What’s Happening in the US Apprenticeship Industry?

What’s Happening in the US Apprenticeship Industry?

Coverage of Trump’s Task Force on Apprenticeship Expansion


The Task Force on Apprenticeship Expansion submitted their final report to the President on May 10, 2018. The task force was initiated in response to President Trump’s June 15, 2017 Executive Order, Expanding Apprenticeships in America, “to identify strategies and proposals to promote apprenticeships, especially in sectors where apprenticeship programs are insufficient.”

The Secretary of Labor was chartered to establish a task force in response to the Administration’s recognition that America’s education and workforce programs “are in need of reform in order to meet the challenges of today’s rapidly changing economy, namely the “skills gaps” that result from a workforce that is insufficiently trained to fill existing and newly created jobs.”

Strategies and recommendations were to address the following areas:

  1. Federal initiatives to promote apprenticeships;
  2. Administrative and legislative reforms that would facilitate the formation and success of apprenticeship programs;
  3. The most effective strategies for creating Industry-Recognized Apprenticeships; and
  4. The most effective strategies for amplifying and encouraging private sector initiatives to promote apprenticeships.

Read the final report, here. 


The task force includes representatives from business, industry, labor, education and public officials, and is co-chaired by the secretaries of labor and education. Task force member and President and CEO of the American Association of Community Colleges(AACC), Walter G. Bumpus said “AACC and its member colleges are prepared to work with their partners to develop and enhance apprenticeships in order to better serve students and their communities.”

Community College Daily covered the task force examinations in a recent article that discusses the challenges companies, colleges, high schools, labor unions, trade associations and other institutions face.

Read the article, here.


One of the primary drivers behind apprenticeship program reform is the crippling US college debt. According to the report “The American higher education system is churning out a pool of in-debt job seekers who are not equipped to meet the skills needs of many employers in the modern American economy.”

The report further states that the traditional four-year education model “often is disconnected from business needs and not suited for providing workers the combination of skills and practical work experience that employers value.” And,

“Today, there are over 500,000 technology jobs open, but U.S. colleges and universities produce only 50,000 graduates each year, creating a shortfall in skilled candidates across economic sectors.”

Ouch!  How are college leaders responding?  Read the Inside Higher Ed coverage, here.


Just for fun: Curious about student debt statics, by geography? Check out a 2017 study, here.


Franklin Apprenticeships CEO Discusses Tomorrow’s Advanced Manufacturing Talent – Gen Z

Franklin Apprenticeships CEO Discusses Tomorrow’s Advanced Manufacturing Talent – Gen Z

In a recent article published in AdvancedManufacturing.org, Kim Nichols, Franklin Apprenticeships Founder and CEO, explains why Gen Z is a “match made by mother nature” for Advanced Manufacturers and apprenticeships.

Apprenticeship programs are becoming increasingly attractive to manufacturers, worldwide.  Yet, despite testimony from progressive US manufacturers who leverage apprenticeships to develop, grow, and retain workers in an effort to solve their skilled labor shortage – US adoption is still years behind other countries.

Gen Zers are not only perfect candidates for a modernization of the US manufacturing industry, but also for a modernization of the US apprenticeship industry.  This younger generation naturally embraces and executes the changes necessary for both of these emerging industries to continue to grow and thrive, a different approach than their millennial predecessors.

Read the article and find out why.

Cybersecurity Talent Shortage – A Solution for Financial Services and Insurance

Cybersecurity Talent Shortage – A Solution for Financial Services and Insurance

This US industry is prime for a cybersecurity apprenticeship movement!

Cybersecurity, one of the fastest growing job skills of the new economy, is also one that holds the fastest growing skills gap. For the financial services and insurance industry –the largest spenders and consumers of cybersecurity technology next to government – the cybersecurity talent shortage threat is significant.

The latest report from CyberSeek shows an estimated 285,681 job openings today. Every year, 40,000 information security jobs remain unfulfilled in the US. US employers also report a current deficit of over 200,000 “other security-related” roles.

The numbers get even more alarming. By 2021, Cybersecurity Jobs Report forecasts that the worldwide deficit of qualified cybersecurity professionals will reach 3.5 million. The cybersecurity talent shortage threat is significant globally.

