Apprenticeships play a crucial role in supporting the development of business-ready skills for youth and in realizing goals of inclusive economic growth and an equitable transition to a more sustainable world. In light of this, The USCIB Foundation, which is the educational and research arm of USCIB, partnered with Citi and the Global Apprenticeship Network (GAN) to organize a roundtable on July 20 in New York focused on apprenticeship models and practice in the U.S. The roundtable included representatives of approximately 25 companies who are either actively implementing apprenticeship programs or are interested in getting started. John Ladd, the administrator for the Office of Apprenticeship of the U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL) joined the meeting.
Ladd, who gave keynote remarks, discussed the context of what is driving interest in apprenticeships in the United States. “It would have been hard to imagine this conversation happening 10 years ago,” said Ladd. What changed? In particular, Ladd noted, unemployment is decreasing yet millions are still underemployed or unemployed and there is a clear mismatch between employers with jobs that have certain skills requirements and people in the sidelines who don’t yet have those skills. To address these challenges, employers – in partnership with government and educational institutions like community colleges – have identified apprenticeships as an effective means to help provide a path to employment for workers and to fill their own hiring needs with workers with the right skills for their jobs. The Executive Order on apprenticeships recently signed by President Donald Trump provides a framework for the key role USDOL will play in supporting business in this key area.
The hour-long breakout session led to a collaborative discussion among companies, nonprofits and NGO’s in attendance on both solutions and common challenges that need to be addressed, such as the need to educate students, communities and families about the benefits of apprenticeships in lieu of 2-year or 4-year post-secondary options. Other challenges raised by participants included issues around the definitions of apprenticeships as well as the need to create technological solutions and compelling marketing schemes that will resonate with millennials. Many participants agreed on the important role of government, both local and national, as a convener, citing the United Kingdom as a good role model for public private partnership in enabling successful apprenticeship programs.
“It’s very clear that we’re preaching about benefits of apprenticeships to the converted,” said USCIB’s Senior Counsel Ronnie Goldberg during her concluding remarks and summary of the roundtable. “We must now leverage the enthusiasm and expertise as evidenced in this workshop to drive positive change within our companies and communities. Apprenticeships will enable young people to have jobs and a career, but also provide companies with talent for the future.”
The event was hosted by the Citi Foundation and attended by companies such as Hilton, Nestle, IBM, Bechtel and Microsoft.