Will Apprenticeships Begin to Eclipse College as Postsecondary Education Choice?
Independent Electrical Contractors Celebrates Electrical Careers During National Apprenticeship Week
After decades of pushing bachelor’s degrees, the U.S. needs more tradespeople.
In a report cited by National Public Radio from the Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce, “Some 30 million jobs in the United States that pay an average of $55,000 per year don’t require bachelor’s degrees.”
National Apprenticeship Week (NAW) is November 12-16. Across the country, especially in the skilled trades, organizations and companies will be celebrating and communicating about programs, training, and career opportunities for job seekers and the benefits of apprenticeships as a point of job entry. The Independent Electrical Contractors (IECRM) trade association and apprenticeship training program will be celebrating through a week-long schedule of activities to raise awareness about electrical contracting apprenticeships and the secure career path this option represents.
“The shortage of workers is pushing wages higher in the skilled trades,” says Marilyn Stansbury, CEO of IECRM. “The financial return from a bachelor’s degree is softening, even as the price – and the average debt into which it plunges students – keeps going up.”
According to IECRM, apprenticeships are an attractive and affordable alternative based on earning while learning and lifelong professional development opportunities. Rapidly rising wages in the skilled trades are making these jobs even more attractive. Plus, electrical contracting apprenticeships lead to secure careers for many including returning military vets, women, and underserved populations. Yet high school graduates have been so effectively encouraged to get a bachelor’s degree that high-paid jobs requiring shorter and less expensive training are going unfilled. This affects those students and impacts the economy in not only Colorado but across the U.S.
“Parents want success for their kids,” says Stansbury. “They get stuck on traditional college and don’t see that the skilled trades like electrical contracting could be a major opportunity.” She adds, “There’s a perception that a higher ed degree is essential to the American Dream and the biggest bang for your buck. Yet many people are going to college without a plan, without a career in mind, and are finding that after graduation the reality of a job is not necessarily guaranteed, and still have the burden of huge debt.”
In the electrical contracting and renewable energy sectors, IECRM touts job security. “The reality that our world will never use less power than it does today, and that electrical work — in any structure, transportation infrastructure, or applications that ensure quality of life — is the prevailing nervous system that makes it all work,” says Stansbury. “We cannot function in our world without electricity. This translates into career security and living wages well into the future.”
Finally, people with career and technical educations also are more likely to be employed than their counterparts with academic credentials, the U.S. Department of Education reports, and are significantly more likely to be working their fields of study.
“Yet young people and their parents don’t seem to be getting that message,” says Stansbury. “A common misperception is that skilled trade jobs are not prestigious enough and low-paying. That is a huge misconception.”
For more information about IECRM, National Apprenticeship Week (Nov 12-16) and great career opportunities, visit www.iecrm.org. Come see for yourselves at the IECRM National Apprenticeship Week open house from 2-5pm on Wednesday, November 14. Learn more about the IECRM Apprenticeship Program, electrical career opportunities, and training for the next generation electrician. Building and lab tours every half hour.