High school graduates have the option before taking their next academic step to choose a gap year – for traveling, relaxing, or researching different careers. But a growing trend is to get an apprenticeship.
This summer, Indiana’s Office of Work-Based Learning and Apprenticeship turns four – and well over 100 companies and organizations have set up apprenticeship programs based on its guidelines.
These positions can last a few months to several years, and provide workplace skills and insight.
Sue Smith – a vice president in the School of Advanced Manufacturing, Engineering, and Applied Science at Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana – said these programs give an apprentice some definite advantages.
“Most apprenticeships have not only on-the-job training, but they also have the attainment of college credentials along the way,” said Smith. “It’s just a matter of not ‘college or apprenticeship,’ but ‘college and apprenticeship.'”
Construction, Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC), electrical, carpentry and plumbing trades have traditionally been the most sought-after apprenticeships.
But Smith said the opportunities are expanding to include nursing, health sciences, Information Technology (IT), and cybersecurity.
Indiana has set standards for apprenticeships, in terms of the pay, work hours required, and the need for mentoring – as part of its State Earn and Learn (SEAL) program.
More employers across the state are meeting those standards, and Smith said an apprenticeship is a win for both student and employer.
“And we’re getting,” Smith said, “more and more of those, where the employer partner says, ‘Hey, I’m looking for these folks. If you have them come into your classrooms and they’re looking for this type of employment, let us know – connect us.'”
The Office of Work-Based Learning and Apprenticeship says 94% of apprentices who complete their programs retain employment and earn an average salary of $70,000 dollars a year.