicago it’s One Million Degrees; in Philadelphia and San Francisco, it’s Summer Search.

The goal of the expansion is to create 10,000 new apprenticeships nationwide by 2030, spanning an increasing array of business groups such as financial services, hospitality, retail, banking, consulting, healthcare and technology.

I recently spoke with Bridget Gainer, Global Head of Policy and Public Affairs at Aon and one of the original developers of the apprenticeship program. She told me that the program had not only opened a new pipeline of skilled employees, but it also had a positive impact on retention and diversity.

Gainer emphasized that “The pendulum has swung so far, with only 37% of the U.S. population graduating with a four-year degree. If we continue to limit corporate jobs to a minority of the population, we are limiting the pool of talent from which we have to grow and diversify our future, resilient workforce. Apprenticeships open the doors wider, a win for both individuals and companies.”

READ ALSO:  Seven-Up Bottling Company Recruitment 2022 August

While the increasing popularity of apprenticeships in the U.S. has yet to catch up with the esteem they enjoy in other parts of the world, particularly in Europe, there can be no doubt that the apprentice tide is rising. According to one recent review, the number of apprentices registered with the Department of Labor surpassed 636,000 in 2020. That’s a 64% increase from the level only a decade ago.

It may be no coincidence that this increase occurs during the same period where college undergraduate enrollments have slumped, dropping by 9% between fall 2009 and 2020, equal to a loss of about 1.6 million students. While most Americans continue to believe that a college education is worth the costs, positive attitudes toward higher education are also weakening., and a four-year college degree is no longer seen as the only ticket to a prosperous life.

Apprenticeships are gaining traction because they offer a clear win-win proposition. Students gain a specific education that’s tied to a good job, and they’re paid to do so. Employers gain skilled workers, trained to their specifications, at a reasonable cost. Look for apprenticeships to continue to grow, filling a skilled worker pipeline that the nation needs to refill.

- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -

Related Articles

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Stay Connected

8,100FansLike
35,400FollowersFollow
2,458FollowersFollow
- Advertisement -

Latest Articles

DMCA.com Protection Status