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October 21, 2014

Are Apprenticeships the New Internships?

At least one of the tech giants is thinking about resurrecting a job from the nation’s distant industrial past: the apprenticeship.

“What we’ve tried to bring back from Germany is to start to bring back the apprentice model,” Eric Spiegel, head of Siemens USA, said Thursday at a New America Foundation event. Spiegel said he wasn’t sure if the exact German system would work in the U.S. but that Siemens had programs in a couple locations and that they were working well.

The idea is to go to school part time, work part time, getting paid and after two years receive a degree, get certified and be guaranteed a job with no debt, and gets a starting salary of $55,000, he said.

Compare that to the average four-year liberal arts graduate who makes less than $40,000 annually and has about $30,000 in debt, he said.

The U.S. has to “start thinking about that model or other models like it,” he said.

This isn’t the first time Spiegel has talked about the issue.

Robert Atkinson, president of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, thinks ramping up apprenticeships is possible, but said there are challenges.

The thing about Germany is that it has this “nice virtuous cycle” where companies have access to highly-skilled technical labor because of apprenticeships and other programs, which makes them more willing to invest in upgrading technologies requiring more highly-skilled workers and have the people to fill those jobs, Atkinson said in a phone interview with Technocrat.

It’s the opposite cycle for U.S. companies, starting with companies not investing in skills development, according to Atkinson.

And in Germany, there’s less worker turnover, so there’s less of the disincentive in the U.S. of training workers to see them leave for another company, he said.

In addition, the cultural acceptance of certain business behaviors differs between Germany and the U.S., according to Atkinson.

The Obama Administration announced last month $100 million for an apprenticeship grants program.

The idea of apprenticeships has been kicking around in media for a while.

Dev Bootcamp co-founder Dave Hoover, wrote an op-ed on the issue in Wired earlier this year.

 

  • Dopple Gang

    If one claims that the state should reduce discontent due to envy, one will also claim that the liberty to earn unequal incomes is unfair.

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