What are the reactions from Financial Services and Insurance leaders? A recent McAfee report, Hacking the Skills Shortage: A focus on the cybersecurity skills shortage in Financial Services and Insurance reveal:

  • 82% of respondents report a shortage of cybersecurity skills
  • 71% of respondents attest that cybersecurity shortages leave companies vulnerable to hacking targets, reputation, and data loss
  • 53% of respondents say the cybersecurity skills shortage is their worst IT talent deficit
  • 50% of respondents believe a bachelor’ degree is required for field entry, even though few universities and colleges have cybersecurity concentrations
  • 76% of respondents feel government is not sufficiently investing in helping to develop cybersecurity talent

Why should US Financial Services and Insurance companies be primed for a cybersecurity apprenticeship movement?

  • Education and training investments are not optimized to suit how cybersecurity skills are best learned and applied. Apprenticeship programs create hands-on, multi dimensional learning environments.
  • Cybercrime is an evolving industry that grows in scale and sophistication. Traditional academic curriculum can’t prepare for what may have happened last week, nor predict what might happen next month. Apprenticeship programs create a learning culture that is real-time.
  • Competition for and scarcity of skilled labor causes wages to rise, and loyalties to shrink- especially in this industry.  Apprenticeships programs offer pathways to growth that balance skill development with increased earning potential. These standards increase retention and inspire loyalty.

Still, US apprenticeship programs remain scarce – despite proven results of program effectiveness in other countries. 21st century US apprenticeship programs in new skill areas (such as those relating to IT and cyber) are theoretically endorsed, politically supported, and conceptually embraced. Yet, overall US employer adoption is slow to take hold.

Build it, and they will come.  Companies need to collectively commit to advancing an apprenticeship movement.  As an industry at peak risk for cyber crime, US financial services and insurance companies should challenge their traditional recruitment and education paradigms.  Apprenticeships, as a strategic focus, can help to solve our nation’s growing cybersecurity talent shortage. And that, my FSI friends, results in a win/win for all concerned.

Modern Apprenticeships: A Tip for Modern Manufacturers

Modern Apprenticeships: A Tip for Modern Manufacturers

Area Development Interviews Franklin Apprenticeships CEO about Modern Apprenticeships

In a recent article, Apprenticeships are a Win-Win for Industries and Workers, Area Development’s editor asked our CEO, Kim Nichols, questions regarding today’s perception of manufacturing. They also discussed the status of the adoption of modern apprenticeships for workforce development in the US.

This topic is one that keeps creeping into our conversations with US journalists. Thankfully, they are passionate about getting to the bottom of the “apprenticeship” thing.

The recent interview discusses the blurring lines between the public perception of white-collar and blue-collar professions. It outlines the skilled labor shortages in advanced manufacturing.  It also reviews European apprenticeship program structures and successes, and explores ways businesses, educators, and economic developers can work together to develop modern apprenticeships.

Apprenticeships are not new to the US, but there is no question that modern apprenticeships represent a slowly progressing tipping point in the US.

According to Harvard Business Review’s article on tipping point leadership, tipping points “hinge on the insight that in any organization, once the beliefs and energies of a critical mass of people are engaged, conversion to a new idea will spread like an epidemic, bringing about fundamental change very quickly.”

So, what will it take for modern manufacturing leaders to make the fundamental shift in their organizational culture? How can they cross into the “new” apprenticeship threshold? A threshold that should tip and spread – such as it has in other countries?  According to Nichols, the first step involves collaboration, communication, and commitment.

We invite you to read the full article, here.

We also tip our hats to our friends in the media. Thank you for continuing to cover our quest for the fundamental change offered through modern apprenticeships.

New Report Outlines Options for US Apprenticeship Policy Changes

New Report Outlines Options for US Apprenticeship Policy Changes

5 Visionary Recommendations from Industry Experts

Ryan Craig and Tom Bewick are labor market and education experts with a vision. Craig is Managing Director of University Ventures, in addition to being speaker, writer, and analyst on 21st century workforce and education issues.  Bewick is President of the Transatlantic Apprenticeship Exchange forum, co-founder of Franklin Apprenticeships, and former advisor on apprenticeships to the British Government.

