APPRENTICESHIP

A workforce-development practice prominently and effectively deployed in international settings, apprenticeship has generated heightened interest in the United States. Former President Barack Obama sought to double the number of apprentices within five years, with the United States Department of Labor having awarded $175 million in American Apprenticeship Grants. New Jersey Senator Cory Booker partnered with South Carolina Senator Tim Scott to sponsor the LEAP – Leveraging and Energizing America’s Apprenticeship Programs – Act, which would deliver a federal tax credit to employers who hire apprentices.  These efforts seek to fortify weaknesses undermining both the supply and demand sides of the equation: firms reportedly cannot locate sufficiently skilled talent and individuals lack the training to participate more meaningfully in the economy.  Updated versions of centuries-old apprenticeship models could cultivate an adaptable workforce more attuned to the competitive needs of the private sector, while simultaneously equipping citizens with professional proficiencies in a practical, cost-efficient manner, results that invariably bolster the middle class.  Apprenticeship has ranked highly as a priority in several states, particularly South Carolina.  Borrowing from these examples, New Jersey could craft an apprenticeship strategy built on funding, promotion and technical assistance.