Top Reads for the New Year

Top Reads for the New Year

Making a 2020 Resolution Towards Change –

Happy 2020 from Franklin Apprenticeships! As we embark on yet another year into the 4th Industrial Revolution, we think it is time for some New Year resolutions – resolutions that can continue to bring change to how we view education and opportunity for America’s workforce.

With that, Franklin Apprenticeships would like to keep the change momentum top of mind by sharing a list of some top reads to start off the New Year!

America’s Moment Creating Opportunity in the Connected Age A Book by Rework America — The Markel Economic Future Initiative

Digital transformation: Are you ready for the digital age?

Amid the biggest economic transformation in a century, the challenge of our time is to make sure that all Americans benefit from the wave of digital revolutions around the world that have permeated and upended modern life. Yet today’s economic arguments seem stuck. We need a new vision of a hopeful future and a new action agenda.

We have been here before.  A hundred years ago, America experienced the greatest economic transformation and technological revolution in its history.  The transformation of the past 20 years— as the world has moved through the information era into the digital age— has turned our life and work upside down once again.  It is a time of tremendous change but also of tremendous possibility.

Set against the history of how Americans succeeded once before in remaking their country, America’s Moment is about the future. It describes how the same forces of change—technology and a networked world—can become tools that can open opportunity to everyone.

A New U: Faster + Cheaper Alternatives to College by Ryan Craig and Allen Blue

Pop quiz: The cost of a college education continues to rise, as the value continues to drop.  Isn’t it time for alternative solutions?

So many things are getting faster and cheaper.  Movies stream into your living room without a ticket or concession-stand costs.  The world’s libraries are at your fingertips instantly and for free. 

So why is a college education the only thing that seems immune to change?  Colleges and universities operate much as they did 40 years ago, with one major exception: tuition expenses have risen dramatically.  What’s more, earning a degree takes longer than ever before, with the average time to graduate now over five years. 

As a result, graduates often struggle with enormous debt burdens.  Even worse, they often find that degrees did not prepare them to obtain and succeed at good jobs in growing sectors of the economy.  While many learners today would thrive with an efficient and affordable postsecondary education, the slow and pricey road to a bachelor’s degree is starkly the opposite.

In A New U: Faster + Cheaper Alternatives to College, Ryan Craig documents the early days of a revolution that will transform—or make obsolete—many colleges and universities.  Alternative routes to great first jobs that do not involve a bachelor’s degree are sprouting up all over the place.  Bootcamps, income-share programs, apprenticeships, and staffing models are attractive alternatives to great jobs in numerous growing sectors of the economy: coding, healthcare, sales, digital marketing, finance and accounting, insurance, and data analytics. 

College Unbound: The Future of Higher Education and What It Means for Students by Jeffrey J. Selingo 

The debate continues: What is the value of a college degree?

The four-year college experience is as American as apple pie.  So is the belief that higher education offers a ticket to a better life.  But with student-loan debt surpassing the $1 trillion mark and unemployment of college graduates at historic highs, people are beginning to question that value.

In College (Un)bound, Jeffrey J. Selingo, editor at large of the Chronicle of Higher Education, argues that America’s higher education system is broken.  The great credential race has turned universities into big business and fostered an environment where middle-tier colleges can command elite university-level tuition while concealing staggeringly low graduation rates, churning out graduates with few of the skills needed for a rapidly evolving job market.

Beyond Tech The Rising Demand for IT Skills in Non-Tech Industries by Burning Glass Technologies and Oracle

Oracle and Burning Glass report: Are you aware that nearly 90% of tech jobs are outside the formal technology sector?

In 2018, there were 6,950,954 online IT job openings, accounting for 24% of all online job openings.  The vast majority of openings — 89% — were in non-tech industries… This trend of high levels of IT jobs outside of tech holds for many of the largest roles typically associated with the tech industry — such as software developers and network engineers — suggesting that there are opportunities for IT workers outside of the tech industry across a broad spectrum of IT occupations.

Why Tech Companies Should Offer Apprenticeships by The Consumer Technology Association (CTA)

The American Tech Skills Gap: How are leading companies leveraging apprenticeship as a solution?

The technology industry has become the engine of American growth, generating more than 1.9 million jobs between 2010 and 2018.  Today, the sector accounts for nearly 12% of U.S. GDP. 

Increasingly, all companies are tech companies — meaning that the future of the American workforce is a high-tech one.  But that success has also created a growing skills gap: In September 2019, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that about 5.8 million Americans were unemployed even as 7 million jobs remained unfilled.  Many of these jobs require mid- to high-level skill sets.