Their new co-authored report, Making Apprenticeships Work: 5 Policy Recommendations, comes in response to the Trump Administration’s bold initiative to create an additional 5 million apprenticeships by 2020, and sheds light on how to best leverage the increased federal funding for this lofty goal.  

Craig and Bewick provide a clear assessment of the existing US apprenticeship system, discuss the valuable attributes of model apprenticeship programs in current foreign labor markets, and propose a logical pathway to accelerate a world-class US apprenticeship movement.  

The report provides strong data to support its recommendations, including not only focused input from industry and political thought leaders, but also powerful and specific examples from European countries who have successfully modernized their apprenticeship models.

What are the authors’ 5 recommended policy change visions?

  • Shift the mind-set to digital apprenticeships by bringing emerging and fast-growing industries to the table;
  • Formalize and incentivize the role of apprenticeship service providers;
  • Clarify federal funding for apprenticeship programs;
  • Build apprenticeships at the industry level, rather than one employer at a time; and
  • Encourage the public sector to lead by example by implementing government apprenticeship programs.

The US apprenticeship movement has lagged behind its European counterparts for years. It is time for us to turn around US perceptions, and to consider US policy approaches that can advance program awareness, funding, adoption, execution, and effectiveness.

We need to proactively embrace the vision of a modernized US apprenticeship movement.  Apprenticeships can spur a sustainable, socioeconomic reality shift to help address:

  • Traditional education’s inadequacy to effectively groom tomorrow’s thinkers
  • Outdated workforce planning, recruitment and training methodologies
  • Growing employer concerns about attracting critical 21st century workers
  • Increased levels of student debt

To that end, Craig and Bewick offer this insightful report for policymakers, educators, employers, and communities to carefully examine as a springboard for reflection and discussion.

As Ben Franklin, our firm’s historical mascot, said:

Genius is the ability to hold one’s vision steady until it becomes reality.”

Recent Report Validates Room for US Apprenticeship Expansion

Recent Report Validates Room for US Apprenticeship Expansion

Can Market Facts Change Market Perceptions?

A recently released report from Harvard Business School and Burning Glass Technologies validates the fact that there is opportunity to expand US apprenticeships into new fields of occupations.   Room to Grow, Identifying New Frontiers for Apprenticeships analyzed the Burning Glass job postings data and discovered:

Ø  The number of occupations using apprenticeships could be expanded from 27 to 74;

Ø  The number of job openings filled by apprentices could grow from 410,000 to roughly 3.3 million;

Ø  Many of these new fields pay more than current apprenticeship occupations, with up to a $20,000 salary premium; and,

Ø  Many of these occupations are difficult for employers to fill using current channels.

All of this data comes on the coattails of the Trump Administration’s goal to create 5 million new apprenticeships in the next 5 years.  To meet the 5 year growth objective, the current number of active apprenticeships – 505,371 in the last quarter of 2016 – will need to increase almost tenfold.

The report analyzed the largest concentration of US apprenticeships today (Core Apprenticeship Occupations), and identified two additional groups of occupations (Expanders and Boosters) that fit the apprenticeship model as logical candidates for program expansion.

Clearly, there is significant growth potential in the US apprenticeship system.  Expansion means greater career options for individuals to gain employment, and greater recruitment and training alternatives for employers to develop skills, retain talent, and remain competitive. As such, the challenge for the US to reach its goal should just be a common sense win?  Right?

Unfortunately, it is not that simple.

Many employers lack the willingness to change their current systems; and many parents and young adults lack the awareness to change their current beliefs.   American’s maintain a jaded perception of apprenticeships – one that is outdated and devoid of fact.

Employers: Perception vs. Fact

Perception:  Apprenticeships are expensive.

Fact: In countries where apprenticeship programs are more widespread, apprenticeships have reduced hiring costs by providing a streamlined channel of new talent, have reduced attrition by building a common loyalty between company and employee, have reduced business losses by filling vacancies with skilled labor, and have increased productivity.  In the UK, for instance, 72 percent of businesses report improved productivity as a result of employing an apprentice.

