The White House has declared the week of Nov. 2 as National Apprenticeship Week. Across the United States, industry and education leaders will celebrate their apprenticeship success stories, plus advocate for a system that trains workers for skilled, well-paying jobs in a variety of industries.
We hear often about the “middle skills gap” in the workforce – those jobs that require more than a high school diploma but less than a four-year degree. This lack of skilled workers affects businesses in advanced manufacturing, IT, logistics, construction and in some financial service businesses.
It is estimated that more than 8,000 jobs in manufacturing are unfilled in just the Charlotte area. Many of these jobs pay family-sustaining wages and often have overtime options, where salaries can reach up to six figures.
Smart companies are investing in their talent pipelines – a broad, strategic system of ensuring skilled workers. At least 20 companies in the Charlotte area have invested in apprenticeships, a form of work-based learning, combined with community college courses.
Apprenticeships offer flexible options for companies. Apprenticeships can be used to train incumbent workers in entry-level jobs who show the potential to advance. Returning military veterans are great candidates for apprenticeships as they often bring transferable skills to the workforce. Or consider the non-traditional-age students at post-secondary institutions who are successful in their studies. Many of these individuals want to make a career change and can bring professional experience that will be an asset to any company.
Central Piedmont Community College is proud to be the educational partner for both Apprenticeship 2000 and Apprenticeship Charlotte companies. The college routinely receives phone calls from parents and students, asking how they can join an apprenticeship program. However, we need more companies to partner with us and offer unique training options. Apprenticeship is one way to fill talent pipelines, and it can benefit the community overall.
Jill Lutz is executive director of the Skills Initiative at Central Piedmont Community College.