Globalization, economic reforms, and technological change are transforming the workplace and the types of jobs that will be offered in the future. Astute employers realize it’s critical to have access to a well-positioned pipeline of workers with 21st-century skills, according to a newly released report from the Institute for Workplace Skills and Innovation.
This remains important during the COVID-19 pandemic, stressed IWSI CEO Nicholas Wyman.
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“It’s very important [for] employers to take a long-range view to workforce development,” Wyman said. “Many employers want to maintain their workforces, however, are facing the reality of slowing or in some cases of forced closures with little or no revenue to pay their workers. This may see many companies forced to downsize. This could be a costly mistake.”
Modern apprenticeships can effectively re-skill workers
The IWSI report said employers should think about a “modern apprenticeship,” to reskill America. A modern apprenticeship is an “enlightened 21st-century career pathway—a blend of classroom learning and work-based training aimed at preparing individuals of any age to meet sophisticated talent needs.”
The key to America’s economic success in the years to come will be a workforce that is agile and continuously evolving, the report said.
Wyman said the institute is urging employers to consider the importance of investing in America’s future “by continuing to give young people a go as apprentices through these challenging times.”
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A modern apprenticeship is a work-based training program aimed at preparing people of any age to meet sophisticated talent needs, the report said. Such apprenticeships are available in a broad range of 21st-century industries and occupations from cybersecurity, healthcare, and data analytics to hospitality management, green sciences, engineering, and advanced manufacturing.
Key components of a modern apprenticeship, according to the report, are:
• Customized, supervised, and paid on-the-job training at reduced or no cost
• Wages graduated in step with skills gained during training
• Related classroom instruction (on or off site) to reinforce technical skills learned in the workplace
• Formalized mentoring and coaching
• Nationally recognized industry credentials or specialized technical certification earned for demonstrating the achievement of workplace competencies
• Optional college credit leading to an associate or bachelor’s degree at little to no additional expense
Modern apprenticeship programs vary in length, depending on the employer and industry, according to the report. Detailed work-based training components are determined by the employer or industry sponsors, and apprentices advance based on achieved competencies, the report said.
Think about the big picture
Wyman’s advice to employers is that “the coming weeks and months could be the best window of opportunity this decade to bring in talented people through apprenticeship programs who can be skilled up and ready when the economy turns around.”
It is important to consider the workforce expansion opportunities that will come from COVID-19, which will lead to a need for more modern apprenticeship programs, Wyman added. For example, there is likely to be an increase in health and human services employment, “and we can expect governments worldwide to reorient their thinking about the role and scope of government services,” he said.
The coronavirus will also create more opportunities for businesses providing technology and data-driven products and services in areas like supply chain logistics, cloud IT and automation, as businesses seek to develop operating processes and systems that can withstand any future COVID-19-like shocks, Wyman said.
“For companies with apprentices the message is clear: Stand firm. Use this opportunity for additional training.”