How many high school students actually have a conversation with their guidance counselor about apprenticeship programs available to them after they graduate? The answer is probably “not many”.

And that’s unfortunate because manufacturing is alive and well in the United States and apprenticeship programs offer a clear path to good paying jobs — jobs that too often go unfilled due to a lack of skilled workers.

In countries such as England and Germany apprenticeships have always been a standard part of the educational system but in the United States the programs are not as common as they used to be. That seems to be changing.

According to a U.S. Department of Labor study in 2011 there were almost 400,000 people enrolled in Registered Apprenticeship (RA) across the nation. The other good news coming out of this study – participants who completed a RA earned substantially higher earnings over their lifetime.

By providing structured on-the-job training along with related technical instruction, an apprentice can learn a valuable trade while working full time, thereby avoiding the Catch-22 of needing experience to get a good job and needing a job to get good experience. Often sponsoring companies can leverage classes offered by local colleges and universities, such as the Advance Technology College in Daytona Beach, to meet the educational requirements of their program.

The Florida Department of Education lists a variety of apprenticeship programs offered in Central Florida usually ranging from one to six years in length. For example, the Hudson Technologies Apprenticeship Program, which launched in June 2013, is a 4-year program.

Graduates from registered programs receive nationally recognized credentials and companies find skilled employees who are trained on the technology specific to their industry.

That sounds like a win-win situation, any way you look at it.

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