What The United States Can Learn From Scotland’s Apprenticeship Expansion

Career College Central summary:

  • This week, more than 1,000 Scottish companies will participate in Scottish Apprenticeship Week 2014, highlighting the success of the country’s recent efforts to dramatically increase apprenticeships. As U.S. policymakers set out to double the number of apprenticeships in America over the next five years, Scotland serves as an example of a country that has done just that.
  • As detailed in a recent Center for American Progress report, “Training for Success: A Policy to Expand Apprenticeships in the United States,” apprenticeships help businesses meet the demand for skilled workers while offering workers higher wages and better employment outcomes. In particular, apprenticeships can benefit Millennials, who face disproportionately high unemployment rates, low-wage jobs, rising college costs, and spiraling student debt.
  • These were some of the considerations that Scottish lawmakers took into account when they set out in 2008 and 2009 to expand the Modern Apprenticeship programme initially developed in the 1990s. They set a goal of 25,000 new apprentices annually starting in 2011, expanded the types of apprenticeships available, launched a nationwide marketing campaign, created new financial incentives, and introduced new government apprenticeships.
  • As a result, Scotland has more than doubled its number of apprenticeship starts, while also increasing the gender and occupational diversity of apprenticeship opportunities. In fact, Scotland’s apprenticeship program now dwarfs that of the United States, with more than nine times as many people per capita starting apprenticeship programs in Scotland than in the United States.
  • Consider that Scotland started 25,700 new apprentices in the 2012–2013 financial year—up from 10,600 in the 2008–2009 financial year. If the United States had an equivalent number of apprentices in the population, we would see more than 1.5 million workers start apprenticeship programs every year. Instead, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Apprenticeship registered just 164,000 new apprentices in 2013.

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