These figures are indicative of a common problem: Companies, especially in the tech sector, struggle to grow as quickly as they could if workers’ skills matched those employers need.  The result is that businesses are leaving behind talented individuals who lack the skills to access high-quality, high paying jobs.

To meet the challenge, some of the most cutting edge companies in the country are turning to an old solution: apprenticeship. For centuries, apprenticeships have enabled employers to develop the skills they seek while giving individuals valuable, paid work experience.  In 2018, about 585,000 Americans participated in state and federal registered apprenticeships, a number that has grown every year since 2011. 

The CTA Apprenticeship Coalition is encouraging this trend by helping tech companies incorporate apprenticeships into their talent pipeline strategies.  This white paper will help employers understand why and how to get started.


Are you ready to make additions to your New Year’s resolution? Are you seeking inspiration and education about the changing face of the American Workforce? 

Our mission is to unlock opportunities for job seekers, employers, state agencies, and educators — all through modern apprenticeship.

Together, we are




Contact us to learn more about our plans for 2020, and beyond.

Modernizing Apprenticeship Programs in the United States: The Top Four Issues Under Discussion Today [Blog Post]

Modernizing Apprenticeship Programs in the United States: The Top Four Issues Under Discussion Today [Blog Post]

Apprenticeships, once a system supervised by craft guilds and town governments, have a long history throughout the world as a means to employ young people under the guidance of master craftsmen.   Apprentices offered merchant shop owners an inexpensive form of labor in exchange for food, lodging, and formal training.

The allure of conventional apprenticeship programs remained most popular with the unions and military, especially in the construction and manufacturing industries. Over time, technical, formal, and vocational education changed the structure of apprenticeships, and bureaucratized the programs.

Today, the system is resurging around the globe – but at varying degrees of interest, and success. But, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, here in the U.S., apprenticeship programs remain relatively rare, with fewer than 450,000 registered apprenticeship programs in a civilian workforce of 160 million.

Why, then, at a time in which our country continues to struggle with growing educational debt, increasing community college drop-out rates, and the ongoing shortage of skilled labor, are we not racing to adopt the best practice of our U.K. neighbors across the pond?

According to Sarah Ayres Steinberg, a former policy analyst at the Center for American Progress in Washington, D.C., “Apprenticeship programs in the U.K. are promoted as a cost-effective and viable alternative to university-based education. The U.K. apprenticeship initiative is a model that we in the United States should consider following.”

Susan Ladika’s article Apprenticeships: Can they help solve the skills gap? published by CQ Researcher last month, noted a number of issues that we currently struggle with as 21st Century Americans. Our businesses – heavily comprised of debt-burdened college graduates competing for top positions – lack middle-skilled workers in labor markets. While industries of the strongest mention are healthcare, information technology, and manufacturing, labor market experts say that nearly half of all U.S. job openings between 2010 and 2020 will be for middle-skilled jobs.

Outlined, below, are the top four issues under discussion today, in the United States.

  1. Funding: Through the Obama Administration’s American Apprenticeship initiative, program goals will increase the number of apprenticeships to 750,000 before the end of the decade. The initiative awarded $265 million in grants to public-private partnerships between employers, organized labor, educational institutions, and others. The question remains whether or not the subsidies are large enough to attract employers.
  1. Perception: American society equates a four year degree to career success and stability. Apprenticeship programs are mistakenly viewed as culturally inferior and occupationally limiting. Workers are unfamiliar with the range of occupations, educational requirements, and salaries associated with apprenticeships.
  1. Awareness: Businesses are not aware of the benefits apprenticeship programs can provide. The perception is that the time, money, and effort involved in adopting a program is a long-term investment that holds too many risks. The fact is, businesses need guidance figuring out where to start, what to expect, and how to manage the process to achieve a meaningful return on investment.
  1. Execution: Mentoring models that can help guide execution are scarce in the United States. To succeed, businesses require an operational and implementation plan, which includes realizing and growing interest from employers, raising awareness with relevant training providers, securing training providers and matching curriculum to employer needs, maximizing government funding, and engaging and recruiting apprentice candidates.

These issues – along with a wealth of academic resources – are discussed in detail in Susan Ladika’s CQ Researcher article. It offers many insights that are well worth the time to digest, and consider.

The recent US presidential election result shows that there is an urgent need to re-skill America with high quality, sustainable jobs. The foundation of these new opportunities will come from a renewed effort to invest in skilled apprenticeships that help US firms compete on a level playing field with the rest of the world. What can we do to help address the challenges, to learn from the experiences offered from countries further along the path, and to speed adoption in the U.S.?

At Franklin Apprenticeships, we are focused on building the infrastructure to support a successful apprenticeship ecosystem in the United States. We welcome the opportunity to discuss these issues with you, first hand.