Perception: Apprenticeships are not suited for degree positions.

Fact: According to the study, employers are trapped in “degree inflation.” Many positions that “prefer” or “require” a bachelor degree involve skills that can be accomplished by non-degree workers. While performance metrics cite equal achievement from both degree and non-degree workers, degree workers are shown to have higher salary expectation, higher turnover, and less job satisfaction.  

Apprentice programs scale salaries as skill completion is satisfied, and are known for high retention and job satisfaction.

Perception: A degree candidate will have better soft skills.

Fact:  Payscale surveyed hiring managers and asked them to weigh in on the critical soft skills gaps found in their recent grad talent pool.  Those cited as the top deficiencies include: critical thinking, problem solving, attention to detail, and writing proficiency.

Apprenticeship programs foster and develop soft skills as a primary course of study. Soft skills, by nature, are situational and best learned in the field, as opposed to the classroom.

Parents and Young Adults: Perception vs. Fact

Perception: Apprenticeships are mostly lower income, trade positions.

Fact:  The study indicated opportunities beyond Core Apprenticeship Occupations for apprenticeship programs in the Expanders (+21) and Boosters (+26) categories, with the Boosters category as the most compelling avenue for middle-class earnings.  Apprenticeships also provide fertile ground for the newly emerging jobs of the 21st century. My post Congressional Bill Announcement: The CHANCE in Tech Act outlines the initiatives underway to help solve the IT skills shortage that we face as a nation.  IT jobs, as example, are known to be high-income level entry opportunities in areas of emerging growth.   

Perception: Apprenticeships are a second rate alternative to the gold standard of a 4 year degree.

Fact: The 4 year degree is no longer the gold standard of education.  Much of today’s college curriculum does not cover areas of study that are required in the emerging job market, and often includes areas of study that are not relevant to career outcomes.

Apprenticeships provide occupational and employer-specific education suited to match the skills employers need to grow and remain competitive.  Apprentices, as they work through a development plan, can also develop a wider variety of skills that can lead to a more fulfilling, successful career.

Perception:  Investment in a college degree will pay off.

Fact: Unfortunately  Accenture Strategy 2016 U.S. College Graduate Employment Study shows underemployment for recent grads is the current reality: 51% of 2014/2015 graduates report working in jobs that do not require their college degree, a steady increase of 10% since 2013. While those numbers keep climbing, so does the average student loan debt. Edvisors reports an average of $35,051— the highest in history.

Apprentices earn while they learn. An apprenticeship also provides a pathway into a career with higher earnings, without the need to incur gobs of debt.  The ability to work with mentors and focus specifically on the job at hand leads to faster advancement into positions with even higher wages.

Yes, there is room for expansion of US apprenticeships. I have only touched on a sampling of the flawed perceptions in the market, today.

Until we can replace outdated perceptions and continue to educate the market with current facts, the American Apprenticeship Movement will remain a challenge.  Thank you, Harvard Business School and Burning Glass Technologies, for taking on this study to help tackle that challenge!


Kim Nichols Published In Manufacturing.net

Kim Nichols Published In Manufacturing.net

The US’ manufacturing industry is facing a talent crisis. There are key roles in the industry that need to be filled by skilled workers, and the country doesn’t have enough. In an article published in December 2017, Kim Nichols, CEO of Franklin Apprenticeships discusses the need enhance and modernize America’s apprenticeship programs.

According to a recent study by Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute, it is estimated that there will be a significant shortage of skilled American workers between now and the year 2025. This shortage of some two million skilled employees equals a major crises for industry in the US.

Outside of America, other countries have successfully addressed skills gaps by implementing and organizing apprenticeship programs. Benefits of apprenticeships include generating interest in skilled labor jobs, creating a greater talent pool for manufacturing jobs, increased ROI on training and education programs, and more.

In this recent Manufacturing.net article, Kim Nichols details the top benefits of implementing modern apprenticeship programs, and discusses why it’s critical that America overhaul and implement a sustainable apprenticeship industry. Read the full article here.

