The battle against inequality continues to be front and center throughout American society, and especially in the workplace, as employers devote more and more attention to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI).
While there is neither a single cause nor a single cure for inequality in the workplace, our educational system undoubtedly plays a role. Students in underserved groups and communities often lack access to the elements of a quality education. Again, this is due to a number of factors, but the end result is that minority and low-income students attend college at a rate far lower than their peers.
For one example, in 2016 the Department of Education noted that in 11 states exactly zero Black students sat for the Advanced Placement exam in computer science. No Hispanic students participated in eight states.
The Results of Inequality in Education
The effects of this educational inequality have a negative impact throughout our economy. A 2020 Investopedia article notes that an increased labor supply creates downward pressure on wage rates. That downward pressure is especially harmful in industries with low barriers to entry for new employees – jobs that require no specialized training or degree.
Put another way, the absence of education can result in not only low-paying employment but a vicious cycle of competition that offers little hope for increased compensation.
The Path to Higher Pay
That same article notes that there are fewer people competing for jobs where training and education are required, the result being higher wages overall. The catch is that the education and training often carry a prohibitive price tag. The spiraling costs of a four-year college degree have been well-documented, and even non-college training can be too costly for some.
With all that as background, you may begin to understand why we’re so passionate about apprenticeships as a vehicle to address these inequities. Tech apprenticeships are oriented towards careers that are in high demand. Not only is all the required training delivered at no cost to the apprentice, they’re paid by their employer from the very first day. That training leads to industry-recognized certifications, and it’s all done during business hours so candidates don’t have to burn the candle at both ends to get ahead in their careers.
For all these reasons and others, our pool of apprentices tends to be much more diverse than the tech workforce as a whole, not only in ethnicity, but in age and background as working parents and ex-military personnel return to the office. In short, the apprenticeship model by design addresses inequalities in the workplace.
Changing the American Workforce is more than our slogan. It’s what we do every day.