techdirections April 2017 : Page 2
technically speaking Vanessa Revelli email@example.com We often talk about the skills gap and what that means for our country going forward. There is still a stigma as-sociated with a career-path choice instead of a four-year degree, but that is starting to change. Last month, Jeffrey J. Selingo wrote a piece for The New York Times in which he stated that the Department of Labor’s registry now lists 21,000 programs with about 500,000 apprentices, which sounds impressive but represents only 1.5% of 18-to 24-year-olds in this country and is far short of demand. Still, participation is up 35% and the number of programs by 11% since 2013. Apprenticeships are making a comeback, thanks in part to bipartisan support among lawmakers. In the last two years, Washington has allocated $265 million to spur programs. President Obama’s secretary of labor, Thomas E. Perez, a strong proponent, attempted to rebrand ap-prenticeships to appeal to educators and parents. During his tenure, the department established a partnership be-tween registered community colleges and sponsors that allowed on-the-job-training to count as academic credit toward a degree. “Apprenticeship is the other college, except without the debt,” said Perez. Siemens U.S.A. is one of the companies that is using an apprenticeship model to boost their workforce, but they have found an additional challenge. “When…Siemens En-ergy opened a gas turbine production plant in Charlotte, NC, some 10,000 people showed up at a job fair for 800 positions. But fewer than 15% of the applicants were able to pass a reading, writing, and math screening test geared toward a ninth-grade education. “In our factories, there’s a computer about every 20 or 30 feet,” said Eric Spiegel, former executive at Siemens “People on the plant floor need to be much more skilled than they were in the past. There are no jobs for high school graduates at Siemens today.” Struggling to fill jobs in the Charlotte plant, Siemens in 2011 created an apprenticeship program for seniors at local high schools that combines four years of on-the-job training with an associate degree in mechatronics from nearby Central Piedmont Community College. When they finish, graduates have no student loans and earn more than $50,000 a year. “These are not positions for underachievers,” said Roger Collins, who recruits apprentices for Siemens at 15 Charlotte-area high schools. Chad Robinson was one of those students. With a 3.75 grade-point average, he had already been accepted to the engineering school at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte when he told his parents he wanted to shift course and apply for the Siemens apprenticeship. “They were very against it,” he said, until they went to the open house. “A lot of my friends who majored in en-gineering in college told me they wish they had done the apprenticeship because my work experience will put me ahead of everyone else.” A Prakken Publications Magazine Digital Tech Directions (ISSN 1940-3100) is published monthly, except June, July, and August, by Prakken Publica-tions, Inc., 251 Jackson Plaza, Suite A, Ann Arbor, MI 48103. Executive, editorial, and advertising offices are at PO Box 8623, Ann Arbor, MI 48107-8623, telephone 734-975-2800; fax 734-975-2787. Vol. 76, No. 8. Board of directors Matthew D. Knope, Vanessa Revelli Business Manager Turalee A. 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