Who Will Take Care of Mom and Dad?

Who Will Take Care of Mom and Dad?

Addressing America’s Growing Home Health Aide Crisis

Home Health Aides – a member of the Direct Care Workers category alongside Nursing Assistants (usually known as Certified Nursing Assistants or CNAs), and Personal Care Aides – is one of the lowest paying fields in not only healthcare, but also in the economy. In 2016, the Bureau of Labor and Statistics reported a median annual wage of $22,600 – which is lower than the median annual wage for all occupations in the economy.

When considering the need for home health aides is projected to grow 38 percent from 2014 to 2024 (a rate much faster than the average for all occupations), and the growing population of elderly — one has to step back and ask the question: Who will take care of Mom and Dad?

According to a United States Census Bureau Report, “An Aging World: 2015”, America’s 65-and-older population is currently 48 million, and it is expected to reach 88 million by 2050. So, if you are now awakening to the awareness that one day – in the not too distant future – you shall be classified as “aging”, the question comes even closer to home. Who will take care of me?

How can we attract, retain, and train quality workers to address this growing American crisis? Home health care is an emotionally and physically demanding job. It is a low income ($10.87/hr. is the reported average), high stress (lifting people in and out of bed, helping them to toilet, shower, eat, stay active, and often dealing with challenging behaviors), and sometimes, thankless job. It is not surprising that the average turnover/ burn out rate is 40-60%.

For those who remain committed to the occupation, many still need government subsidies such as low-income housing, food stamps, and Medicaid. About a third receive food stamps, and 28 percent rely on Medicaid for health insurance. In short, there are not a lot of perks provided to the caregivers tending to our loved ones.

What do we hear from agencies that struggle to meet supply and demand? One issue is that they have difficulty getting people through 90-day training programs without taking a loss. The cost to put workers through training is often not returned before the worker leaves.

How can apprenticeship programs help? Apprenticeships offer the agency – and the worker – a structured screening, training, and mentoring program. They can also work to establish upward training so that, even if an individual enters the occupation at the entry level, there is opportunity for advancement through ongoing career planning, and education. That not only makes the career more attractive, but it also creates a waterfall effect to help deal with other direct care worker shortages, such as RNs, social workers, and LPNs.

If you have had to go through the headaches of finding a home health aide for a parent, this common sense approach may seem too simple to be true—especially given the dire state of worker shortages.

But, who do you want to take care of Mom and Dad during their last golden days? Someone who feels happy, hopeful, and rewarded with their own career potential, or someone who has to struggle to maintain their own quality of life?

If you have had the opportunity to watch apprenticeship programs unfold, you would agree that age-old, common sense approaches to skilled labor development is one solution. And this is one solution that just may contribute to creating a better future for us all.

Congressional Bill Announcement: The CHANCE in Tech Act

Congressional Bill Announcement: The CHANCE in Tech Act

America Is Getting Proactive About IT Apprenticeships

On September 10, 2017, a new Congressional bill was introduced in Senate, and this one has us really excited!

S. 1518: “To direct the Secretary of Labor to enter into contracts with industry intermediaries for purposes of promoting the development of and access to apprenticeships in the technology sector, and for other purposes,” was referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.

We all should be excited about its fruition, as it will work to help modernize American IT apprenticeships.

Coined the “ CHANCE in Technology Act” – which is short for the “Championing Apprenticeships for New Careers and Employees in Technology Act” – this bill gets right to the heart of the core issues we American’s face regarding skilled labor shortages suffered today¬– and forecasted for future – in the IT industry.

Rather than attempting to paraphrase the Congressional Findings, I am directly citing them, below. The findings are solid with facts that speak volumes.


Congress finds the following:

(1) During any given 90-day period there can be more than 500,000 information technology job openings in the United States.

(2) Employment in the technology sector is growing twice as fast as employment in the United States.

(3) Jobs in the technology sector tend to provide higher pay and better benefits than other jobs and have been more resilient to economic downturn than jobs available in other private sector industries.

(4) Information technology skills are transferable across nearly all industries.

(5) Exceptional education and on-the-job training programs exist and should be scaled to meet the demands of the modern technology workforce.

