You’re forgiven if you somehow missed “National Apprenticeship Week” two weeks ago, as I didn’t catch up with it myself until last Friday, nearly a week late. I’ve long celebrated “National School Choice Week” every January, but beyond that I admit to little enthusiasm for most “Weeks,” much less “Days.” They include, today as I write, “Start Your Own Country Day”; “National Escargot Day” on my birthday; and the awkwardly coincidental “International Moment of Frustration Scream Day” on my anniversary.
But along with the one for school choice, National Apprenticeship Week is the real deal, particularly as marked this year by the Washington-based Urban Institute, which under the leadership of economist Robert Lerman, has been an essential voice for a long time conducting scholarly research about apprenticeships and advocating their much larger adoption in the United States. As increasingly recognized and lamented, our country takes far less advantage of apprenticeships than many other places around the world.
I had known of Bob Lerman and his work before serving with him on an American Enterprise Institute panel a couple of years ago, and then interviewing him for Education Roads Less Traveled: Solving America’s Fixation on Four-Year Degrees. I learned a lot each time. In fact, it was what he said during the AEI discussion that led directly to the start of American Experiment’s ongoing project, “Great Jobs Without a Four-Year Degree” in 2017.
As for how he helped again last week in advancing apprenticeships in this country, the Urban Institute released two things:
An excellent, 20-minute podcast, “Youth Apprenticeship: Connecting High School Students to Work-Based Learning,” featuring Urban Institute researchers, a workforce development practitioner, and a high school apprentice. The link is https://urbn.is/2qtD0R9.
And a major anthology, Skilling Up: The Scope of Modern Apprenticeship, produced in collaboration with the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet. As noted by my colleagues Kathy Kersten and Catrin Wigfall, Kentucky is doing more than almost any other state in strengthening and promoting non-four-year routes to good jobs and careers. The 300-page anthology is intended for policymakers, practitioners, employers, trainers, and (not least) students. It can be found at https://urbn.is/35jeCiU.
The two items are well-worth a listen and a read.