Should I establish an apprenticeship program?

Should I establish an apprenticeship program? on

The Pros And Cons Of Apprenticeship Program For Your Business

The lack of training in trade jobs could lead to a shortage of workers in construction and other industries. Some experts believe apprenticeship programs are the answer, but is it the answer for your vendor business? VendorSmart looks at the pros and cons of starting an apprenticeship program.

The Problem: A Lack of Skilled Trade Workers

For many high school students, the road after graduation leads in one direction. The education system is geared toward getting students college-ready and then entering the professional workforce. However, one consequence of this emphasis has been the steady decline of young people entering trade fields. This could lead to a severe shortage of qualified workers in industries like construction, carpentry, plumbing, electrical, welding, and other blue-collar jobs. In fact, most believe the lack of education and training is already a problem. NPR reported, “Seventy-percent of construction companies nationwide are having trouble finding qualified workers,” according to the Associated General Contractors of America.

Are Apprenticeship Programs the Answer?

Many feel the answer to the shortage of trade workers lies in apprenticeship programs. These programs combine on-the-job training with classroom instruction. The students (called apprentices) work with a journey-level craft person or skilled trade professional. They could be new hires or someone you already employ who could use more training or specific training that your company needs to stay competitive.

While apprenticeship programs can be effective in training a new generation of trade workers, is starting one a good idea for you? Let’s look at the pros and cons.

The Pros…

Cost-savings – An apprenticeship program allows you to hire an entry-level worker at a lower wage than a skilled trade person. In exchange, apprentices gain valuable skills that will allow them to make higher hourly wages and build a successful trade career.

Fills critical needs – If your business lacks workers with particular skills, an apprenticeship program is a great way to plug the gap and fulfill that need.

Creates company loyalty – If you take the time to train a young worker, he or she will is more likely to stick with your company and become a real asset in the future.

Someone to complete lower-grade tasks – An experienced carpenter might balk at more mundane tasks, but an apprentice will appreciate the opportunity to learn new skills.

More enthusiasm and ideas – Apprentices have a natural excitement that more experienced workers might have lost. Younger workers can add a necessary jolt of energy. They might also end up teaching you new skills, as they will be exposed to the latest ideas and trends in your industry.

Personal fulfillment – Apprenticeship programs allow you to teach your knowledge and skills to other people. You are literally changing someone’s life and allowing him or her to have a satisfying career. Plus, you are ensuring better service to your customers, so everyone wins.

The Cons…

A drain on your time – The deal is that you must take time to teach an apprentice. They will have a lot of questions and you will likely have to stop what you’re doing to correct something they’ve done wrong. An unskilled worker may even slow production overall, at least in the short-term.

You must provide constant supervision – Not only will you be taking time to teach apprentices, but you must also stay on top of them to ensure their work is correct and in line with safety regulations. Failing to do so could land everyone in legal hot water.

Lack of experience – By definition apprentices do not have the necessary skills needed for the job. They also may lack an understanding of your particular industry and how things work. Lastly, they might lack the professionalism needed when dealing directly with customers and clients.

Apprentices could end up leaving – While many apprentices do stay on with the company at the end of the program, some leave to pursue other opportunities. This can leave you feeling betrayed and angry, but it’s something you must learn to accept.

Resources for Starting An Apprenticeship Program

If you are interested in starting an apprenticeship program, there are plenty of resources that can help. Workers looking to become an apprentice can also find information on these sights. Here are a few examples:

For employers:

US Department of Labor – Apprenticeship

The Employer’s Handbook for Building an Apprenticeship Program

For students & entry-level workers:

Apprenticeship USA

Glassdoor – On-the-Job-Training Finder

While it is clear that trade industries are facing a lack of skilled workers, there is not a clear answer to fix the problem. Starting an apprenticeship program may be the right choice for your business, but there are many things to consider before taking that step. VendorSmart connects managers and HOAs with service providers across a wide variety of industries. Our software solutions help you manage bids, verify insurance and compliance documentation, and even handle invoicing and payments. If you need help vetting candidates, contact us today to get started.