(6) Adoption of existing employer-driven intermediary models, such as ApprenticeshipUSA under the Department of Labor, will help grow the information technology workforce.

(7) Career pathway education should start in high school through pathways and programs of study that align with local and regional employer needs.

(8) Preparing a student for a job in the technology sector is essential to the growth and competitiveness of the economy in the United States in the 21st century.

(9) Nearly 800,000 information technology workers will retire between 2017 and 2024.

(10) In 2016, the average salary in the information technology sector was $108,000, while the average salary among all other sectors was $53,040.

We have shared our insights on the need for IT apprenticeships as it relates to the pending 4th Industrial Revolution. This is a Revolution, much like those before, that is critical to our country. Just as in previous Revolutions, we are encountering a critical shift to keep pace with job skills. Some will completely go away, and others   do not even exist, yet. It is an exciting time, but one that must be met with action.

We have also provided a two-part case study that outlines how Microsoft UK has leveraged apprenticeships to help solve their skilled labor shortages. There is much we can learn from countries who are further along the path with these programs.

Progress can take time, but there are ways to fast-track apprenticeship adoption.

It is time for America to pick up the pace and prioritize Apprenticeship programs. And, the CHANCE in Tech Act represents a movement in that direction. The bill addresses our ability to remain competitive as a nation, accelerates our adoption of shifting trends as they unfold, and allows for economic success in our communities.

If you want to learn more about the emergence of the 21st century IT apprentice, contact us, here.

The Growing Technological Skills Gap in the Wake of the Fourth Industrial Revolution

The Growing Technological Skills Gap in the Wake of the Fourth Industrial Revolution

Are Apprenticeships an Answer?

We have faced three industrial revolutions, and, according to the World Economic Forum, a Fourth Industrial Revolution is imminent. On the coat tails of the Third Industrial Revolution of 1969, which brought us mass production, this next phase is a technological revolution, described as “the advent of ‘cyber-physical systems’ involving entirely new capabilities for people and machines.”

Ushering in this evolution are exciting transformational technologies – artificial intelligence, the ‘Internet of Things’, Big Data, 3D printing – some of which we have already begun to embrace, and others we have yet to fully realize or comprehend.

But with massive labor shortages in critical IT areas, educational systems that have fallen behind the rest of the world, and corporations that have slashed training budgets, are 21st century companies in the US really prepared for this coming revolution?

The World Economic Forum’s The Future of Jobs Employment, Skills and Workforce Strategy for the Fourth Industrial Revolution explores the profoundly shifting landscape. Transformative technologies, creating major disruption to traditional business models, will have “a significant impact on jobs, ranging from significant job creation to job displacement, and from heightened labor productivity to widening skills gaps.”

So how can the IT industry – paradoxically at the forefront of digital disruption, yet struggling to fill vital roles in emerging technologies – keep up?

According to The Manpower Group’s 2016/2017 Talent Shortage Survey, the global shortage in IT talent has jumped from seventh to second position, with nearly 600,000 IT openings in the US alone. And, as technological disruption advances, this gap will continue to widen.

One fundamental change necessary to close the widening talent gap is the modernization of an apprenticeship system.  The apprenticeship workforce model — developed following the first industrial revolution — successfully altered attitudes toward training for the most formative industries of that era.   And, it can serve the same purpose, today.

Modernization of the apprenticeship model involves, first and foremost, adjusting perceptions about how we recruit, train, and advance our workers for today, and the future. Progressive IT companies are already thinking and acting differently to reinvent staffing and training practices. Industry leaders are retooling training budgets to accommodate apprenticeship programs, and working directly with secondary educators to develop real-life accredited on the job course curriculums as a proactive means to widen their talent pool.

As we learned from our second and third industrial revolution predecessors, a well-planned and executed apprenticeship program is an opportunity to discover talent in hidden pockets, reduce recruitment costs, and retain teams of loyal employees.  Apprenticeships represented an earn-while-you-learn model that worked to bolster one revolution, and could be the answer to supporting the next one.


Join the movement. Learn how your company can prepare for the coming revolution. Contact Franklin Apprenticeships.