Apprenticeships: New Relevance for an Old Idea

Apprenticeships: New Relevance for an Old Idea Main Photo

15 Mar 2021


Although we continue to believe the “average” college student gets a job after graduating from college, the fact is that two-thirds are employed while in college, and four out of 10 are employed full-time. A lot of students actually bring significant work experience to college with them — half of all students are financially independent of their parents, a third are over 25, and six out of 100 have served or are serving in the armed forces. The notion of students as “empty vessels” is seriously outdated.

Work offers many opportunities for learning, and yet in most cases it is kept separate from school and college education. At best, we consider it only as the endpoint of education — where people go when they’re finished with education. Even when we consider higher education’s role in addressing the need to update knowledge and skills through people’s careers, we call it lifelong learning — the idea that people need to return to college from time to time before going back to work. This ping-pong approach to education and work is better than the once-and-done approach, but it still maintains the fiction that learning and working are separate activities in distinct systems operating under their own sets of rules.

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